Singing and Humming: Effective Techniques for Stammerers to Improve Fluency


Stuttering, often referred to as stammering, is a speech disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. It can lead to frustration, anxiety, and a sense of helplessness. However, there are various techniques and strategies that can help individuals with stuttering achieve better fluency. One such technique, which may come as a surprise to many, is singing and humming. In this blog, we will explore the reasons behind the effectiveness of these techniques and how they can be harnessed to empower individuals who stammer to communicate more confidently.

Understanding Stuttering

Before we delve into the techniques of singing and humming, let’s briefly understand stuttering. Stuttering is a speech disorder characterized by disruptions in the normal flow of speech. These disruptions can take the form of repetitions, prolongations, or blocks in the speech sounds. Stuttering is often associated with feelings of anxiety, embarrassment, and frustration, making it challenging for those who experience it.

Singing and Stuttering

The connection between singing and stuttering might not be immediately apparent, but it holds a key to improving fluency. Many people who stutter find that they can sing without stuttering. The question is: Why does singing seem to bypass the barriers that stuttering creates?

  • Holding a Tone: When individuals sing, they naturally hold a tone through all their words. This act of holding a tone requires focus on the melody and lyrics, which diverts the mind’s attention from the stuttering itself. The effort exerted to control the tone can lead to the tightening of stomach muscles, providing an additional element of control over speech.
  • Occupied Mind: Singing keeps the mind fully occupied. It’s like a mental juggling act that distracts from the stuttering habit. When the mind is busy following the melody and lyrics, the Stutter-Habit-Chain is effectively blocked, allowing for smoother speech.
  • The Force of the Wind: Singing and humming generate a force of air from the abdomen. This force acts like a conveyor belt, carrying words smoothly from one to the next, much like Ruth Mead’s river analogy. This constant airflow helps overcome the usual interruptions caused by stuttering.
  • Holding a Sound: Holding a sound, even a soft hum, through words requires proper breath control. While controlling one’s breathing is usually discouraged in stuttering therapy, in this particular case, a slight inhale before holding the sound can be beneficial. This inhale should be as natural as the breath taken before singing.

Overcoming Silent Blocking

Silent blocking is a particularly challenging aspect of stuttering, and singing and humming can be powerful tools in addressing it. Silent blocking occurs when a person struggles to produce any sound or words due to the stuttering block. Singing and humming offer a way to break through this silence. By holding a sound softly, similar to singing, individuals can create a “conveyor belt” upon which words can be placed and carried to the next full stop.

The Importance of Short Increments

One of the key strategies for improving fluency in speech is to speak in extremely short increments, often consisting of one to five words. This technique not only feels natural but also elevates speech fluency. It aligns with the principles of “linking words,” as discussed in Crutch 10.

Addressing Resistance to Singing

Many individuals with stuttering have never been singers and may resist the idea of incorporating singing into their speech therapy. They might even consider themselves tone-deaf to some extent. However, the benefits of singing and humming are worth the initial resistance. Therapists often use a gradual approach to help stammerers get used to singing:

  • Identify Music Preferences: Many people with stuttering enjoy music, even if they have never considered themselves singers. Therapists often ask their clients to identify music they enjoy, which is typically a form of pop music native to their culture.
  • Sing Along Endlessly: Speech therapists encourage individuals to play their favorite songs and sing along with them endlessly. This repetition helps build comfort and familiarity with singing.
  • Eliminate the Melody: Gradually, individuals can reduce their reliance on the melody and focus on simply talking the lyrics. Over time, this transition allows them to hum through the lyrics without singing and without stuttering.
  • Facing Embarrassment: Some stammerers may resist the idea of singing during speech therapy, fearing embarrassment. However, it’s important to emphasize that this temporary discomfort is far less daunting than the silence imposed by stuttering. Encouragement from classmates and teachers can also help overcome this resistance, as seen in the example of Artis, who gained the support and appreciation of his peers when he incorporated singing into his speech therapy.
  • Practice Makes Perfect

    Singing and humming are not instant solutions to stuttering but require practice and persistence. Most individuals with silent blocking or other stuttering challenges can significantly improve their fluency by incorporating these techniques into their speech therapy routines. The key is to be open to trying new methods and putting in the effort required for improvement.


    Stuttering can be a challenging speech disorder to overcome, but the techniques of singing and humming offer a unique and effective path toward improved fluency. By holding a tone, keeping the mind occupied, and generating a continuous flow of air, individuals with stuttering can overcome the barriers that impede their speech. Furthermore, singing and humming can help individuals with silent blocking, a particularly challenging aspect of stuttering. It’s important to remember that practice and persistence are key to success, and with dedication, individuals can find their way to fluency and confidence in their communication.

    In summary, while stuttering, or stammering, can be a significant challenge, the power of singing and humming should not be underestimated. These techniques provide a way to break through the barriers that stuttering creates and can lead to improved fluency, enhanced self-confidence, and more effective communication.

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