OVER THE PAST TEN YEARS John Nix and I have been describing vocal exercises that utilize phonation into a straw.1 These exercises are part of a bigger picture of training vocal fold adduction, registration, and epilarynx tube narrowing for the best acoustic power transfer from the glottis to the lips. Use of a thin straw is not the only way to facilitate this power transfer, but a semi-occlusion at the mouth is a requirement. Lip trills, nasals, / u / and / o / vowels, bilabial fricatives, and other semi-occlusions can all be used to meet the objective. 2
Given that phonation into a thin straw is the latest in a century-old tradition of using resonance tubes (with and without dipping the end of the tube into water), and given that some basic acoustic and aerodynamic science has been used to explain the therapeutic effects, I would like to make the Journal of Singing readership aware of YouTube videos that have been produced for an introduction to this technique. The full text is given below:
For those of you who speak several hours a day and your voice gets tired, here's a tip to keep you talking. You need to stretch and un-press your vocal folds (vocal cords) often. To accomplish this, you can vocalize into a thin straw (like a stirring straw) several times a day for 2-5 minutes.
Here is a regimen you can follow. First do a pitch glide, from as low as you can to as high as you can [demonstration] . After a few repetitions, try to build progressively larger hills with the pitch and loudness of your voice [demonstration]. We call these hills accents. After you have practiced the accents for a minute or two and you have a little extra time, vocalize your favorite song through the straw. I will choose the National Anthem because it has lots of ups and downs in pitch. It also gives me a chance to do some note-to-note accents [demonstration].
It is important that no air escapes around the straw between your lips, and that no air escapes through your nose. If you pinch your nose, the sound should not change [demonstration]. And, all your accents should be belly accents, not throat accents [demonstration].
After you have practiced these exercises for 2-5 minutes and you return to natural speech, you will find that your voice seems to be coming out of your eyes instead of your throat. This is an important sensation that you should always remember and try to maintain in your speech. We call it a high placement of the voice. If after a long time of talking your placement begins to drop and gravitate to your throat, and your voice becomes pressed, take the first opportunity to reset your voice with the straw.
Give it a try. I think you will like it. If you have further questions or vocal problems, contact a speech-language pathologist specializing in voice. We call this specialty vocology. You can also contact the National Center for Voice and Speech (www.ncvs.org) for further information.3
I am always quick to point out that semi-occluded vocal tract techniques are not my invention. …