Orchestral Speech

Reading to other people using Orchestral Speech

Most people who stammer don’t stammer much when reading to themselves, so it is usually not until there is someone else present that the technique is really put to the test. So, as soon as you have practiced Orchestral Speech enough alone and have developed a feeling for what it entails, it is time to start practicing using it with other people present. You can read from the “moving bold” texts I provided on the previous page if you like, or if you prefer, you can start straight off with reading from a book—a phrase at a time, with good sized pauses between phrases. And, of course, remember to keep moving forward and to speak each phrase as though it flows as a single unit.

Best is to start reading to a friend. Before starting, explain to them what you are doing and why. And, in particular, explain to them that you are focusing on maintaining the forward flow and so may miss out some words in order to do so.

You may find that you can read to this friend just as easily as you can read to yourself. If not, then try first of all just silently mouthing the words that are reading.  Then, after silently mouthing the words for a few minutes, start then to whisper, very gently and quietly for a few minutes, and then after a few more minutes, when you feel comfortable with that, allow yourself to whisper a bit more strongly for a few minutes.

If you now find that it is starting to become harder to get the words out and that they are no longer flowing, don’t be tempted to slow down (or speed up) simply go back to silent mouthing for a few more minutes before starting to whisper gently, and then finally add voicing again.

Once you find you are able to whisper relatively strongly without it provoking feelings of tightness and difficulty, start to gently introduce some quiet voicing into your phrases.

If having started to use your voice, you find things tightening up and the stammer returning, go back to whispering again… and if necessary, go right back to silent mouthing again. Then gradually work up through these stages again… and again and again if necessary, until you are able to read aloud with a full voice.

Keep reminding yourself of all the advice I have given in the previous webpage (reading aloud alone). In particular…

  • Imagine you’re speaking in a chorus and have to keep in time with the other speakers.
  • Don’t worry if some words come out wrong, or if you have to miss a word or two to keep up.
  • If you find yourself getting stuck on a word, just abandon it and carry on with the next word that you are able to say gently and fluently.
  • If you find that your speech muscles are starting to stiffen up, go back to silently mouthing or whispering for a while.

And finally…. Don’t be tempted to read for too long. Limit yourself to about 15 minutes during any one session, and break the 15 minutes up into three or four attempts. You can do two or three 15 minute sessions spaced out throughout day. That’s enough. You won’t make faster progress by doing more or longer sessions. Indeed, it is counter-productive to do more than that. Even though we may not be consciously aware of it happening, our brains will continue to process and integrate the experience from each session after we have finished the session. The process of integration takes time and can’t be rushed.

Continue to practice in this way for a few days or weeks—ideally reading to a variety of different people who understand what you are doing – until you feel confident that you can read smoothly and gently to in this way without provoking the fear of stammering. You may still block a little while reading, and that’s OK, its not a problem. The important thing is, when you do, you should feel confident that you can let go of the word you are blocking on and immediately re-start with one of the words that follows.

When you feel sufficiently confident that you can read aloud to other people without provoking the fear of stammering, it is time to start experimenting with using Orchestral Speech to communicate with people who don’t know that you are using it.

Preparing Talks and Speeches

A really good way of consolidating your ability to use Orchestral Speech is to prepare one or more talks or speeches and then film yourself as you read them out. Choose any topic that interests you, and write the speech out in full. Then, turn on the video recording and deliver the talk—using Orchestral Speech. You can use your mobile phone (WhatsApp has both video messaging and voice messaging options that you can use to record yourself), or if you have a modern version of PowerPoint on your computer, you can use that. Then, having recorded it, play it back and see how it sounds. Remember—the important thing is that you are breaking your speech up into small phrases (of not more than about five or six words); that you speak each phrase as a single unit that flows from beginning to end; and that you leave reasonable pauses between the phrases. Don’t worry about your speech errors. When words come out differently to intended, that’s good! – because it provides an opportunity to practice keeping going regardless.

If you belong to an online stammering support group (there many such groups on Facebook) keep in mind the possibility that you can post some of your videos for others to watch. Doing so, makes the whole experience all the more real.

Giving Talks and Speeches to audiences in real-life situations

Orchestral Speech is excellent for giving talks and speeches. I regularly used it to get me through the talks and lectures I had to give at university, and I found it especially useful insofar as it enabled me to be sure of getting to the end of my talks without any risk of running out of time. It is, however, absolutely vital that before using Orchestral Speech in such real-life situations, you already have enough practical experience of practicing using it with friends and with other PWS. Before attempting it in real-life situations, you need to have already arrived at the point where you are confident that you can employ it successfully without having to think too much about what you are doing

Having got this far, the next step is to learn to use Orchestral Speech in conversational settings.

Orchestral Speech