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Singing Helps Dallas Boy Overcome Stuttering

Jack Vangordon has been performing with the Dallas Symphony Children's Chorus for four years, despite struggles with stuttering. (credit: KTVT/KTXA)

Jack Vangordon has been performing with the Dallas Symphony Children’s Chorus for four years, despite struggles with stuttering. (credit: KTVT/KTXA)

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Some of the most talented young voices in the area are filling the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas on Tuesday night at the Christmas Celebration concert. It is not only a popular tradition, but it is also a powerful platform for almost-13-year-old Jack VanGordon, who uses this opportunity to help overcome a major obstacle in his life.

For as long as VanGordon can remember, he has loved to sing. The golden-voiced boy said that, of the four kids in his family, he is the only artistic one. “They’re all athletic and I’m the only one who is artistic,” he said. And he is also the only one of his siblings who does something else.

“Ever since I was little, I stuttered,” VanGordon said. “It’s when I get really excited about stuff. But I don’t let it hold me back from what I want to do.”

Identified as a stutterer before preschool, the Plano seventh-grader started speech therapy in elementary school, learning strategies to deal with the struggle. “It’s embarrassing,” VanGordon said. “I’m not going to deny that. But I am who I am, and nobody can change me.”

Singing seems to have served as VanGordon’s greatest source of relief. “I love singing the most because I never stutter when I sing,” the boy said. “If one day I’m stuttering a lot, I can go up in my room and not have any disfluency.”

According to speech therapist Tricia Krauss-Lehrman, that is common for stutterers. “Speech is handled on the left side of the brain; music is on the righthand. So, when an individual is singing, the actual pathways being used are different,” she said.

But Krauss-Lehrman admits that there is little else common about VanGordon. “He’s just one of those kids. I feel like I’ll keep up with him forever,” she said. “Wanting to watch and follow his career, whatever it may be.”

So, as VanGordon performs in his fourth year with the Dallas Symphony Children’s Chorus, and his second year as a soloist, his parents continue to marvel at their youngest child’s very grown-up decision. “He had a choice,” said mother Jill VanGordon. “He could not say anything, to recluse or not be social, certainly not sing a solo at the Meyerson. But, he’s made a different decision. This is who he is, part of who he is, and it makes me so proud!”

The Christmas Celebration concert with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra runs through December 19 at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas. Click here to purchase tickets to the show.