Last night on American Idol, a young man named Lazaro Arbos was one of the contestants who entered the singing competition. His aptly chosen song was Bridge Over Troubled Water (Simon & Garfunkel), which he sang flawlessly.
Reportedly, this 21-year old Florida resident, originally from Cuba, began stuttering as a child. Last night as he interacted with the 4 judges, it was evident that he continues to struggle with this communication problem. As is typical with many people who stutter, Lazaro was completely fluent when he sang.
The judges seemed stunned by this and Randy Jackson in particular commented on the behavior, wondering why Lazaro seemed to be able to sing with such ease. Several reasons explain this which include:
1. When a person who stutters speaks in a way that is different from his usual speech (e.g. singing) it typically is improved or fluent.
2. When we sing it is distinctly different from speaking because we start with what is known as an easy onset of the voice, we prolong words and we know in advance which words are coming next.
3. Singing and music are a function of the right side of our brain whereas speaking is a function of the left side of our brain.
When you speak with someone who stutters, be patient in letting him express himself. Refrain from suggesting the following: “Slow down,” “Just relax,” or “Take a deep breath.” Also, resist the urge to finish a sentence or insert a word for the person who stutters. This can be very demeaning. Anticipate that a person who stutters will have great difficulty on the phone as well as stating his own name, behaviors many of us take for granted!
Lazaro Arbos is an admirable individual in my opinion. He exhibits courage and perseverance in standing up to a significant communication challenge and not letting it hold him back from his dream.
That takes guts! What do you think?