Stuttering, Scanning, And Writing Music

Growing up I had a horrible stutter. It was so bad I asked doctors, read books, and even took private speech lessons. But nothing worked. For years I was teased, upset, and worn thin on just trying to speak a simple sentence or word.

Then one day I learned of this idea called “Scanning” and it changed everything for me. Let me explain it - because I’m fascinated by it.

"Scanning" is this idea of constantly scanning in your head for alternate words to substitute ones that you would have stuttered on. If I felt my throat lock up on the word "tabletop" I would quickly substitute it for "the top of the table". Or if "book" was a threat, I would quickly say "novel" instead. After practicing it for years, it’s cured my problem, and (I think) made me a better composer.

One trick with stuttering is to sing. When you sing music lyrics or change the inflection in your voice and timbre, then your throat unlocks itself. So maybe that helped with my music at a young age, too? Who knows.

Let’s take a sentence: “The cat landed on a box”

In the old days I would say “The c-c-c-cat land, land, ed on a… a… box”

With scanning I would say “The tiny cat landed right on top of the box”

It’s the same sentence (though slightly messier), but at least now with those added words I was able to “hide” the words I would have stuttered on.

Each year I got better and better at scanning. In fact, it got to the point where I scanned so fast that I didn’t even realize I was doing it.

Overcoming stuttering has certainly made me more confident and happier, but I also think its made me a better composer because writing music is completely parallel to writing a sentence. If a music note sounds wrong then I quickly know how to substitute it. If I’m in a tough situation at work, I quickly know how to stop, analyze the situation, and solve it.

I still stutter or stammer every so often, but nothing comes close to how bad it used to be. I’ve learned that sometimes when you can’t eradicate a problem, you can usually work with it.

  1. thearabian-guardian-of-fun said: not to sound sarcastic or anything but to me I find stuttering to be cute in a way ^_^
  2. ceramicsquid said: As an amateur singer with a stammer, this is quite helpful!
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