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Kristl Kirk wins PhD Spotlight Arts and Humanities prize

Posted on 14 January 2020

Kristl won the category for her project on decoding music with dyslexic students.

The PhD Spotlight competition took place at YorkTalks, a day of 15-minute talks from our academics celebrating York's groundbreaking, world-leading research. 12 selected PhD students from across the University created exhibition pieces to display their research projects that guests could browse during breaks in the talks.

Kristl's research aims to learn more about effective teaching strategies, using specific apps, alternative music scores and working with the student’s strengths to create useful resources.

Dyslexia affects at least 10 per cent of the population. Previous research has demonstrated the benefits of music for overall brain development, including the use of rhythmic training to improve dyslexic students' reading abilities. However, very little research has been done to understand how dyslexic students process music learning, and there are very few resources for instrumental music teachers.

Dyslexia is often associated with misspellings and reversed letters, but in fact may also include memory issues, visual disturbances and motor coordination difficulties. Many of the difficulties which are encountered may create challenges for both the teacher and the student when learning to play a musical instrument. Kristl's research looks into how teachers can be more informed in the way they teach dyslexic students.

Kristl is a pianist, teacher and music education researcher (MA, York). Her PhD combines a passion for music and research, with a particular focus on students with dyslexia. Experiences in her teaching practice were a motivating force driving her ambition to make transformative impact in the lives of dyslexic students, their parents, exam boards, schools and universities. A recipient of the Vinson Scholarship through the Department of Music, Kristl is currently in the second year of her PhD and is supervised by Dr Liz Haddon.

Alongside Kirstl winning the Arts and Humanities catergory, Evelyn Tan of Computer Science won the Science category, while Petronel Geyser and James Killen of York Law School jointly won the Social Sciences category. Petronel Geyser also won the overall prize.

Read more about YorkTalks.