Music Therapy Session on Decreasing Stuttering

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For this week’s post I’d like to describe a music therapy session… I’d like to preface this by saying: just because something is not uncommon it doesn’t mean it can’t be amazing.

Yesterday, on our pediatric unit, I visited with a 12yr old girl and her father. She was admitted for seizures and undergoing EEG (brain wave) monitoring. That initially interested me because doctors on our unit and myself are collecting data from these neurology patients, looking at music therapy’s effect on brain function. The other thing that really interested me was because of her seizure condition she now stutters, quite bad. She could not put two words together without stuttering. I told her that singing is a wonderful way to have success with word organization and that it’s also great therapy for a few reasons. First, it lets you vocalize without stuttering and second, if a song is 5 minutes long and you can sing it without stuttering that’s 5 minutes you can organize words and vocalize without the stress and anxiety of stuttering (as when you’re talking).

With guitar in hand and ready to go I starting with “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana. When I started singing it she immediately knew the song and joined in. As soon as she began to sing tears came to her eyes and a big smile came to her face as she realized she was not stuttering. It was amazing to see her realize this! We went on to sing many other songs together during the session.

I have seen this before in my music therapy work, there have been some famous singers who stutter but sing beautifully. Mel Tillis was a famous country music star with a stuttering condition. These days my wife follows a current Christian artist who who stutters but sings beautifully. So singing without stuttering is not uncommon.

Remember? That’s what I said at the beginning of this piece, i.e., just because something is not uncommon it doesn’t mean it can’t be amazing. Other examples of this off the top of my head… of course it is common for babies to be born. Did you ever see the reactions of the mom and dad holding their first child after the moment of birth? The excitement, love and amazement are off the charts! Same with a young child who has been wanting a puppy for a long time. Again, the excitement, love and amazement of that child holding and playing with their new puppy is joyous to watch. As I said, singing without stuttering is not uncommon but seeing my patient’s reaction was priceless and I’m sure it was so exciting for her to experience, for her and her family. And, it gave her success and something pro active to do on her own, something she loves to do.

After we sang many songs with me playing guitar live, she found a Dixie Chics song she really likes. Above, watch her sing!

So music therapists, if you’ve never sang with patients who stutter, don’t hesitate. And remember, just because something is not uncommon it doesn’t mean it can’t be amazing!!

Look for more information about many useful music therapy techniques at