• developmental dyslexia;
  • music;
  • language;
  • timing;
  • rhythm;
  • temporal processing

Abstract: The underlying causes of the language and literacy difficulties experienced by dyslexic children are not yet fully understood, but current theories suggest that timing deficits may be a key factor. Dyslexic children have been found to exhibit timing difficulties in the domains of language, music, perception and cognition, as well as motor control. The author has previously suggested that group music lessons, based on singing and rhythm games, might provide a valuable multisensory support tool for dyslexic children by encouraging the development of important auditory and motor timing skills and subsequently language skills. In order to examine this hypothesis, a research program was designed that involved the development of group music lessons and musical tests for dyslexic children in addition to three experimental studies. It was found that classroom music lessons had a positive effect on both phonologic and spelling skills, but not reading skills. Results also indicated that dyslexic children showed difficulties with musical timing skills while showing no difficulties with pitch skills. These apparent disassociations between spelling and reading ability and musical timing and pitch ability are discussed. The results of the research program are placed in the context of a more general model of the potential relationship between musical training and improved language and literacy skills.