August 25

1 comments

It’s Not a Disability

At least a few times a week, there will be a post like this on a piano teacher Facebook group:

I need some serious help with a student. I'm at a total loss. He's been with me for a year, and he still can't count his quarter notes properly, or figure out the difference between up and down on the staff. He's six years old. Any help appreciated, thank you!

And with astonishing predictability, at least a few people write in:

Does he have a learning disability? Have you asked his parents?

When it comes to reading music, it's not a disability. Especially with younger children. It's the fact that reading was introduced in the wrong part of the learning sequence.

When we were born, we learned language through a magical biological process.

We observed our parents and others speak.

We started copying those words.

After we copied enough of them, we started creating our own ideas with them. 

And only after we were fluent, did our parents put books in front of us to even consider teaching us to read.

But somehow with music, traditional teaching jumps straight to the reading part first.

And the result?

It's no longer music for the child. But instead, a frustrating puzzle they've been asked to solve.

But, perhaps out of frustration, teachers will often consider whether it's because of a disability. Not a lack of proper teaching, or understanding how children learn music.

It makes you wonder about all the kids in the world who have been diagnosed with a learning disability.

Could it be that at least some of them just needed a different teaching approach?

  • It’s not a disability. Mainstream education sees it as a “ disability “ just because the child in question just learns differently. Maybe he’s destined to become the next great improv genius w a classical vibe.

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    For parents, students, and anyone else who believes that music can and should be a meaningful part of everyone's life.

    About Jonathan Roberts

    I am the founder and director of the South Shore Piano School, and I have been teaching the piano for nearly 20 years. My work centers around bringing music to the lives of kids, parents, and adults in an enriching, meaningful way. At the South Shore Piano School, my incredible colleagues and I accomplish this through skill-based teaching, community, and an innovative, people-first business model. You can read more about me here.


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  • It’s not a disability. Mainstream education sees it as a “ disability “ just because the child in question just learns differently. Maybe he’s destined to become the next great improv genius w a classical vibe.

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}
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