Communication Disorders

Why Singing Exercises Can Reduce Stuttering Frequency

close-up of woman singing in bar into microphone

Last Updated on

May 1st, 2024 06:01 pm

If you’re a person who stutters, then you know how frustrating it can be to get stuck on the same words again and again. While there are many factors that may cause a stuttering attack, one of the more common triggers is an impulse to repeat words or syllables over and over again.

Stuttering is incredibly common across the world and affects as many as one in every twenty-five people at some point during their lives. In some cases, it rarely affects the person’s ability to communicate, but many seek help from a speech therapist.

Many people are able or willing to talk through their anxieties or concerns but for others, speaking is simply too difficult and overwhelming. For those who do experience difficulty with speech, there are things that you can do to cope and reduce its effects on your life, one of which is singing!

What is Stuttering?

Stuttering is a verbal condition that affects how people speak. It’s the experience of repeating sounds, words, syllables or sentences over and over again. In order for a stutterer to speak fluently, they must have time to prepare their speech before opening their mouth (talk-up).

During these preparations, the brain gains control over the motor functions so that when the speaker opens their mouth to say a word or sentence, it can be said smoothly and with fluency. When someone has had a severe stutter, it can affect more than just speaking –it can extend into other important areas of life like schoolwork and social interactions.

Stuttering is caused by something that goes wrong in the brain, but depending on the person, this can happen in different areas of the brain. For example, some people stutter due to heightened levels of anxiety. For others, it can be down to a language disorder from birth, or a brain injury from an accident or a stroke such as in non-fluent Aphasia.

One of the most common causes is an over-reaction to a sensory experience or emotion. For example, if someone who stutters hears a sound that makes them very happy, and they stutter as they say it, it may be because of how their brain interprets the result.

This over-reaction may cause people who stutter to become anxious when they are with others or speaking certain words or phrases. The anxiousness can contribute to the stuttering symptoms, which can make many people who stutter feel uncomfortable in social situations.

young girl frustrated with pursed lips and hair in pigtails

Stuttering is frustrating for children and can cause social anxiety if left untreated

What Happens in the Brain When Someone is Stuttering?

Researchers at the University of Iowa have conducted a study where they compared people who stutter and those who don’t. They found that singing occurs in a different part of the brain than speaking.

The researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technology to scan participants’ brains and record dependent measures, performing tasks such as reading sentences aloud, naming objects, and attempting to sing well-known songs from memory.

The findings showed that when people sang, they didn’t activate the same areas of the brain as when they read a sentence or named an object. Instead, the singing task activated another area of the brain called Broca’s area, which handles language production and comprehension.

speech and language therapy session with young girl and therapist in red jacket

Singing can be a great addition to any speech and language therapy program


Why Does Singing Help a Stutter?

When you sing, you work on many aspects of your speech. Singing requires breath control, and it also helps build your vocal range. If you’re a person who stutters, singing is the perfect way to build up the confidence to speak without stuttering.

Singing also offers people of all ages the chance to practice breathing exercises and rhythmic patterns that will help them avoid or reduce the effects of stuttering.

One final reason why singing can help with stuttering is that the therapeutic effects of singing can relieve anxiety and stress. People who undergo voice training in some forms see a reduction during singing of not only the frequency of a stutter, but also anxiety level as a result.

Stutterers who sing or have vocal training often claim that their experiences are much more enjoyable when they are able to focus on their music rather than worrying about their speech or the anxiety that comes from speaking in public.

The Benefits of Singing to Music

The best way to relieve speech impediments such as stuttering is through singing. Singing requires you to use your voice differently. When you sing you need to take in air without obstructing your vocal cords with your lips (tongue muscle tension). Some of the most common ways people relieve their stuttering are singing along to songs or using prompts such as “red” or “apple” when they struggle with repetition during conversation.

In a study published in the International Journal of Speech Language and Hearing Research  by Healy, Mallard, and Adams (1976), researchers discovered that singing can help the brain to process and handle stuttering more efficiently. Specifically, according to this study, when one is singing, there are two factors that can affect stuttering:

1) The increased activity in the left brain hemisphere which helps with processing sounds.

2) The increased activity in the right brain hemisphere which helps with speech production.

Singing actually acts as an effective distraction for those who stutter since it prevents them from getting stuck on words and phrases. This distraction allows one to focus on their breathing and other tasks without fear of repeating themselves.

Music also releases endorphins which can significantly reduce stress levels and cause positive physiological effects on the brain such as allowing an increase in phonation duration (utterance durations) and airflow.

Singing woman in bar

Singing is proven to help reduce stuttering

Singing Therapy Goes Beyond Stuttering

Singing can be a great way to reduce the symptoms of a speech issue such as stuttering. It’s also a great way to use your voice and get in touch with your emotions. It can also help you with your speech, learning new vocal skills and music brain training.

Not only that, but music therapy in general is known to offer many therapeutic benefits to everyone’s mental health. So even if you don’t have a stutter, there’s no reason you shouldn’t use singing to help you through the tough times in life!

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Rob Butler
30-Something Millennial with ADHD and suspected Autistic and Dyspraxic. Thought leader behind this website. Big visions of a better future for everyone, but forgets where he is half the time.Loves Rugby, his kids, and anything silly. Hates U2 and Marmite.

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