It being difficult to inspire a child with dyslexia – it can be readers. For Anna Devin, growing up in Ireland this is what she first experienced, but later she found fame and success as an international opera singer and British Dyslexia Association (BDA) Ambassador.
There were expectations on Anna to be just as good as her mother and sister, but her mother was quick to spot her struggling at reading. At the age of six she was tested for dyslexia. However, attending a Convent school in Ireland they didn’t take her test results seriously. According to Anna the traditional form of teaching didn’t help. This resulted in her getting private lessons outside of school to teach her how to cope and learn methods about how to help in class. If she had an opportunity to go back to school she would reduce the amount of text-based learning she undertook as it took her 20 times as long to learn from a book. Anna hopes that things have changed with multimedia these days and that multi-sensory learning is more the norm. Despite her difficulties at school, Anna considers herself to be highly academic because she is a visual thinker – she learns things faster in a number of specific subjects like maths and biology, but English takes a bit longer as she has to find ways to make the text come alive.
A quote from W B Yeates (who was said to have been dyslexic), “Education is not filling a bucket, but lighting a fire’’. For Anna, music was not only her first love, it was her inspiration. By luck, at an early age, she found her own motivational spark from singing and playing the piano. Now she takes great joy and pleasure sharing her musical talents with other people around the world – being able to interact with the audience enjoying her performance is something she still finds very rewarding.
In finding her own success in music she no longer sees being dyslexic as a disadvantage. With the help of a physiologist that introduced her to Neuro Linguistic Programming, Anna has opened her eyes to appreciate that we all have different ways of learning. Every dyslexic can find this once they know how. Being an opera singer has been an education in itself that has made her think outside the box. Being able to adapt to different situations that can happen during a live performance, not to mention now being able to sing in 7 different languages, she no longer feels inhibited.
As an Ambassador for the BDA she wants to help inspire people particularly in the theatre and music industry.