TC242: Understanding Dyslexia: How teaching language relates to teaching music with Becki Laurent


Did you know that 1 in 5 people in the USA have dyslexia? So, if you’ve got 20 students, the odds are pretty high that at least four are dyslexic. Therefore, understanding dyslexia is an important tool to have.

In today’s episode, Becki Laurent joins us to talk about how we can better reach our music students that struggle with this learning challenge.

We discuss myths, misconceptions and tips for teaching students with dyslexia. Becki also shares the components of the Orton Gillingham method of teaching reading and how we can incorporate these in music teaching.

It’s a super informative and interesting episode you won’t want to miss.

  • [03:13] Becki shares how she got on the journey of teaching music to kids with dyslexia and ADHD.
  • [13:41] The conversation you need to have with your students’ parents.
  • [15:54] Top 5 Myths for teaching students with dyslexia.
  • [23:03] Understanding dyslexia and why rhythm is so important in teaching dyslexics.
  • [28:02] How using the process of teaching dyslexics can help any student become better. 
  • [34:42] Components of the Orton Gillingham teaching method and how we can apply it to music.
  • [43:19] Sample strategies you can use to teach students.
  • [51:02] Tips for making the process of learning fun for students.

Transcript of the show

If you’d like to download a PDF transcript of this episode, please click below.

Links Mentioned

About our Guest


Becki Laurent is the director of a music school in West Texas. Her superpowers include ADHD, listening, analyzing and getting things done. She doesn’t sleep much and can often be found on Facebook at all hours of the day and night in all the time zones of the world.

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1 Comment

  • sean says:

    I’m a 27 year old beginner pianist from The Nederlands and i have dyslexia and ADD. I say beginner even though i have had piano lessons for many years. I recognize myself in alot that have been discussed in this podcast. In school (not music school) or in other places i have always been told i need to be faster or else i not gonna make it in this sociaty and teachers were visually frustrated by my learning ability. I would get weird looks about not understanding, which made me stop asking questions. They kept telling me i need to practice more but the truth is i’ve just been unable to learn with their traditional methods. I have been struggling with this for many years and it has really impacted me in my life. I’ve always felt that i have a really bad memory cause it feels like i constantly have to start over from the beginning. This to the point i just wanted to give up cause in my mind i’m just to slow of a learner for anyone to teach and a waste of space.

    I have indeed found in music that beside other aspects rhythm is something i’m not really good at. Like keep (or recognising) the pulse in a song while i play. My current music teacher wants to move on faster than i think i ready to. For the last half a year i’ve been self studying/teaching alot more, diving into aspect that have my interesting, which i’ve found helped. I have always found that i need multiple websites to learn 1 subject, cause its explained in different ways and eventually i find one that clicks with my understanding of things. This ofcourse takes alot of time.

    When it comes to sheet music 1 of my teachers asked me if i wanted to learn it, me having bad experiences in the past where i only had to play really old songs even for my time, i immediately went like “no i want to eventually learn by ear not sheet music.” The teacher i have currently didn’t ask me if i wanted to learn he asked me why i havent picked it up yet. I gave him the same reason as the other teacher. But then he proceeded and showed me all the possibilities with sheet music and told me it would make learning music easier ones i had these basics down. Non of my other teachers ever approached me this way, usually it was u have to learn (and in this specific way) or do u want to learn without showing good examples? But i also noticed he doesn’t have alot of patience with me learning, since i had some experience with sheet music he wanted me to learn both hands at the same time. So i had found an old family piano book which teaches in smaller steps. I’ve started really really slow, but i am learning this way.

    Sorry for making my comment this long. But I really want to thank you both of putting out this podcast, giving me and others a clearer view of what it is i/they should focus on. It is amazing that there are teachers in this world that take the time to understand dyslexia and also know that it isnt just a reading disability… (I’ve always been treated that way)

    Thank you so much and keep helping those kids!
    (PS: I’ve never heard of special music teaching of students with dyslexia in my country)

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