Long-standing Simply Music Teacher Greta Moré from Sydney, Australia shares her story of growing up with a unique life outlook that drew her naturally to Simply Music, and her experience teaching the program to students with dyslexia. Drawing from her extensive study of the Human Subtle System philosophy of well-being, she shares her view of how a single-thought-process approach like Simply Music lends itself so well to working with students with dyslexia.
I came to piano as an adult after doing many things in the arts and performing arts fields. My mother was a very good pianist and a beautiful mezzo-soprano who sang and played all the time. Try as I might, I couldn’t quite grasp learning how to play the piano the traditional way. It wasn’t until I came across the method, Simply Music Piano, that I realised that my dream of being able to play could now become a reality.
Life as a child growing up in Myanmar/Burma was filled with music, many hours of watching my mother play and the most absorbing hours of watching the piano tuner work: wiping, dusting and oiling every part before putting it all back together. There were also many hours spent gazing up at the clouds wafting by, forming all kinds of shapes and patterns. Every morning and evening flocks of birds taking off and returning home, always to swoop around a few times forming great arcs before disappearing into the treetops to settle down for the night.
The Burmese language too lends itself to creating pictures in one’s mind’s eye with its many allusions to the profound and the abstract. I am not sure if all these events in my childhood conspired to make me a visual learner or could it be that, as Human Beings, we are all, primarily, visual learners?
In my study of the Human Subtle System for more than twenty-five years, I came across the description of how thought transforms into speech: that it first originates as an abstract picture, a complete picture that is then translated into language format, using all the words that we have learned, so that it can be articulated. Until that abstract thought is put into words it doesn’t become a reality, only remaining as a potential.
With this as background, it seemed to me that dyslexics were people who were kind of stuck at that abstract stage, original-thought moment, and that their difficulty lay in sorting out the information that they had received – all in an instant. These abstract thought patterns come thick and fast, overwhelming their ability to lay things out in an orderly manner. Students manifested impatience due to frustration, which in turn made them make mistakes, leading to more frustration. It’s a cycle in which they’re caught and it’s easy to see why, more often than not, they want to give up.
This is where the Simply Music playing-based method, unfolding on the linear instrument of piano, comes into the picture. I found that I could draw the attention of the dyslexic student to hang on to the concepts of working ‘one thought process at a time’, of ‘turning down the speed dial’ so that hand/mind/eyes could coordinate and ‘say and play’ in order for the mind to be able to map/follow what the hands were doing. A means to un-jumble! Playing the piece first gave them the big picture then working from the microscopic layers back to the macroscopic, helped them to acquire the missing link of how to ‘sort things out’. The linear left-to-right nature of the piano and the pitch going from low to high provided a tangible way for the student to get a holistic view of the information.
I noticed how the ‘jumbled up’ effect of receiving information has hurt the nervous systems of people who have dyslexia and has created a kind of a pain in the brain. They associate learning with pain. My understanding of the Left and Right Nervous Systems, from the Subtle perspective, and how it directly relates to the workings of the Left and Right lobes of the brain, allowed me to help with ‘balancing’ the two systems until they came to a unified point. This is where the mind also becomes calm and in this calmness the student is able to see things clearly, giving them the feeling of empowerment.
The process of playing piano engages all five senses. The nerve endings at the tips of the ten fingers are wired directly to the nervous system, which is in turn directly wired to the brain. Left hand, right hand and together, small parcels of information at a time, the very manageable one-page length of most of the pieces and the fast turnaround through the different genres is very suitable for the dyslexic brain. It is being fed the way it loves to receive information, with the added bonus of being shown how to break down that information so that it doesn’t remain jumbled, but is articulated. The success that the student experiences is a tremendous relief for them, and the gains made with each successive lesson is another step forward in helping them to develop their linear perspective.
Each song in the Simply Music’s Foundational program, with their unique systems of unfolding, has been just right for moving forward, incrementally, without hurting the nerves or creating pain in the brain of the dyslexic student.
In this short article, I have not gone into the reasons why a person is dyslexic from any medical perspective, but rather from the subtle perspective, and the Simply Music method being the perfect vehicle. I have understood these students well because, although I am not dyslexic, I have a very strong abstract way of seeing things and found an affinity with them. I have access to that primordial place where thoughts originate but I never knew what it was until I came across the knowledge of the Human Subtle System and the way thoughts arise and turn into words/speech. Music is a form of language/speech that has to be articulated through our whole being.
“Music is like a painting to be expressed. Melody and Harmony are like lines and colours in pictures.” Rabindranath Tagore