I’m gonna give guitar lessons to a child who has dyspraxia. Any idea, or advice? I don’t know how difficult it’s gonna be for him to work on the guitar, so if anybody here has any advice or experience regarding this, I would be grateful, and I’ll buy you…
Hi! I’m a dyspraxic who is also a musician, who also happens to study music and movement at university for my PhD. I’m also a certified music therapist and taught private violin, piano and guitar lessons for many years.
First of all, I would recommend breaking things down into the smallest steps possible at first; information processing can take a little a time, especially when there are lots of spatial thing and fine-motor manipulation going on. If the student struggles with an initial instruction, break it down. Depending on the child’s age, there might also be some issues with finger strength, so just watch out if that’s adding to any difficulty.
Rhythmic processing and sensorimotor coordination are definitely tougher for pandas. I had a really hard time with rhythm, and still do—I played violin seriously all the way through undergrad, and I was embarrassingly bad at syncopation, anything tied. A trick I figured out for myself is to force subdivision by taking whatever the smallest beat division you have, say sixteenth notes, and playing everything metronomically as if the sixteenth notes that are “inside” an eighth or doted eighth or whatever are written out. It really helped me wrap my mind around tough rhythmics.
Also: repetition, repetition, repetition. Generally, pandas don’t have coordination problems with even complex movements once they become a learned (or over-learned) motor program. I used to tell my students to think of their fingers as “mice” that they had to “train” to do the movements automatically. Organizing movements always to a strong beat will help this process. From the beginning, the student should have a use a metronome—without even a hint of sarcasm I say that my metronome is my best friend.
Every success is worth celebrating! Pandas are used to frustration and failure, so go with positive reinforcement above all and your student should have a beneficial experience!