First musical instrument for DS (7.5) who is dyslexic

(34 Posts)
StillSquiffy Fri 20-May-11 12:19:03

My DS will be taking up a musical instrument from the start of Y3 and I have a mind-boggling choice across all of the main orchestral instruments, or piano, or guitar.

He hates the sound of violin, and I think (but not sure) that guitar and sax (both of which I think will be cool for him to play eventually) are both too hard at his age.

Slight complication is that he has been assessed as midly dyslexic/dyspraxic/hyperactive (description does pretty much fit most 7 YO boys, I know wink). He's a year or so adrift of his reading age because his processing skills are weak, and he is a bid of a fidget. On the other hand the school are keen for him to take up an instrument to help him practice his fine motor skills.

Soooooo? Any recommendations? I am thinking toward piano, but maybe trumpet, trombone, bassoon or oboe might be better to start, given his short attention span? Or am I wrong about guitar and sax?

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monkoray Fri 20-May-11 12:28:27

Hi Stillsqiffy, have you thought about contacting the british dyslexia association and asking their advice, their details are at the bottom of this article i found which talks about some of the challenges of teaching music to kids with dyslexia
www.abrsm.org/?page=parents/advice/item.html&id=252

sleepingsowell Fri 20-May-11 12:28:43

My ds has learnt ukelele - he really enjoyed it. He is also dyslexic and hypermobile.

I think piano is a big big ask for year 3 with the needs of your DS - you need to learn to read music which I think IS a big ask if you can't actually read properly, also both hands working independently can be a struggle co-ordination wise.

So I can heartily recommend the ukelele as my DS managed it well and it really seemed to grab him. He's been inspired to move on to guitar smile

Aliensstolemysanity Fri 20-May-11 12:29:02

I totally understand the problems with the Violin, I play strings myself, I would suggest that this is one of the easiest instruments to play as once you have mastered your bow arm the rest is easy!

I would opt for the trumpet, my son plays the cornet and I have been impressed with the ease with which he has picked it up.

So I would advise to start with something easier, such as a trumpet and then move onto piano or Sax a bit later!

DorisDoesntDance Fri 20-May-11 12:29:33

my vote would be piano or brass instrument. piano - both hands playing is introduced slowly, so would give him a chance to build up skills first without having to learn the additional coordination and with most brass instruments because you only need one hand to play the keys.

I'd steer clear of reeded instruments - reeds are tricky to master and both hands needed even at basic level.

Mammie81 Fri 20-May-11 16:57:22

The piano is the most easily transferable skill and (I was told) the best for learning to read music, as its scale is right there in front of you.

KurriKurri Fri 20-May-11 17:44:04

My DS has dyslexia, and he found the piano very difficult. He could play by ear, and is musical, but he couldn't deal with reading music, - found it very hard to make the association between the written 'code' and what it actually represents on the piano.

Mind you he didn't have a very sympathetic teacher, so that might have played a part.

he managed better with guitar,and when he was a teenager, he took singing lessons which he really enjoyed.

knittakid Fri 20-May-11 18:14:33

Drums! some schools teach african drumming, which i think is great for developing musicality without the need to begin reading music which can be tricky and discouraging at that age, while they still teach the skills of coordination, rhythm and melody (yes).
Failing that I second the ukelele idea, and if that's still not possible then the trumpet. Whatever you choose talk to the teacher and explain his condition, some music teachers think that catering for dislexia means making things easier, it shouldn't! it just requires a different approach.

snorkie Fri 20-May-11 19:07:40

vote for trumpet or drums here.

LIZS Fri 20-May-11 19:12:21

ds is dyspraxic and plays tenor horn which like the trumpet only has 3 valves to coordinate and one hand !

StillSquiffy Fri 20-May-11 20:27:56

Dah. Ukelele is about the only instrument they don't offer. Drums he would like but I think they would drive me potty so I think we will speak to SENCO teacher at school and ask her advice between brass and piano.

I have a feeling there will be a trumpet or french horn in the house before long....

Many thanks for all the advice.

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doggydaft Fri 20-May-11 21:41:17

My DD has dyslexia and she started playing the recorder at 6, cornet age 9 and then moved on to piano. She now plays both coronet and piano and is progressing well. smile.

The coronet was a good start for her as she could play recognisable tunes fairly quickly and it was great for her confidence.

reallytired Fri 20-May-11 21:47:18

I think that you should ask your ds what he wants to play and then see how he gets on. He may surpise you.

My son is nine and doing well with guitar. He has had fine motor issues in the past. He was even under a nhs occupational theraphist briefly.

The important thing is that a child practices. In many ways the guitar has advances because you have the option of tab notation, a lot of guitarists improvise rather than read music.

Smuddy81 Fri 20-May-11 22:48:11

Speaking as music teacher I totally echo what reallytired says... See what he fancies as he wont do the practice if he's not into it. All of the instruments you mentioned will have a similar amount of challenge in terms of dyslexia etc but it depends on the teaching as there are various methods of learning to read music that can be adpated for specific learning difficulties. Piano is a particularly hard one though as the coordination is so much harder but this is not to say that with motivation and the right teaching its not possible. (I'd always go for oboe but then its my instrument...and the best!)

Woud he be having lessons in school? Is it a state school that uses the county music service for teachers? You're probably miles away from me but if by some coincidense you're nearby I would have some excellent suggestions for teachers of pretty much any instrument!

StillSquiffy Sat 21-May-11 12:23:27

Thanks again for the responses. Smuddy - we are many counties removed from you but thank you for your offer. I've asked DS and he has said 'drums'. So I will ask him again tomorrow!

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AliciaFlorrick Sat 21-May-11 12:32:45

I have a dyspraxic, dyslexic, ASD 8 year old. He started piano lessons when he was 6 to help him with his motor skills and concentration more than anything. I explained his problems exactly to the teacher and told him why he was taking the lessons. The teacher has helped DS progress at his own pace and encouraged him. He loves playing the piano, he'll never be brilliant but he likes the fact that he can sit down and bash out a tune where most of the other kids in his class who are good at sport, reading etc can't, it's a great confidence booster for him.

lingle Sat 21-May-11 13:17:38

my father is a semi-professional musician and we suspect that he has dyslexia (but not dyspraxia). Being a jazz musician frees him from having to read.

I think smuddy's point that there are different teaching methods is the critical one.

It's not so much the instrument, more the way they teach it.

good luck.

rabbitstew Sat 21-May-11 17:47:06

Learning the piano is supposed to be absolutely fantastic for dyspraxic kids. Another advantage of the piano is, if your child also has hypermobility and/or hypotonia (low muscle tone) as part of his dyspraxia (which is pretty common), it doesn't require as much "oomph" as, eg, a cornet, which actually requires pretty strong mouth muscles and the ability to hold it up to your mouth for reasonably long periods of time. My ds1 (hypotonic and hypermobile) would just be unable to maintain the position required to play, and the continuous tension in the mouth muscles... However, he loves the piano and it is the first thing he's ever enjoyed doing sufficiently with his hands that he will spend a reasonable amount of time practising it, which has had huge benefits for his general hand strength and co-ordination so therefore the benefits have spilled over into all sorts of other areas of his life. And, surprisingly, given he has poor motor planning skills and extreme hypermobility, he is getting very good at it. It's also helped with him learning to touch type, which we were advised to get him to do to help later on with coping with large amounts of writing when your hand tires easily.

However, if muscle tone isn't an issue, the cornet/trumpet can be fun and is a versatile instrument - used in jazz, classical and some pop music. I would avoid the trombone - it's not THAT easy to work out exactly how far to move the slide for each note if you're not that well co-ordinated or musical. Would agree woodwind instruments are slightly harder than brass at first.

Enigma Sat 21-May-11 17:48:30

My dyslexic dd started piano in Y3 and is enjoying it. She doesn't power through the pieces like some of her peers but she is making steady progress and enjoying it

rabbitstew Sat 21-May-11 17:52:06

ps I don't think guitar would necessarily be too tricky for your ds at his age, regardless of any dyspraxic tendencies, if he's interested.

Smuddy81 Sat 21-May-11 21:18:47

Also worth adding that dyslexia/dyspraxia aside, wind and brass instruments shouldn't be attempted before adult front teeth are fully there...

rabbitstew Sun 22-May-11 12:55:56

Brass instruments can also be pretty painful to play if you end up with a fixed brace, too (she said from experience, remembering the track marks on the inside of her lip).

coogar Sun 22-May-11 16:09:41

Still haven't read all posts so may have already been suggested ... THE DRUMS !! My son is nearly 8 and is ADHD & dyslexic. He loves the drums and they knacker him out too .... quids in!! grin

MissHonkover Sun 22-May-11 21:20:08

I'm going to go against the grain here and vote for the sax (presuming your DS likes them!). The instrument is held on a strap round the neck, so no issues with holding the weight in his hands. The fingering of the notes makes sense, unlike the 'patterns' required for guitar playing, and the 'trying to get lots of notes out of just three valves' issue on the trumpet. Agreed he will need to have his adult teeth.
Plus the sax is cool. grin

StillSquiffy Mon 23-May-11 10:26:07

He's not got his adult teeth through yet, so sax is out (sob. I think it is the sexiest instrument there is and would be v chuffed if in later years DS seduced his wimmin with it).

Thanks all for advice. We have no garage so Drums would necessitate buying a log cabin and putting it in the paddock as far as I'm concerned..... grin ...I am admittedly more confused than ever so will take the earlier advice of seeing what he wants to play and then checking if that would be appropriate....at the moment he is waiting to see what his mates are choosing before deciding himself (which in reality means us mums are colluding in the background and preparing to bamboozle them all)

OP’s posts: |

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