Daniel Powter’s hit single “Bad Day” went platinum three times in America. He became the first Canadian solo artist in ten years to be #1 on Billboard’s Top 100. He won New Artist of the Year at the 2006 Juno Awards and went on to release a total of six albums as a solo artist. Contrary to these successes in the music industry, Powter’s early history with music wasn’t quite as successful. His dyslexia affected not only his reading and writing of words, but of music—a rare trait of dyslexic musicians.

Powter began his interest in the fine arts early, beginning with piano lessons before he was four years old. By the time he was 13, he had picked up the violin too, but his dyslexia was affecting the way he read notes on the music staff. Having been diagnosed with dyslexia in the third grade, Powter was used to struggling with his academics, but he had found comfort in music, despite having difficulties with reading the notes off of the page. Powter knew he wanted to pursue music though, and enrolled in a music college right out of high school. But his dyslexia continued to present obstacles for him, and Powter dropped out because of his still-present difficulties with reading music.

Even though Powter’s dyslexia continued to affect his ability to read music, he kept pursuing a career in music. He abandoned learning how to play music by sheet music and instead focused on learning how to play music by ear and gained an interest in writing his own songs rather than attempting to read others. Guitar became then his main instrument, allowing him to learn chords by ear and build improvisational skills. He has called dyslexia a “gift”, allowing him to focus on his own compositions and experience music from a purely auditory outlet without the barrier of sheet music.

Read a biography on Daniel Powter here, or check out this page on dyslexic musicians.