There was a discussion on Facebook with a high school or college student recently. She was remarking how not having the 504 in place made it extremely frustrating to pass her piano class. She describes difficulty coordinating her hands to produce the sound. What made it worse, the person in front of her in her testing had the accommodations in place. The instructor did not offer the student the same leniency that was given to the other student.
Given this background, can studying how to play piano or any instrument and dysgraphia be related? The answer, yes.
Deficits in motor planning can slow the learning process. Motor planning is the development of the neural pathway that ultimately becomes an automatic response. Take writing the letter A for example. Your brain is taught with repetition that your write two diagonal lines and one horizontal line. Your neural pathways learn to write it. You don’t even think about how to write it.
Playing an instrument uses the same process to learn how to play it. It does not matter whether it’s a piano or another instrument. Repetition is the key to proficiency.
When, there is a brain body disconnection, this process can take 10 times longer than typical. Sometimes, this process never completes. These longstanding delays in motor planning can impact everything that a person does, from getting dressed in the morning, to eating and even handwriting.
Another name for difficulty with motor planning is called dyspraxia. Dyspraxia falls under Motor Dysgraphia. So yes, if you have difficulty playing a piano, you can have motor dysgraphia.
Some suggestions to help piano playing is to slow down the metronome. Step away from the keyboard and do some rhythm activities. Research has shown that drumming is calming. The rhythm reinforcement can help start the neural pathway development. After you can achieve the rhythm, add notes by speaking them.
Then, pull the keyboard back into the mix. By adding these other sensory-motor features to learning the song, it could shorten the learning time. It won’t work for everyone, but it could work for some students.