Where did SmartBeat come from?
The idea for SmartBeat arose from an interest in research relating to the benefits that music can have on the brain.
The idea for SmartBeat evolved while the creative director was working in the education department of a large London prison. The literacy problem among the prison population, with a high representation of dyslexia, is well-documented and it was clear that many prisoners who had problems with reading and writing were not motivated to attend traditional literacy classes in the education department. With a keen interest in the power of music to stimulate brain function, along with the motivational factor that music can have, she began to put her mind to thinking up a resource that would be musically-based, low cost, and which might have a direct benefit on literacy acquisition.
She came across some research by Dr Katie Overy into dyslexia and timing-deficits, suggesting that rhythm is a key factor in successful literacy acquisition and decided to develop an idea from Dr Overy’s doctoral research. That idea resulted in the SmartBeat interactive and classroom activities program. Further research by Professor Usha Goswami at the University of Cambridge supported Dr Overy’s findings, suggesting that “there is a link in dyslexic children between poor rhythmic response and poor reading ability” (read article here) and that phonological awareness in literacy may benefit from remedial programs which focus on rhythmic response.
Although the idea for SmartBeat started with a specific desire to develop a resource for dyslexic adults, the program is appropriate for any age group, and pilot studies have found that the activities also have beneficial effects on memory and concentration.
SmartBeat is non-text-based, non-culturally-specific and non-age-biased. It is remarkably flexible and applicable in a wide range of settings, from educational and therapeutic centres to home use, and can be used as an individual or a group activity.
In summary SmartBeat is a multi-modal sequencing activity which can have a number of benefits, ranging from literacy and dyslexia support to attention and memory difficulties. It can be used in a group environment such as the classroom or by individuals at home. SmartBeat is equally rewarding for people of any age, from young children to the elderly.
SmartBeat is easy to learn, challenging to master and fun to play!