Dyslexic Beginner - Color Code?

Posted by: IPlayPiano

Dyslexic Beginner - Color Code? - 10/05/12 12:42 PM

I have a very specific question for the forum. I will be starting to teach a beginner student (age 10) who has severe dyslexia. The parent suggested a color coding method. Has anyone ever heard the song "Red and Yellow and Pink and Green, Purple and Orange and Blue... I can sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow, sing a rainbow too!" I am considering using this tune to teach the keyboard notes. My questions: do you think this would be a good way to start learning notes on the keyboard and staff (using coloring on the staff notes)? If so, should Red be A? or should red be C? Thanks!
Posted by: Quarkomatic

Re: Dyslexic Beginner - Color Code? - 10/05/12 01:55 PM

I think "dyslexia" is such an abused term in popular culture and also such a varied condition that it can be difficult for non-dyslexics to understand what it really is. So, if the parent suggested colour-coding, perhaps they have seen it work for their child in other areas and it's a good bet. If you do end up using colour-coding, I wonder if there is any software you could use to automatically mark-up your scores? Probably not necessary at first for beginner music, but it could become quite tedious in time.

I did a quick search on teaching dyslexics music, and I found a couple of relevant articles:

http://www.abrsm.org/newsArticles/item.html?id=253
http://www.abrsm.org/parents/advice/item.html?id=252

I'm sure you can probably find lots more. Whatever approaches you take, I'm sure it will be an interesting journey.
Posted by: Mrs. Akers

Re: Dyslexic Beginner - Color Code? - 10/05/12 07:56 PM

Marcia Washburn, in her book, "Talent to Treasure," tells how she uses colored stretchy hair bands with learning disabled children. She puts one color on the left wrist and another color on the right. As I recall, she then uses matching colored highlighters to mark the notes in the music.

I'm thinking that the color coding would be a tool to help the child compensate and overcome the disability, not something he would become dependent on. Hopefully, by the time he reaches more advanced levels, he would no longer need the aids.
Posted by: malkin

Re: Dyslexic Beginner - Color Code? - 10/05/12 08:06 PM

I think the colors might help the kid remember which hand is which and which clef it needs to play. I might try that for the Hokey Pokey--all the kids have red on the right and blue on the left, so that when it is time to "Put your right hand in" you can see all the red ones in there.

Until the kids take the bands off and have them in their mouths or shoot them at each other...
Posted by: Michael_99

Re: Dyslexic Beginner - Color Code? - 10/06/12 03:30 AM

I am dyslexic. I recently had a stroke and suffered brain damage and have some speaking problems. I have been learning/playing for 6 months.

The most signifiant thing I learned was always know what my fingers are doing or to put it another way, know what my fingers are doing or what key is under my fingers. Play very, very slowly and constantly repeat the pieces and review constantly.
As a dyslexic I often can be distracted but always I am mindful to return to the book and learn the next song.

I don't know about other dyslexics but I have tremendous perseverance, I love learning in spite of being a slow learner.

But it should be said that I seem to have to do things differently. I didn't realize this for a long time because I always worked or did thing on my own. When I began to work with others it was soon apparent that I had to do thing differently. Lay out stuff differently from what other people would do it.

Perhaps the most important thing I learned was to speak up. As a young person I would listen but often didn't understand what was being said. It was probably when I was in my 30s that I would tell people I am dyslexic and have memory problems and get them to explain things slowly or write it down because after the lesson or discussion I won't remember any of it so important to have the notes of the lesson made by the teacher to refer to.

When I was training people, I would tell them, I can show you what has to be done, but they would always do it faster than I could. It appears that I can do everthing I want to do but not as fast as others.

I code things and can use colours but I suspect that I do it differently than others.
Posted by: IPlayPiano

Re: Dyslexic Beginner - Color Code? - 10/06/12 05:28 PM

Thank you very much. I appreciate the detailed responses and this was very helpful.
Posted by: manyhands

Re: Dyslexic Beginner - Color Code? - 10/07/12 07:03 AM

Remember also that tbe learner is the best expert on what works for him/her. Does he remember auditory, tactile kinesthetic or graphic best? What he does for fun can clue this and be used to inform your teaching. If he helps you design learning aids he benefits in multiple ways. Make him a partner even at that age is empowerment.
Posted by: apple*

Re: Dyslexic Beginner - Color Code? - 10/07/12 08:47 AM

Originally Posted By: Mrs. Akers
Marcia Washburn, in her book, "Talent to Treasure," tells how she uses colored stretchy hair bands with learning disabled children. She puts one color on the left wrist and another color on the right. As I recall, she then uses matching colored highlighters to mark the notes in the music.

I'm thinking that the color coding would be a tool to help the child compensate and overcome the disability, not something he would become dependent on. Hopefully, by the time he reaches more advanced levels, he would no longer need the aids.


that is such a sweet way to teach.
Posted by: malkin

Re: Dyslexic Beginner - Color Code? - 10/07/12 12:13 PM

Michael 99 you have an admirable knowledge of your own learning style!

I never know if my learning is an accident or a miracle.