Speech Therapy Assists in Preparation for Bar Mitzvah

I would like to share my appreciation for the skill and knowledge of Speech Language Pathologists.

A friend’s son, Robert (name altered for discretion), prepared for his Bar Mitzvah and was willing to recite the Haftarah in front of me. The Haftarah is a series of selections from the Hebrew Bible that is publicly read in synagogue as part of the Jewish religious practice at age 13.  Robert is a shy boy whose voice was low, monotonous and not clear when reciting the Haftarah.  He received critiques from his family members but they did not know how to guide him.  I advised them to schedule one session with a Speech Therapist however they were not receptive of the idea. I decided to take a less direct approach and asked several SLP in our company to give me advice so I could forward it to Robert.

Daphna SLP Wrote:

My name is Daphna. I am a speech therapist who works for Prime Rehabilitation Services. We just were discussing some ways to help you speak more clearly for your Bar Mitzvah. First, it is important to open your mouth wide while you speak because you require resonance, or the echoing of sound in your mouth and nose, to help project the voice. Try stretching your jaw, up and down, left and right, before you are ready to speak. You can practice your loudness by using a sound meter app (free app) on your phone. Start measuring your loudness at 3 ft. distance and you should aim for 65 decibels. When that becomes easy, move back to 5 ft. then 10 ft. and so on, always striving to reach 65 decibels.

Amy SLP wrote: 

My name is Amy.  I would advise before you begin speaking to take several deep, “belly” breaths. This is to relax you and is also important for maximizing volume of voice. Also, you can practice taking a deep breath and saying “ah”- as loud as you can, until you run out of air. Repeat this about 10x as an exercise. The key is deep breathing from the diaphragm for volume and power! You can also search “voice therapy” on the internet and dozens of free sessions come up on YouTube by different therapists. Choose any one that interests you! Good luck!

Kristi SLP wrote:

Dear Robert:

Video record yourself speaking. Make sure you are taking deep breaths and pronounce each word clearly and slowly. As you will be speaking in front of an audience over pronounce your words and pause for comas and periods. If you get nervous, try wiggling your toes to direct the nervous energy there. Listen to your recording and evaluate yourself.  This is what everyone will hear. We hear ourselves differently than others because when we talk we hear our own voice through the bone while everyone else hears through the air. Confidence is key! Practice, practice, practice! The better you know your speech, the better it will transmit to others.

Priya SLP wrote:

The suggestions that I had for Robert were to open his mouth when speaking to improve the articulation of the sounds. Enunciate sounds clearly and use the diaphragm (not chest) to speak which will assist with coordination of breathing and speech and increase vocal intensity/projection.  Focus on mouth resonance with forward placement. You should feel vibration on your throat vs face. This also helps with clarity and projection and is usually recommended to a singer however is also applicable when speaking in public / Bar Mitzvah.

Throughout my career as a PT, I have witnessed some amazing progress and results in patients’ abilities to communicate their needs due to speech therapy intervention. These speech therapists, mentioned above, were presented with the same information however they all responded with differing treatment techniques and ideas!

Therapists realize patients require a “personalized” treatment plan – an approach that works well with Patient A may not work for Patients B or C.   Consulting co-workers vastly increases outcomes as it allows the therapist to employ diverse treatment concepts.

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