How do you teach note-reading to dyslexic or special needs students? : LUSENET : Everything About Teaching and Learning the Piano : One Thread

I have several students who may be dyslexic...they read the left hand instead of the right hand, or they play a sequence going down when it goes up. They are having a very difficult time learning the names of notes, not only on the staff but on the keyboard. How do I help them?

-- Mildred Herman (, September 10, 2002


In order to teach "violin hand" and "bow hand" My 4-yr-old son's (suzuki) violin teacher drew little bows and violins on his hands for a few weeks.

It worked surprisingly well.

You might just use a pen to write "R" and "L" on the students' hands. You might have to do it for a number of weeks. You can have them do it at home, too.

Whatever you do, it will undoubtedly take a deal of repetition (and patience) before it penetrates.

You will probably have to teach note reading much more thoroughly & for a much longer time with these students than for the "typical" student (whoever THAT is . . . ).

Just week after week have a variety of activities and games centered around learning & identifying the notes on the keyboard and on the staff, and associating the notes on the staff with those on the keyboard.

Flashcards could be a part of this.

Eartraining-type games & activites might be a way to do an "end run" around the students' difficulties. Can they identify groups of notes as "going up" or "going down" when you play them. Can they imititate groups of notes going up or down, on the keyboard, after they hear you play them. Can they sing groups of notes going up or down in imitation of you singing or playing them on the piano?

If they have that aural grip on the idea of notes moving up & down it might help them make the association between the way the notes on the staff look & they way they sound.

Good luck!


-- Brent Hugh (, October 05, 2002.

Dear Mildred,

I started teaching my eight year old nephew to play the piano and just realized that he has a learning disability or possibly dyslexia. He fooled me for quite awhile because he has an incredibly ear, and memorized pieces by only hearing them once or twice. I eventually began teaching him notes and note names away from the piano. I also taught to read intervals which seems to help. Try teaching a few pieces by rote to allow them to play something more difficult and impressive than their reading level, while still working to help them become better readers. Just be very patient and good luck to you.

-- Lindsey Heindrichs (, July 28, 2004.

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