UBC researchers study success of opera students with learning disabilities

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      A new UBC study is delving into what drives students with learning disabilities to succeed during intensive training in opera.

      The study, focused on a group of students in the university’s opera program, is being led by education professor Marion Porath and opera chair Nancy Hermiston.

      “It is possible to have a learning disability and be immensely gifted,” Porath said in a news release from UBC today (May 30).

      “Our early findings suggest that students’ passion carries them through many of the challenges they face and gives them the drive and determination to succeed.”

      “But they also need to be understood and supported in the areas where they’re challenged.”

      Said Hermiston in the release: “In opera you have to act, sing, dance, watch the conductor, respond to the audience, and work in a foreign language, all at the same time.”

      “It means training the brain to think in a different way.”

      The researchers plan to present the study at a major social sciences and humanities conference taking place in Victoria from June 1 to 8.