Music Helps Children with Dyslexia

Learning to Play an Instrument Can Increase Language Skills

Recent studies have shown that incorporating music in learning can help to increase language skills in children with dyslexia and other learning disabilities.

Learning to play a musical instrument may help students with dyslexia. A study completed at Stanford University [Musical Training Helps Language Processing, Studies Show, 2005, Stanford News Service]. The study showed that mastering a musical instrument improves the ability to process parts of the spoken language. The researchers believe that additional research might develop a way to use the knowledge obtained in the study to increase language development for individuals with dyslexia or cognitive disorders.

Studies Show Music Helps Increase Test Scores and Language Skills

While there have been other studies that have shown the relationship of music to increased IQ [Music and the Mind, Music From the Inside Out, PBS] or to increased standardized tests and SAT scores [Music and Literacy, 1999, The Association for Music Education], this is the first study that has shown a direct correlation to mastering a musical instrument and learning the spoken language.

Music Therapists, however, often include Learning Disabilities in their list of conditions helped by music therapy. Music Therapy is sometimes included in a child’s IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) as a way to help improve communication skills and to improve physical coordination. The Learning Disability Association of America encourages parents and teachers to include music to improve early reading skills.

Parents and Teachers Can Help Incorporate Music into Learning

Teachers and parents can incorporate music into everyday learning to help children with dyslexia and other learning disabilities to improve school performance and increase reading and writing skills. Tunes to popular children’s songs, such as “Mary Had a Little Lamb” or “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” can be used a the basis for learning math facts and formulas or grammar rules. By using familiar songs, children can hum to themselves while completing homework or taking a test, reminding themselves of the facts or the rules they must follow. This method is not limited to younger children, even high school and college students can benefit from using familiar tunes to remember facts for exams.

New Horizons for Learning lists specific ways music can help students succeed:

  • Students can learn to break a word into syllables by clapping or tapping for each syllable.
  • Students can use rhymes or songs to learn grammar lessons, such as “I before E except after C”
  • Students can learn spelling words or history facts by putting the information to music.
  • Students can improve their listening skills by listening to short songs and writing the lyrics down.
  • Songs from different eras and cultures can help students to learn the history and social studies and improve their understanding of the many different cultures around the world.
  • Math classes can be enhanced by using clapping or rhythms to improve understanding of patterns and sequences.
  • Multiplication facts can be learned by setting them to music.