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The Benefits of SOVT Exercises to Heal Your Voice and Reset Your Vocal Mechanism

People will sometimes come to me with vocal issues relating to vocal overuse. Sometimes it is overuse is from singing loudly, speaking in loud acoustics, or sometimes just not knowing how to sing correctly. Besides breathing exercises, the first thing I teach new students is the benefits of SOVT.

What are some SOVT Exercises?

Humming, buzzing, lip trills and tongue trills are forms of SOVT. SOVT is short for semi occluded vocal tract. An open vocal tract is simply when the sound comes directly out of h the mouth like when you say the vowel AHH and is unobstructed by the lips or teeth. A semi occluded vocal tract occurs when your lips or teeth come together to shape the sound. The airflow is semi closed to make the sound such as in M, N, Z, V. Vowels like Ooo and Ohh are also semi occluded. A fully closeed vocal tract is when your mouth is completely closed and the only thing that’s open is your nasal passage for breathing.

How do SOVT Exercises Work?

SOVT exercises release the pressure that is coming from the lungs. Some airflow is blocked from exiting the mouth because the lips and teeth are in the way. Therefore, the airflow pulls backward toward the vocal cords. SOVT exercises have less impact and pressure on the vocal folds and allow them to stretch into a balanced position. It is the back pressure of the air that relieves the stress on the vocal folds. The more back pressure in the vocal track the less energy you need from the vocal folds. Thus you are singing more efficiently and will fatigue less. Another SOVT exercise I do with students is called straw phonation.

What is Straw Phonation?

Straw phonation is humming through a straw while your mouth is closed. Straw phonation narrows the opening so air has more difficulty escaping and creates back pressure to release the tension of the vocal tract. This exercise is wonderful after vocal fatigue or injury. Straw phonation is also great for breath control and teaches an efficient way to improve vocal resonance.

How to Practice SOVT Exercises:

You should practice 15 minutes a day on SOVT exercises to improve your voice,Start off using a large Boba straw. You can use different size straws and different thicknesses as well as more than one straw but start off using this large straw. The straws are supposed to mimic the vocal tract. To get the most amount of pressure through the straw make sure that no air is escaping around your lips or your nose. You can begin humming up and down, sliding your voice up and down. Once you feel the back pressure then use that M to start the vowel OO. Then open your vowels to OH, AH, AY and EE. Then you can remove the straw and work with vowels preceded by an M, N, V or Z , keeping them buzzing in the front of your mouth. You now have begun each vowel with a semi occluded vocal tract which then opens to an unobstructed vocal tract with the vowel.

What Teachers Should You Look for?

I always warn students not to try to learn to sing using YouTube or other pre-recorded videos because your voice your own personal instrument. Everyone has a unique voice and a unique way of learning the concepts necessary to sing correctly and healthily. If you learn something incorrectly, it’s really difficult to break that habit without a lot of work. Please choose a voice instructor or vocal coach who is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing to ensure you are learning to sing healtily. There are no board certifications for voice teachers to pass and my experience through the years have shown many vocal “professionals’ have taken one or two courses in music. You wouldn’t trust your dentist with one or two classes in dentistry would you? Remember that your voice is part of your human body and you only have two vocal cords. They don’t regrow like sharks teeth, and when they’re injured, you have some serious voice issues to face with a Laryngologist and voice therapists. Voices cannot heal themselves so you should start out carefully selecting the voice specialist that will help you protect that precious instrument.

straws for straw phonation

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