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Dyslexia & choir

Dyslexia & choir

Columbus Children’s Choir awards two scholarships annually through essay competitions. These prestigious awards are given to singers who lead and excel in and outside the choir. Katie is the recipient of the Choral Citizenship Award and she has graciously allowed us to publish her powerful essay.

I am dyslexic and singing has unlocked my brain and allowed me to learn.

My dyslexia is not the cartoon, stereotypical type of dyslexia. I don’t write my b’s for d’s or my w’s for m’s, or even my p’s for q’s; I memorize the shape of the word as the sound of the word. Please don’t ask me to sound anything out, unless I have memorized its shape because I will struggle in deciphering the word. However, with music, the notes and phrasing become one big shape, and I feel the music.

In elementary school spelling was hard. My math skills were a few years ahead, but my English was behind a few years; therefore, I was labeled “average”. Also, during that time, I had an awesome music teacher that showed us the feel of music through solfège. This strategy really clicked for me. Solfège attached shape to sound just like how I attach shapes to words in my mind. I cannot express how much I loved music class as a young child, it was a class where I did not have to think about the next word and what it meant.

A few years later and both my parents could see that I was really struggling at school, especially with my vocab. I couldn’t file away all the shapes in my head to remember the new words fast enough, and I couldn’t sound it out. It got to the point where I just had to memorize the word and give myself little tips and tricks just so I could pass those Friday vocab tests.

Somewhere along the way it was discovered that if I heard the words while reading them, I could comprehend a passage. Text to speech became my friend. And guess what, if I sang what I was reading, it was stored in my memory immediately. Music became my lifesaver; that’s when I took a big step and auditioned for Columbus Children’s Choir.

Finding that link to music through solfège gave shape and texture to sound. It sent me on the path of placing text into a different part of my brain. Now, I memorize music and lyrics by associating what’s on the page to how it feels. Knowing how the sound feels gives me the knowledge that I am reading the words correctly. Singing twice a week in New World Singers reinforces written words getting into my brain and remaining there for future recall. This has tremendously boosted my confidence, in music as well as academics. My timidness and uncertainty are gone, and now I volunteer to answer questions in my College Prep classes without thinking twice. I also assist in helping teach Sunday School classes at my church, I mentor others in music class at school, and I now say “Yes, I can” when asked to complete a task that I used to shy away from due to low-confidence.

Singing in Columbus Children’s Choir has really helped me accomplish goals I never thought were possible. I may not become a music major in college, but the skills and experiences I have received by being a singer have helped me in countless ways. I can’t thank the Columbus Children’s Choir enough for teaching me the Kodaly method of singing. It has opened up so many doors for me.

Inspired by what you read today? Just $25 buys a full year’s worth of sheet music for our youngest singers. Make you gift today.

1 Comment
  • Bonnie Chronister
    Reply

    What a great story! I am going to pass this on to one of my choral students with Dyslexia. Also, my grandson may benefit from your experience. Keep singing!

    June 17, 2019 at 12:54 pm

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