Hitting A High Note - Black Enterprise

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Black Enterprise Magazine September/October 2018 Issue

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Give Darryl S. Duncan three simple words such as “funky,” “mid-tempo,” and “urban,” and he’ll compose a full musical score. The 43-year-old composer, songwriter, and producer is gifted enough to take a client’s instruction and create a melody in his head.

Yet, something he does with so much ease becomes difficult when he has to write it down. Duncan suffers from dyslexia, a disease that causes his mind to switch up letters and words. Musical notes also move around on paper, preventing him from reading or writing music.

Early on, Duncan had a tough time convincing teachers that his problem was real. At age 8, his organ instructor assumed that he wasn’t practicing and advised his parents to discontinue the lessons because he was uninterested. “Nothing was further from the truth,” says Duncan.

The lessons stopped, but Duncan did not. In high school, he was able to master most instruments. But when he enrolled at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago, dyslexia continued to prevented his teachers from recognizing his talent. Duncan persevered and, after a year in college, his musical ingenuity and hard work won him a position as a staff songwriter at Warner Brothers and A&M records, where he penned songs for Earth, Wind, and Fire and Jeffrey Osborne.

Now an entrepreneur, Duncan is the founder and CEO of Chicago-based GameBeat Studios (www.gamebeatstudios.com), which provides original music, sound effects, voiceovers, and related services for the marketing, television, and motion picture industries. GameBeat’s customers include Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, and Toyota.

When asked to create a specific musical piece, Duncan hears the complete idea for a song in his head and fleshes it out afterward. He found that using a digital recorder, dubbed his “lick saver,” helped him save his musical concepts before he forgot them. “My lick saver is my right arm. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without it,” he confides.

Duncan’s biggest fear as an adult was that he wouldn’t be able to keep his dyslexia a secret. But employees and business owners with dyslexia shouldn’t be embarrassed, advises Ralph Gardner, Ph.D., a faculty member in the Special Education Section of the Ohio State University College of Education.

“Identify your strengths and challenges so that you can articulate to your company what type of support you need,” Gardner says. A comprehensive assessment done by a qualified professional will help determine a person’s particular dyslexic needs.

Gardner adds that dyslexics need a systematic and redundant way of learning and remembering new things. For example, reading long documents at the office can deter comprehension, but periodic breaks to work on other projects can ease concentration difficulties. The International Dyslexia Association suggests dyslexics carry calculators, dictionaries, word processors, and/or voice recognition software that can assist with reading, writing, and comprehension.

Dyslexics can supplement reading with audio books from Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic (www.rfbd.org). Newspapers such as News For You (www.news-for-you.com), published by ProLiteracy Worldwide, provide daily news and current events for individuals with limited reading ability. In addition, America’s Literacy Directory (www.literacydirectory.org) provides

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Marcia Wade Talbert

Marcia is a multimedia content producer focusing on technology at Black Enterprise Magazine. In this capacity she writes and assigns stories to educate readers about social media; digital integration; gadgets, apps, and software for business and professional development; minority tech startups; and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). In 2012, she received two Salute to Excellence Awards from the National Association of Black Journalists and was recognized by Blacks in Technology (BiT) as one of the Top 10 Black achievers in the tech arena for 2011 at SXSW in Austin, Texas. She has spoken about technology on panels for New York Social Media Week, at The 2012 Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Summit, as well as at Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneurs Conference and Women of Power Summit. In 2011, SocialWayne.com chose her as one of 28 People of Color Impacting the Social Web, and through crowdsourcing she was listed as one of BlackWeb2.0's/HP's 50 Most Notable African American Tastemakers in Social Media and Technology for 2010. Since taking on the role of Tech editor in September 2010, she has conceived and produced five cover stories on Technology and/or STEM and countless articles, videos, and slideshows online. Before joining BlackEnterprise.com as an interactive general assignment reporter in 2008, she freelanced with Black Enterprise beginning in 2003 while working as the technical editor at Prepared Foods magazine. There she further honed her writing skills and became an authority on food ingredients, including ingredients used in food fortification and enrichment. Meanwhile, her freelancing with Black Enterprise and BlackEnterprise.com helped her stay current on issues pertaining to the financial and business welfare of African Americans. As a general reporter for Black Enterprise she attended and reported on the Democratic and Republican National Conventions, where she interviewed Valerie Jarrett, senior advisor and assistant to President Barack Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Marcia has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture with an emphasis in food science from the University of Minnesota, and a Master of Science degree in journalism from Roosevelt University in Chicago. En route to her secondary degree, she served as the editor-in-chief of the Roosevelt University Torch, a weekly, student-run newspaper. An avid photographer and videographer, Marcia is one of several employees at BLACK ENTERPRISE who interned for the publishing company as a college student. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, a food scientist; her seventeen-month-old daughter; and “The Cat”, but still considers Chicago home.

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