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What does it feel like to be a less able reader — to at tempt to decode and process text when everyone around you seems to be much more advanced than yourself? What strategies might be used to help less able readers decode and process text in a symbol-sound system? This study uses participant-observer research methods to elicit answers to these questions. As a graduate student at the University of Minnesota studying literacy education, I needed to find an instance where: a) I was a less able learner, and b) I was involved in the process of decoding in a complex symbol-sound system. There are many similarities between reading words and reading music (Flemming, 1988). Thus, I auditioned for and participated for two quarters in the University of Minnesota concert choir. This experience, I found, paralleled that of a less able reader learning to decode alphabetic text. I was able to gain insight into the feelings of a less able reader and find specific strategies that teachers of reading might use to enhance reading instruction.

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