Volume 11 #76
The other day a new student of mine did a spelling exercise in the earphones with some nice Mozart going into his right hemisphere and fifteen sentences dictated into his left. It wasn’t bad. There were only three or four spelling mistakes, which were, however, nearly unnoticeable under a total lack of periods and capital letters. I fixed the periods problem with my usual story about the class that began using stars, spirals, suns, bugs, and whatever rather than have their names up on a pink (blush) chart for lack of a simple thing like a dot.
However, when I asked him to redo the exercise to correct the spelling mistakes, he wanted to know why he couldn’t just do the few words he had gotten wrong instead of the whole thing, especially since he promised never again to forget a period. (So far he hasn’t. Nice kid.) So I sat down at my piano and as he stood next to it I played through a G major scale, starting at the low end of the keyboard, going up four octaves at a pretty good clip, back down, up again, down again for three trips. Then I asked him why he thought pianists did this every time they started to practice. Speed? No, it is always the same speed. Warm up exercise? Partly, although there are some warm-ups that are better done slowly. He gave up.
Four times up and down for endurance. Just like running. If he only repeated the words he had misspelled, he might not remember them next time he was writing a couple of sentences. They might be gone tomorrow if he hadn’t had to physically keep them in memory while his brain was doing a bunch of other things. The same principle holds with spelling exercises of the word lists. Three or four errors? Do the whole thing again. When a student realizes that he does this to develop endurance, and not because he was stupid to make mistakes, he doesn’t mind.
There is another reason to repeat a whole exercise. The benefit of these exercises comes from the minutes you spend doing your sound-symbol matching without using the corpus callosum. The longer you stay in the earphone set-up or use the I-Card, the longer you train those neurons to work together. (If you haven’t a clue as to what I am talking about, go to the web site, dyslexia.org, scroll down to “The Jigsaw Puzzle” and read it through).
Then why shouldn’t you use the I-Card whenever you read anything? Because doing exercises is not reading. Doing barre exercises is not performing ballet. Doing scales is not playing Mozart. And just getting the words off the page is not reading. It is called word-calling. To understand and enjoy what you read you need contributions from both hemispheres. But the contributions from the left side must first be accurate. Shirt is not skirt. Misreading it could cause various problems.