Sunday, November 16, 2008

Effects of Music Therapy on Stuttering

Effects of Music Therapy on Stuttering
(posted by Michael Bellissimo)

This study is based on the idea that music can affect those that stutter. Stuttering occurs when the person try’s to say one word fast and then stumbles on the next as a result. Also these people are not always aware of the nature of the problem. It should also be noted that stutterers have difficulty in speaking but not in singing because the neural pathway is different. The attempt is then made to reduce the stuttering through music therapy.

· 22 children 14 boys and 8 girls studying in various schools in the age group of 7 to 13 years
· Children have been stuttering and it has been confirmed by the investigator.
· causes for stuttering seems to be varied; such as emotional disturbance, lack of
freedom in expression, inadequate vocabulary, bilingual parents, and contextual etc.

The speech issues may be related to the lack of coordination of certain muscles implying problem with finer control of the tongue. Classical vocal music training helps to coordinate vocal chords and work on fine tongue control. Basic vocal exercises were used (pairs, triple syllables with twist and speed etc.,)
All the participants have stuttering- impaired fluency of reading at the time of training. The socio economic status was equal in the group the children are normal with no other retardation.

Formula used was -Stuttering - Classical Music + Reading = free from stuttering

Music selected on the basis of:
I Easy to recite,
II Does not require any intricate knowledge in music,
III Simple to follow,
IV Easy to train one self and so on.

Simple reading passages were also chosen.

Findings and Conclusions:-
· The effect of Music Therapy was evident in the case of all participants.

· The problem of stuttering was reduced gradually over the weeks on account of exposure to music therapy.

· There was a corresponding increase in the fluency of reading among children with speech fluency as the therapy progressed over the weeks.

· four boys and seven girls showed improvement in reading fluency and speech fluency. Stuttering has been started decreasing from the fourth week onwards. But for one girl stuttering disappeared on the tenth day of the sessions and reading fluency improved gradually.

· Except for two children the speech fluency increased from the seventh week for other participants.

· These two children also gained fluency in speech by ninth week needed further exposure to therapy sessions.

· These findings suggest that there are individual differences with regard to the improvement gained as a result of music therapy.

· Children were also given a word of confidence and assured, having overcome the problem of stuttering, they need not feel inferior in their class anymore, with regular practice the speech fluency will also increase.

· Further participation in the group developed group cohesiveness and involvement in training.


Although I would have liked to see a study that uses only music therapy and does not use reading as well, this small study is still very positive. However what is the positive may be simple but not evident to the “nay sayers” who don’t see music therapy as viable. First and foremost the positive in this case is that the children were helped. They “need not feel inferior” is the real success here. However music therapy also plays an obvious successful role. Its sound methodology discovered this result that can now be expanded.

We must also ask ourselves that is the case of stuttering since those affected don’t stutter when they sing because the neural pathway is different from that of speech why is it that speech therapy does not help singing but singing does help speech? Music has healing powers that we are beginning to tap into. Music therapy use physical, emotional, mental, social, aesthetic, and spiritual aspects to help clients, a more holistic approach without the drugs.

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