Easy Onset for Voice Therapy and Stuttering

Easy onset is an evidence-based strategy for treating stuttering and vocal dysfunction. 

In this article, you’ll learn how to do easy onset with your adult speech therapy patients, including:

  • How to use easy onsets to treat stuttering
  • How to use them in voice therapy
  • Word lists and sentence lists

Plus, watch a video tutorial by a speech-language pathologist.

Let’s jump in!

how to do easy onsets

What Is The Easy Onset Strategy?

what is easy onset

Easy onset speech is the slow initiation of vocal fold vibration (Max & Caruso, 1997). It’s also known as ‘gentle onset.’

To do easy onset, teach your patient to first exhale and then gradually turn on their vocal folds. This reduces the vocal tension that can contribute to stuttering and vocal dysfunction.

Start with easy onset vowels and words then move on to using the strategy with longer phrases and sentences. You’ll find word and sentence lists below!

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Easy Onset For Stuttering

easy onset for stuttering

Easy onset is an effective way to improve fluency.

A systematic review of developmental stuttering found that prolonged speech treatments, like the easy onset, can improve stuttering symptoms in adults (Bothe, 2006).

When using easy onset for stuttering, the goal is to gradually turn on the vocal folds after exhaling, avoiding vocal tension and hard contacts.

How to do easy onsets for stuttering:

  1. Exhale (as if sighing) on a prolonged /h/ sound: “hhhhhh.”
  2. Practice this a few times.
  3. Exhale on /h/, then slowly turn on your voice with a vowel: “hhhaaaa, hhhhhee, hhhhiii.”
  4. Repeat step 3 with more vowel sounds.  
  5. Once successful with vowel sounds, practice easy onsets with words that start with a vowel (word list below).
    • Remember the prolonged /h/ before the word. For example:
    • ‘And’ becomes ‘hhhhhaaand’
  6. Once successful with words, practice easy onsets with phrases.
    • Remember the prolonged /h/ before each phrase. For example:
    • ‘I don’t know’ becomes, ‘Hhhhhhi don’t know.’
  7. Once successful with phrases, practice with gradually longer utterances.

To encourage generalization to daily life, practice frequently-said utterances.

You can practice easy onsets in-session, while role-playing, and even by getting out into the real world (phone calls, the cafeteria)!

See 23 Stuttering Activities for Adults for more treatment ideas.

Easy Onset For Voice Therapy

easy onset for voice

Easy onsets decrease vocal tension by minimizing hard glottal attacks (slamming together of the vocal folds) during speech (De Vore & Cookman, 2009).  

They’re done in the same way for voice therapy as they are for stuttering (see the guide above).

Ask patients with voice disorders to focus on the prolonged /h/ during exhalation, followed by a soft start of their voice on vowel sounds.

Then progress to the word level, phrase level, and so on, with the ultimate goal of using easy onsets often when speaking.

Learn more about how to decrease vocal tension.

Easy Onset Example: Video

Watch a speech-language pathologist demonstrate how to do easy onsets. Bookmark this page for future use and share the video with patients, when appropriate.

See the Fluency and Voice playlists on the Adult Speech Therapy YouTube channel for more how-to videos.

Is Easy Onset Only For Vowels?

easy onset vowels


Easy onsets help people speak more easily and gently and can be used with all initial sounds that aren’t plosives. This means any sound that doesn’t begin with the /p, b, d, t, k, g/ sounds.

To decrease tension when saying plosives, practice light articulatory contacts.

This strategy reduces tension by teaching patients how to lightly move their tongue and lips when speaking.

Easy Onset Word List

easy onset word lists
  • and
  • app
  • apple
  • after
  • always
  • end
  • egg
  • it
  • in
  • on
  • open
  • under
  • undo
  • until

See Word Lists for Adults for more ideas.

Or visit our shop for print-and-go materials.

Easy Onset Sentences

easy onset sentences

Is it time for lunch?

Are you hurt?

I’ll see you later.

Is it cold outside?

It’s almost time to go.

Aunt Sally is arriving soon.

I am tired today.

Uncle Bill is 78 years old.

Easy Onset PDF

Visit our shop for an easy onset PDF word list—plus hundreds of worksheets and handouts made for speech therapy patients.

voice therapy pdf
fluency PDF


  • Bothe, A. K., Davidow, J. H., Bramlett, R. E., & Ingham, R. J. (2006). Stuttering Treatment Research 1970–2005: I. Systematic Review Incorporating Trial Quality Assessment of Behavioral, Cognitive, and Related Approaches. https://doi.org/10580360001500040321
  • ​Max, L. & Caruso, A. J. (1997). Contemporary techniques for establishing fluency in the treatment of adults who stutter. ​Contemporary Issues in Communication Science and Disorders, 24, 45-52
  • Andreeva, A. (2010) Easy voice onset and relaxation techniques in therapy of voice disorders. Conference Paper: Bulgarian National Association of Logopedics. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/303519488_Easy_voice_onset_and_relaxation_techniques_in_therapy_of_voice_disorders
  • DeVore, K., & Cookman, S. (2020). The Voice Book: Caring For, Protecting, and Improving Your Voice. Chicago Review Press.
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