About piano students who display disruptive behavior and perform far below reasonable expectations, teachers first conclude that they are lazy, rude, disinterested, and/or lacking intelligence or ability. Most dismiss such students from studios and advise parents to discontinue lessons. In truth, many of these students are both highly gifted and also have a learning disability. Examined literature shows that the incidence of dyslexia and other learning disabilities in the gifted learner population is several times that of the regular learner population. Although large volumes of research have been devoted to dyslexia, and more recently to dyslexia and music (in the classroom and some in individual instrumental instruction), there is no evidence of the same investigation in relation to the specific needs of highly gifted dyslexic students in learning to play the piano. This project examines characteristics of giftedness and dyslexia, gifted learners with learning disabilities, and the difficulties they encounter in learning to read music and play keyboard instruments. It includes historical summaries of author's experience with such students and description of their progress and success. They reveal some of practical strategies that evolved through several decades of teaching regular and gifted dyslexic students that helped them overcome the challenges and learn to play the piano. Informal conversations and experience exchanges with colleagues, as well as a recently completed pilot study also showed that most piano pedagogues had no formal opportunity to learn about this issue and to be empowered to teach these very special students. The author's hope is to offer personal insights, survey of current knowledge, and practical suggestions that will not only assist piano instructors to successfully teach highly gifted learners with dyslexia, but also inspire them to learn more about the topic.
- Gifted learners, dyslexia, music, and the piano: rude, inattentive, uncooperative, or something else?
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Statement of Responsibility
by Jelena Vladikovic