View Full Version : Teaching music for those with learning disabilities

11-28-2016, 04:25 AM
I've started teaching music lessons, which has been really rewarding! Two of my students have dyslexia, though. I knew about one had it (she's my 12 year old sister), but the ukulele is her second instrument, and she's having no trouble learning. In fact, she shows a lot of talent.

I didn't know that the other one, though. I just found out yesterday (from someone outside his family) Again, he's 12. Apparently, he's tested in the genius levels of IQ, but has a hard time with written communication in general. I've been using Jumpin' Jim's Ukulele Tips 'N' Tunes as our textbook, but he seems to be having trouble following the music on the page.

If text is not a good way for him to process information, I want to know how far I should go to give him information in a way that works for him. Maybe a video course would work better for him, but I don't know where to start with one of those. Maybe a memorization process would be better for him, too.

Anyway, I was wondering if anyone had any experience as a student (or teacher) in a similar situation. If so, what advice would you have on how to proceed.

11-28-2016, 05:25 PM
That's admirable!
I'm not a teacher, per se, but I do believe that everyone's learning is a little different. Each child needs things tailored to him. Do you think he'd do better learning by ear?

11-28-2016, 08:57 PM
That's admirable! (...) Each child needs things tailored to him. Do you think he'd do better learning by ear?

My thoughts exactly!

Especially with that age, I tend not to put them in front of sheets of paper, but rather show them techniques or songs bit by bit.

Also, adding lots of variation is important: clapping games, who's the fastest to fret every single note on a string, each plays only certain chords of a song that the other one doesn't... it can all help to break up the 'main dish' of your course, and re-focus the attention.

11-29-2016, 12:57 AM
It's my understanding that many, many Hawaiians learned to play by watching a family member and doing what they do. Lots of tutorials here and on youtube at all levels. Can slow youtube down too. Learning by observation also one of the reasons a uke club helps so many learn.

11-29-2016, 06:36 AM
If you give out handouts, you might consider downloading the Dyslexie font, or having them download it and convert any documents that you send them. It is free for home use. I have students that use it and they say it does make it easier to process text.

11-29-2016, 02:24 PM
Just spotted this on Facebook: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/special-learners-deserve-music-too/

11-29-2016, 02:41 PM
I work at a special ed school and am in charge of the ukulele program. I painted the fretboards with nail polish, for example if you put your finger on green, that is a C. Then when I print the "beat sheets" all the Cs are green. And all the Fs are orange, etc.

So even without knowing any alphabet at all, they know this song goes "green green green orange green orange green orange".

Beat sheets are every count written out. We work on a beat sheet, then at the end find out what song it is when I give them the words!