I sat and listened intently as my brother played his guitar. It was one of my favorite tunes, and I hummed along. His fingers swiftly graced the strings as every chord, every note, blended beautifully with the next. He smiled as he finished his song and hung his guitar on the wall beside the many others that he owned. I thought back to the first time he picked up a guitar. You would have never known he was going to be a musician in a band back then. He HATED music. Our mom had made him take guitar lessons as a last resort. You see, my brother has dyslexia.
Growing up, school was hard for him. He struggled to learn to read and learn math facts. Mom tried everything. For years we had multiplication facts written on index cards and taped to our stairs. Everyone who went up or down was required to say the facts aloud. This actually helped my brother learn them. As his struggles grew, his self-esteem withered. My mom found little ways to help him learn each new thing that came his way, but she was not looking for a way to help him learn anything new this time. No, that day that she forced him to try guitar, which was her desperate attempt as a mother to help him feel successful at something. She knew that life might always be harder for him than others, but that was okay. Everyone has challenges. She wanted him to know what it was like to feel good about something you accomplished all your own; something uniquely you.
I DON’T WANT TO DO THIS
“Just one lesson.” That was what she said. “If you don’t like it, you don’t have to continue.”
He tried one lesson. It wasn’t so bad, so he continued…and continued. Gradually, little by little, we all began to realize that he was really good at this. You could see the transformation in him. He began to play for us, and we would cheer him on. Music became his outlet. It meant everything to him. He even began to write music. Soon after, Mom discovered that he liked to dance as well. He began dance lessons and excelled at them, too.
Today, he writes and records his own music. He has always worked in the music industry and was in a band for a time. In a way, music saved his life; not physically, but emotionally and psychologically. It gave him hope and a purpose. My brother and my mom laugh about that day now and how badly he did NOT want to take that first lesson and how now we all make fun of him for his extensive guitar collection.
SOMETHING SPECIAL INSIDE OF YOU
If your child has a learning disability of any kind, they are going to face struggles. I’m not here to tell you how to make those struggles easier for them. I’m here to tell you not to give up hope and to especially not allow them to give up hope. Find something that they succeed at. Do not stop searching and trying until you find something that they enjoy and are good at. This is imperative. Tell them that everyone has a special gift inside them just waiting to be discovered. Encourage them to try one more thing. Sure, they might fail, but they might succeed, too. It doesn’t matter what their gift is, it matters if they feel good about themselves when they do it.
I don’t know if there’s any link to dyslexia and music, but it sure helped my brother. There are lots of other famous musicians with dyslexia. Tony Bennett, Ozzy Osbourne, Carly Simon, and Jewel are all successful musician who also have dyslexia. Who knows? It might help your child. It might not. The point is finding something that they are amazing at…and they know it.