International Stuttering Awareness Day and Singing

Today is International Stuttering Awareness Day.

Famous stutterers include:

  • Marilyn Monroe, actor
  • James Earl Jones, actor
  • Mel Tillis, country singer
  • Samuel L. Jackson, actor
  • Bruce Willis, actor
  • Nicole Kidman, actor
  • Emily Blunt, actor
  • Chris Martin, singer
  • Carly Simon, singer
  • Lazaro Arbos, singer/American Idol finalist
  • Joe Biden, presidential candidate (interesting that, as of this writing, there is a debate scheduled for tonight)

Singing has long been considered a viable therapy for stuttering. There are people who do not stutter at all when they sing. Why is this?

As much as we want singing to seem conversational, particularly in musical theater, the fact is that it does have elements that are not found in actual conversation:

  1. Intonation
  2. Rhythm
  3. Sostenuto / duration
  4. Breath management
  5. Continuity of text and pitches – even though our goal is to make our songs seem like spontaneous responses to a stimulus (“I’m in love with a wonderful guy,” “Du bist die Ruh,” “O mio babbino caro”), the fact is that there are words and music on a page that stay the same, unlike a back-and-forth conversation.
  6. Memorization – and this would be something that would be involved in making a speech as well. I particularly liked this article for the idea of how Winston Churchill memorized his speeches – it gives another meaning to the phrase, “I know this backwards and forwards.”

Speech language pathology is a subject that is fascinating to me. I think that, if I hadn’t become a singer/singing teacher, I’d be very happy to be an SLP with an emphasis on becoming a singing voice specialist (that’s a thing!). It is so fascinating to me to see how the brain processes singing and speech. Take a look at this graphic.

If you want to know more about the topic, you can learn more about stuttering and singing therapy here.

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contact me for a Vocal Discovery Session!

Published by Mezzoid Voice Studio

Christine Thomas-O'Meally, a mezzo soprano and voice teacher currently based in the Baltimore-DC area, has performed everything from the motets of J.S. Bach to the melodies of Irving Berlin to the minimalism of Philip Glass. As an opera singer and actress, she has appeared with companies such as Charm City Players, Spotlighters Theatre, Chicago Opera Theater, Opera Theater of Northern Virginia, Opera North, the Washington Savoyards, In Tandem Theatre, Windfall Theater, The Young Victorian Theater of Baltimore, and Skylight Opera Theatre. She created the role of The Woman in Red in Dominick Argento’s Dream of Valentino in its world premiere with the Washington Opera and Mary Pickersgill in O'er the Ramparts at its world premiere during the Bicentennial of Battle of Baltimore at the Community College of Baltimore County. Other roles include Mrs. Paroo in Music Man, Mother Abbess in Sound of Music, Dorabella in Cosi Fan Tutte, Marcellina in Le Nozze di Figaro, both Hansel and the Witch in Hansel & Gretel, and many roles in Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. Her performance as the Housekeeper in Man of La Mancha was honored with a WATCH award nomination. Ms. Thomas-O'Meally received an M.M. in vocal performance from the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. She regularly attends master classes and workshops in both performance and vocal pedagogy, and is certified in all three Levels of Somatic Voicework™ The LoVetri Method. Her students have performed on national and international tours of Broadway productions, at prestigious conservatories, and in regional theater throughout the country.

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