American Idol contestant Lazaro Arbos overcomes stutter - Dallas News |

American Idol contestant Lazaro Arbos overcomes stutter


How did he do that?  Lazro Arbos took the stage during Week 1 of the American Idol auditions and wowed the judges despite having a severe stutter.  Born in Cuba and raised in Florida, Lazro has lived with his stutter since a young age. But when he took to the stage it just went away.

It turns out Lazro is not alone. Singer-songwriter Carly Simon began stuttering severely when she was 8 years old. A psychiatrist tried unsuccessfully to cure her stuttering.  Instead, Simon turned to singing and songwriting. "I felt so strangulated talking that I did the natural thing, which is to write songs, because I could sing without stammering, as all stammerers can," she said.

Country music entertainer Mel Tillies was laughed at as a child because he stuttered. He said to himself, "Well, if they're gonna laugh at me, then I'll give them something to laugh about." Word began to circulate around Nashville about the young singer from Florida who could write songs and sing, but stuttered like hell when he tried to talk. "The next thing I knew I was being asked to be on every major television show in America," he said. Tillis' career took off.

So how can someone who has such a difficult time talking can sing without missing a beat?  The answer turns out to be not all that complicated.

The following is from the Stuttering Project at the University of Iowa:

There are a few reasons why people who stutter don't do so when they sing. One is called easy onset of speech, or easy voice, or smooth speech. This describes the way you sing. Think about it - you generally use a smoother and easier voice when you're singing versus when you're speaking. Speech therapists actually use the easy onset strategy when helping people who stutter.

Another reason why a person may not stutter while singing is because words are more prolonged (and less apt to be stumbled over) when they're sung rather than spoken. Music is an activity in which you use the right side of the brain (language uses the left), so when you sing music, you're no longer using your left brain (and probably no longer stuttering).

The bottom line is this: Whenever a child or adult who stutters talks differently than the way he usually does, he will be fluent. That includes using a stage voice or a foreign accent or dialect, whispering, singing, speaking to a rhythmic beat, using ‘baby talk' and speaking at a lower or higher pitch than normal. Besides sounding and feeling unnatural, however, these ‘tricks' rarely produce long-term fluency.

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