VPD in the Studio

Sarah is gifted with a visual processing disorder.

By understanding the symptoms of Visual Processing Disorder, along with the research undertaken in terms of effective accommodations, private music teachers are able to structure their lessons to create an optimal learning environment for gifted children with VPD.

Accommodations, program variations and things to consider when planning for a gifted student with VPD can include:

Provide access to large text in an uncluttered format. This may include significantly enlarging print music in order for the student to be able to follow the lines and spaces of the staff clearly thus determining the notes.

Provide access to higher level audio text/listening guides, including videos and clips, in order to cater for high cognitive ability. Engaging other senses and opening other areas of exploration provides opportunity for students who are gifted with VPD to expand their cognitive ability without being restricted by their disability.

Color code notation to assist in tracking. Students with VPD can benefit from highlighted notation in order to help them follow the music closely. Teacher’s may consider removing the letter names (following on from the example below) in response to the students level of impairment and to assist in reading skills. Feedback from parents in term of the student’s treatment process and improved tracking may be considered in terms of removing extent of coloring.

color code

Provide a multi-sensory approach to learning including  auditory, visual, tactile and kinesthetic. Restricting musical progression by setting limits on the learning modes is detrimental to the gifted student with VPD. Being cognitively capable requires engagement and development in other areas such as auditory (listening/hearing), tactile (touching) and kinesthetic (movement). Advanced aural practice is one such example.

Allow different pathways for learning (VanTassel-Baska & Stambaugh 2006). Whilst gifted students with VPD may have trouble following music notation and learning to read music efficiently, (particularly multiple notes in the case of pianists) cognitively, they may be able to learn and perform at a level asynchronous to their reading ability. That is, much higher. Deferring note-reading may be a suitable option for these students, thus drawing on an efficient and often high-ability memory capability to learn their instrument. 

Adjustments to the musical score. In some cases, students with APD are unable to cross the mid-line. Pieces of music that involve crossing the mid-line may need to be adjusted to exclude crossing over. An example of this would be a piano piece in which the left hand crosses over the right hand to play high notes. The student may be physically incapable of processing the cross-over and connecting the notes on the page with what the fingers/designated arm must do.

VPD adjustments for exams can include:

-Large print text types

-Marking answers next to questions, as opposed to on a separate sheet. 

-Specifically defined extra time.