Around one in five children are thought to have dyslexia, and up to 90% of children with learning difficulties have it. Children with dyslexia can struggle with areas such as reading, sequencing and ordering sounds, and reading, but one area they can shine in and enjoy is music. As found in a study published in the International Journal of Arts and Technology, there is no link between dyslexia and a lack of musical ability. Learning music will not make children more aware of phonemes, but it can benefit them in other ways.
Musical Training to Improve Reading
A study published by Frontiers in Psychology argues that music training may provide a useful tool for a new perspective — one that considers each of the multiple facets of dyslexia as a potential area to be improved upon. The study results suggested that several cognitive functions, including reading, can benefit from adding music to classical speech therapy sessions. The researchers suggested using musical content in speech therapy and other sessions, especially when further therapy is required. The scientists also found that music seemed to make a bigger difference when training was intensive and when it was conducted in small groups.
A Child and a Piano
Furthermore, one case study published in the Journal of Education and Practice involved the use of a piano to work with a child with dyslexia. Instrument sessions with the piano playing a major role were carried out once a week for 45 minutes for a total of eight months. Additional musical-centred activities including musical improvisation, sight-reading, and writing notes were added. The findings showed that during and after piano training, the child showed “great improvements in the musical area,” gaining vital skills in reading, writing, pairing, and distinguishing notes. The child learned to play 12 different songs in a completely unaided fashion and gained enough skill to improvise.
Choosing the Right Instrument
The case study was undertaken with a piano but if a child expresses interest in other instruments such as a flute or guitar, these too can be encouraged. A child who enjoys music from the 1960s, 1990s, or other guitar-heavy eras may ask to learn the acoustic or electric guitar. Finding a small guitar for a child’s hands will help make classes easier and more accessible. Allowing a child leeway in their choice of instrument is important because one of the most important benefits of music is its ability to motivate. Children are more likely to stick to reading and writing if these are accompanied by their chosen type of music.
The Ability of Music to Lower Stress
Because learning can be stressful for children with dyslexia, music is a wonderful way to create a calm and pleasant environment. Those who love music know of its powerful ability to transport one to a happier place or change one’s mood with a couple of familiar notes. In the case study above, the researchers rightly noted that music is not just an efficient way to help people with special needs achieve their goals, but rather, “above all else, it has an important place in human life both biologically and aesthetically.”
Music has been found in study after study to positively affect the mind, body, and energy levels. It can also help us release stress and feel calmer and more energetic. Because of its powerful effect on mood, it can be a vital tool in learning. Studies have shown that music can improve various cognitive functions, including reading. Music can also teach children vital skills that can boost their self-confidence and provide them with a hobby to be cherished for a lifetime.