A one time ‘orphan Annie’ is set to embark on a journey around the world in a bid to find strategies for dyslexic classical singers.
Ailie Reid has been awarded a travel fellowship by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, which helps Brits to travel overseas and bring back knowledge for the benefit of others in the UK.
Ailie, who is dyslexic herself, has become successful in the world of classical music despite the struggles of the condition, and she is passionate about helping others do the same.
After starting out as a youngster in a production of Annie in Berwick, she went on to study at the Royal Northern College of Music, before travelling with the Carl Rosa Opera company and has sung for the Norwegian King and Queen.
Closer to home she sang at Bamburgh castle with the Northern Sinfonetti Orchestra last year.
“I’m dyslexic and have come across all sorts of difficulties,” she explained. “Standing in front of an orchestra and the timing gets changed for example, quickly having to get your head around a new system. It’s difficult. It’s something that I constantly have to work on.
“I have been teaching for over 10 years and having seen students suffering and having confidence issues, I thought, I’m going to have to address this.”
Ailie has a passion for finding out how people learn, and identifying different learning styles,
“I think the way that we teach music traditionally is not that helpful for dyslexics,” she said. “Knowing what your learning style is is a big step forward. If you know what your strengths and deficiencies are you stand a real chance.”
Ailie was invited to start a PhD at Edinburgh University in September, researching strategies for dyslexic classical singers. “Music and dyslexia is a very new topic and there is very little published on the subject,” she said. “I’ve come across one or two books but they focus on playing piano or cello. I’ve not been able to find anything for singers.”
This is something Ailie intends to change, and ultimately aims to write a book on the subject after conducting research in Europe, Canada and America.
Her research has been given a significant boost with the news that the WCMT will fund Ailie to travel and explore the subject further.
“I’m just so happy to get some recognition of this issue,” she said. “I’m so pleased that a big organisation such as the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust came forward and showed a commitment to this project, which could make a difference to a lot of singers.
“This grant will enable me to go to other countries and see how theories work in practise. You can read about it but a lot of them are kinesthetic, so to see it first had will be invaluable.”
Ailie currently teaches Bel Canto singing in Morpeth and Edinburgh, as well as Berwick (at St George’s United Reform Church, Spittal) where she is actively looking for students.
Her speciality is multi sensory teaching for all singers, beginner to advanced, with or without dyslexia.
She is also keen to hear anyone’s experiences of singing with dyslexia. To share your problems or solutions, or to find out more about lessons, contact Ailie at firstname.lastname@example.org