APD and Playing A Musical Instrument

Hi Jeff,

My son has been diagnosed with APD and at his school it's compulsory to learn the violin. He is only just passing the subject and doesn't find enjoyment in it at all. I was wondering if you have ever played and instrument and whether you struggled with it. Do you think learning an instrument is either beneficial or detrimental to his schooling? (I'm concerned that his struggles effect his self esteem and I'm also worried that forcing him to practice is taking time away from other activities he could be doing that are more beneficial to him). Thanks so much for taking the time to read my email.



  playing an instrument with APD CAPD

Hi Alana!

Good questions.

I never learned to play an instrument. However, I do remember it being encouraged - and I did try the standard violin in 9th grade. My biggest hurdles were 1) being able to correctly hear the teacher's verbal instructions / lessons in class, 2) understand them in real-time, 3) immediately be able to duplicate what the teacher just played, and 4) then be able to play in sync with the rest of the class. It was not easy and I didn't like going to that class one bit. In fact, I still vividly remember that particular classroom to this day. I was always afraid that I would be called out by the teacher and embarrassed for "playing it wrong or off key." And yes, that happened. It was obvious I wasn't following along well at times no matter how attentive I was.

Practicing at home allowed me to make mistakes and learn at my own speed. But, I dreaded the class and that affected my whole experience. No, it didn't help my confidence either.

That experience was very short-lived. The school transferred me to a home economics / cooking class for the rest of the semester. That class was awesome. Love to cook and it was mostly girls :). I still have all the recipes too.

Oddly, now that I'm older (43), I'd love to learn to play the guitar.

I don't think learning an instrument is detrimental to his schooling. I understand the importance of introducing kids to music & instruments while they are young. It's much easier to learn when at that age. However, for a child with APD, classes like music and foreign languages can be a royal headache. He may need additional time and help to learn at his speed.

Depending on how long your son is required to play the violin, I suggest a one-on-one tutor or lessons after school with the teacher. It may quicken the pace and require less trial-and-error practice on his own. Should improve his confidence too that he CAN do it (whether he likes violin or he totally hates it).

Are his teachers aware of his APD? Most of my teachers were notified ahead of each school year. My parents wrote a letter to include in my school file.

On a general note, being that your son may not appreciate music or understand the words to songs (both very common with APD), he may learn to find "emotion" or "feeling" in instrumentals. For me, I still like or dislike a tune based on the instrumental performance.

With all this said, I understand fully his personal struggle with self-esteem at that age (and your concerns). It's going to be an issue as he grows up. He will be more sensitive than most to the ups and downs of self-esteem. Not comprehending what he hears, being unsure of verbal instructions, etc. is very unsettling.

A really good way to build his confidence and self-esteem is for him to follow a passion. I agree entirely with you. When he is not having to practice violin, encourage him to find something he likes and is interested in getting better at. It may take a while, but look what he likes to do for enjoyment. Growing up, I always liked building things with my hands whether it be legos, models, fully functional go-carts, elaborate tree-houses in the backyard, etc. I loved building things. Made me feel great seeing the results. Played baseball in school. I can also draw extremely well. Enjoyed that too. All three things made me feel great.

Recently, I had a similar conversation with my 12 year old step-daughter. She too is being forced to learn A LOT of different things in school. I told her to try them. If you like it - great! If not, DO NOT get down on yourself. Do the best you can and move on. It's not permanent. Some things you will be better at than others. The goal is to find what you like from a large pool of options they are throwing at you. There are a lot of things you won't like - and that's ok! Pursue what interests you. You'll notice everybody will chose something different. That's the point.

Some good advice: I recommend this for everybody, especially anyone with APD. Your son should practice reading body language. He has and will encounter many situations where what people say verbally isn't what their body is saying. He will find comfort in believing and understanding body language over the spoken word as a more accurate indicator of an interaction. As he gets older and starts dating & eventually gets out of school to start a career, understanding body language can't be understated. So many people don't say what they really mean and it will be even more confusing for him than the average person. The body doesn't lie! He will be better able to reconcile what's really going on in any situation even if he hears it incorrectly.

Hope this helps! I was in a writing mood. This topic really got me going.

Feel free to follow-up and ask anything.


PS: I have two friends (one from elementary school and one from college) who are brilliant at violin. They still perform at concerts and love it. Everyone else I know dropped their instruments like a hot potato and ran like the wind.

0 0 0 0 0 0
  • 9486
Top Categories
It's Popular. Take a Look.
Noooo, I do not. As mentioned in the list of signs of Auditory Processing Disorder (APD), it's hard to find appreciation in song vocals.  To date, I don't think I have ever understood one song from beginning to end in real time. I need to look up the lyrics or I am lost. I have three problems with song vocals: 1 – I simply cannot understand or distinguish some of the words correctly. Once I fall b
There are 4 subtypes of Auditory Processing Disorder, depending upon where along the way to the brain the "signals" get distorted or lost: "Tolerance/Fading Memory" subtype "Decoding" subtype "Integration" subtypes "Prosodic" subtype (often seen with NLD or non-verbal learning disability) The following checklist is courtesy of Judith W. Paton, M.A. Audiologist and Bonnie G. Rattner, Ed. D, Spee
A person with Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) will experience some or all of the following signs. •    Needs to (or should) ask many extra questions to clarify a task before starting; "doesn't get the picture." •    Has trouble paying attention to and remembering information presented ORALLY; a person with APD copes better and remembers VISUALLY acquired information. •    Appears to have poor
Yes and no. I took Spanish for 4 years in high school. I was a whiz at memorizing words and sentence creation. On written tests, I could read each question and respond correctly. However, when it came to responding to a question the teacher verbally asked me, I was unsure of what I heard and how to respond. I ended up with a B grade on average. In college, I took 2 years of Japanese. At the time,
Auditory Processing Disorder (APD or CAPD) affects the way my brain processes auditory information. I do not process the information I hear in the same way as others do, which leads to difficulties in me recognizing and interpreting sounds, especially the sounds composing speech. In layman's terms, what does that mean?I hear perfectly (no hearing loss whatsoever in either ear) and my brain works b
No. I don't. Here's my problem. With Auditory Processing Disorder, I find it very difficult to focus on both the on screen action while simultaneously processing everything each character is saying. Plus, there are implications and inferences from what each just character said that I need to process in real-time too. Then, I must process the inferences and implications from on screen images &
Hi Jeff, My son has been diagnosed with APD and at his school it's compulsory to learn the violin. He is only just passing the subject and doesn't find enjoyment in it at all. I was wondering if you have ever played and instrument and whether you struggled with it. Do you think learning an instrument is either beneficial or detrimental to his schooling? (I'm concerned that his struggles effect his
Roy writes... Hey Jeff... Just searching the web about APD and taking the SAT as my daughter is at that age. She was diagnosed in elementary school and went through testing and had a IEP in place etc. Although since elementary school she has been attending a private school without public school ieps etc. We recently applied to the college board for extended time due to APD and was denied and they
Yes, I was naturally lip reading at a very young age. It was discovered by accident as I was getting language therapy help for my Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) at Jawanio (in New York). Dr. Bollard was reading instructions from her clip board and slowly lifted it up, placing it in front of her mouth. As soon as she did, I stopped understanding what she was saying. When she lowered the clip bo
Auditory Processing Disorder even back then (1988-1989 when I was in high school) was considered a learning disability, so I was able to take the SAT's UNTIMED. That meant I could take as much time as needed (within reason) to complete my SAT's. It's important to know that if your child has a learning disability, you can request taking the SAT untimed. It can make an enormous difference in both t
Ellen writes... Hi Jeff, I came across your page looking for advice and help in regards to my son. I am looking for help for him. First I just wanted to tell you that he is wonderful young man. However, I am so worried about him and his future. He is entering is senior year in college next month. Although he struggle in the early grades at school he has done well with a grade point average of 3.4.
In this 3 part video series, learn what Auditory Processing Disorder is, how early intervention can influence your child's development and the treatments for APD that are available. You'll see real-life examples of how Auditory Processing Disorder affects parents and children. I found it very enlightening and encouraging.This episode of "A Place of Our Own" provides a lot of valuable information a