Why Don’t People Stutter When They Sing?

Why Don’t People Stutter When They Sing?

singing, stuttering, One of the enigmas about stuttering is that most people who stutter when talking don’t stutter when singing. Actually, it is often thought that no one stutters when they sing, but I have observed a few exceptions. Of the thousands of people who I have either evaluated or treated, a handful have stuttered occasionally when singing, particularly when starting to sing. Nonetheless, stuttering is very rare when singing.

An acceptable theory of stuttering has to account for this phenomenon. Therefore, I am going to explain from the perspective of my theory why people who stutter don’t stutter when they sing and what the difference is between speaking and singing.

When singing, the subconscious intent is to produce a voice that contains a sequence of varied vocal tones. This sequence makes up the melody of the song. The melody of a song is developed in the brain. As this is done, the motor area of the brain sends signals to the muscles of the larynx so that they will vibrate with the right pitch and rhythm. If you want to see this for yourself, sing a song silently. If you become aware of what happens in your throat, you will sense that your vocal folds are prepared to vibrate, even though you want to remain silent. The brain sends these signals automatically whether you are singing silently or aloud. Singing is all about voice and melody. When the song contains lyrics, nothing changes. The speech sounds are formed automatically without any thought or effort. Singing works this way for almost all people.

For the fluent speaker, speaking and singing are created in a similar way from the same exact anatomical structures. The same signals to vibrate the same vocal folds are subconsciously sent from the brain. This creates intonation, the speech equivalent to melody. Intonation becomes speech sounds as the mouth moves automatically. This can happen because fluent speakers are not aware of the words they are saying. For people who stutter speaking and singing are done differently. When speaking, the focus of attention for people who stutter is the words. In one way or another, they are concerned with saying words and “getting them out”. Intonation takes a backseat as the brain tries to control word formation. Subconsciously, the brain is busy sending signals to lips, tongue, jaw, etc. Instead of the mouth automatically shaping the voice (intonation) into speech sounds, the voice becomes a vehicle for pushing out already formed speech sounds and words. For people who stutter the processes of speaking and singing are done very differently. For people who speak fluently, they are almost identical. During Dynamic Stuttering Therapy, clients begin to understand this difference between these 2 ways of speaking and they report a big difference in the ease of speaking when they do it in the way that it is don by normally fluent speakers.

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  1. maki says

    people who statter do not have a problem when singing,but they have a problem in starting a song if one already have a problem in that particular sound

  2. Leah Goodman says

    It’s not that you should “sing your way through life.” It’s that the mechanism you use for singing can be used for speech, too. This is one reason that Dynamic Stuttering Therapy works; you already have the underlying abilities.

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