Music Reading and Developmental Vision

Yellow Cat

The Yellow Cat is back!  It’s been two years since I blogged about the Cat.  If you’re really into music education, you can see some nice proprietary videos from the Yellow Cat here.  Our colleague Dr. Paul Harris wrote one of the few articles in the literature about visual profiles of musicians.  What excited me this morning was the Cat’s latest piece entitled: “Quick Vision Check”.  Here are some great potential signs she suggests that music teachers observe:

1. Is there a relationship between how many times a student moves his eyes and how well that student reads his music?

2. Do students who read well move their eyes more or less than students who don’t?

3. Do you have students who don’t look at the music at all?

4. Do you have students who tilt their heads to the side when reading?

5. Do you have students who move their heads from side to side when moving their eyes across the page?

6. Do your students’ eyes track in the right place in the music?

CatCat proceeds to advise that piano teachers are in a great position to inform parents when they suspect a vision problem and when doing so, should recommend a good Developmental Optometrist or an Ophthalmologist who specializes in vision and how children learn.  The latter may seem peculiar until you remind yourself that Cat is an acquaintance of our visionhelp colleague, Dr. Nancy Torgerson, who enjoys a collaborative relationship with a pediatric ophthalmologist who “gets it”.

The key to making sure that parents grasp this, Cat notes, is to direct them to or

Take a close look at the Cat’s three page masterpiece, and share it with piano teachers and parents of children taking lessons for any instrument involving music reading.  It’s an instant classic!

Yellow Cat Banner

6 thoughts on “Music Reading and Developmental Vision

  1. At last year’s COVD meeting, someone posted a poster that included a single sheet of music. It was the single most complex information vehicle I have ever seen on paper. Rhythem, notes, sustains, rests, sharps and flats and many more subtleties were noted on this incredible piece of sheet music. Yet, the duration of the music was probably no more than 8-10 seconds. The quantity and quality of information is far more complex on sheet music than in any book. It is no wonder to me that so many music students abandon their studies once they are required to read it on a page. I believe this is the main reason so many music students quit once they are able to pick out a piece on their instrument. That is one of the unique things VT has to give to the arts, the ability to take in and follow sheet music. Few music students stay interested once they are confronted with this monumental visual task so long as they are impeded by poor visual and perceptual processing. I hope all VT ODs will take this message out to the music instructors in their community. Thanks Len for a great post!

  2. Great article. I have an 11-yr-old daughter with convergence insufficiency & exotropia along with dyspraxia and executive function issues. She’s struggled reading music, but she’s gifted in that she can play by ear beautifully. She started vision therapy 2 months ago and I’m hoping to see improvement in her ability to read music since she loves it so much & it has such great impact on her.

  3. Pingback: Music Reading and Developmental Vision

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