Joan Peters

Owner & Teacher

Here are some articles that I have written and were published:

What is Dyslexia?  (Spokane Family Magazine, September/October 2010)

For many, the thought of having dyslexia sounds scary. The good news is that something can be done to correct and/or minimize dyslexic symptoms so that one can achieve academic success.

 Dyslexia - impaired (dys) + reading (lexia) - is primarily neurological in origin. Current research and neuro-imaging have shown that there are differences in how the left and the right sides of the brain function. The left side is the academic and orderly side of the brain, where language, speech, math skills, logic, reasoning and sequencing take place. The right side is where the random, artistic, creative and intuitive thinking happens. Left-brained people see the details or parts of the picture, whereas right-brained people see the whole picture. Ideally, we all need a balance between the left and the right brain so that we can see how the details make the bigger picture.

Dyslexia is said to be a right brain issue. Dyslexics are usually right brain dominant and tend to reverse letters, have speech and language delays, trouble with math, poor working memory, poor concentration, retention, balance/coordination issues, poor handwriting and visual/auditory processing difficulties. This is because the right brain doesn't process language, math skills or sequencing.

 Dyslexia is a "brain" thing rather than an "academic" thing. The brain, like our muscles, can be retrained and strengthened. Non-academic activities that promote coordination like juggling, jumping rope, riding a bike, playing an instrument and musical/listening games are helpful in developing and strengthening the parts of the brain needed for academics. Just like a balanced diet, the brain needs a balance, too. SFM

The Magic of Music - by Joan Peters  (Spokane Family Magazine Jan/Feb 2011)

Did you know that music is a great way to improve you child's reading, writing, and math skills? Playing an instrument or even just listening to music does wonders for the brain. It activates many areas needed for language, listening, math, and coordination. Not only that, following a sequence, such as a melody or a rhythm pattern, can improve concentration and memory.

 To interest your child in music, make it a part of your lifestyle. Music is something you can do with your children from even the youngest age, prior to even having them learn to play an instrument. The first thing is to create an environment filled with music. This doesn't mean playing classical CDs all day. Any enjoyable music, especially children's songs, that will make your child want to jump up, dance, or sing along will create the right atmosphere. You can use puppets, finger plays, nursery rhymes, and even make instruments with your children. Then they can tape or shake along with their favorite songs.

Once your child shows an interest beyond tapping and shaking, you can introduce the sounds of different instruments and narrow down what they would like to try. Better yet, your child will most likely have a friend who plays an instrument, like the piano. You child may poke around on their friend's piano and decide they want to take lessons. The best way to avoid spending tons of money on an instrument is to rent, borrow, or buy used.

 There are important things to look for in a teacher, now that your child is interested in lessons. Personality goes a long way. Make sure the music teacher approaches lessons in a fun, personable way, so that your child doesn't get discouraged because of the experience. The relationship a teacher and student build is the key to your child's success in learning to play an instrument. Structure and good form count too, but you want the whole experience to be a good one. The best way to look for a teacher is word of mouth. Ask other parents at your child's school or church. If you don't have any luck there, call music stores and ask whom they'd recommend.

Music is a magical experience that children can partake in. Not only can your child enjoy playing an instrument and learn to appreciate music, but music can make your child smarter without even knowing it!


Another article I have written about the benefits of music:

What Music Can Do for the Brain - by Joan Peters

Music is the perfect tool. It is highly structured by its notation, harmony, rhythm, and texture. Playing an instrument or even listening to music activates many parts of the brain, including the areas needed for listening, language, organization, sequencing, and movement. These are the same parts of the brain needed for reading, writing, math, concentration, and coordination. Music helps us hear, see, think, and move.

Music is good for the brain. It organizes the brain with its timing, coordination of movement, and with its rhythmic and melodic patterns. The brain responds to pitch, key, texture, timbre, tempo, and dynamics. Pitch allows us to recognize melodies. Key, major or minor, can make us feel happy or sad. Texture, the combination of melody, harmony, and rhythm in a song, can be rich with many layers, or it can be thin with just a melody and an accompaniment. Timbre, or tone color of a voice or instrument, allows us to distinguish one instrument from another and can add to the texture and the mood of music. Tempo, how fast or slow music is, can be energizing or calming. Dynamics, the loudness of music, can add to the interpretation of music by accenting notes, or by contrasting and shaping melodies, making music more interesting to listen to.

 Music does so much for us. It can help us focus and be more productive. It can help with learning and can improve memory. It can sharpen listening, language and visual skills as we listen to, imagine, read, and interpret scores. Music can be relaxing, as it relieves stress by changing mood and slowing the heart rate. It can also lower blood pressure and boost immunity. It can help with depression, anxiety, and pain. Music is also an outlet, allowing us to express ourselves. It is perfect for the mind, the body, and the soul. Young or old, music should be a part of everyone's lives.