[Smt-talk] Dylexia and music theory/aural skills

Kris Shaffer kshaffer at csuniv.edu
Fri Oct 14 03:50:21 PDT 2011

Dear Colleagues,
I have a freshman music theory and aural skills student who is demonstrating signs of dyslexia. While she is pursuing testing and an official diagnosis, I'm searching for ways to help her through some of her specific struggles. So far I've found some helpful lists of musical problems often associated with dyslexia, many of which are true for this student, but nothing in terms of helping an adult learn music theory, dictation, or sight singing. Do any of you know of specific resources for music theory instructors in this regard? Or have you found types of practice techniques, assignments, accommodations that were helpful for a dyslexic student in your charge? Until we have an official diagnosis, we can't make any testing accommodations, but I'd like to start tutoring as soon as possible (she needs tutoring help whether dyslexic or not!), or she may fail the course. So I'd really appreciate any suggestions for training/practice techniques that we can try right away.

She is currently in the first semester of theory (finishing up 2-voice species counterpoint in a week or so and moving on to basic chord structures) and aural skills (just started a unit with first substantial focus on melodic dictation, using Karpinski's protonotation-to-musical-notation method). Any suggestions specific to that would be amazing. But anything relating to dyslexia and musical notation, musical instruction, solfege, dictation, etc. would be a big help. And if any of you with insights want to talk over coffee at SMT, that would be wonderful.


Kris Shaffer
Assistant Professor of Music Theory
Charleston Southern University

Prof. Kris Shaffer
Charleston Southern University
Horton School of Music
9200 University Boulevard
P.O. Box 118087
Charleston, SC 29423-8087
(843) 863-7964
kshaffer at csuniv.edu

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