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Benefits of semi-occluded vocal exercises

Most vocalists, sometime in their careers, suffer from tense or damaged vocal cords. Although we have always used semi-occluded vocal exercises in our repertoire (the classic me-me-me is one), recent developments in vocal science have given us so many more! My voice recently came under severe abuse due to a brutal bronchitis. I have used the following exercises to great benefit in working to recover from it, and these have been so helpful!

1. Singing through a straw! Yes, just a common straw. I suggest starting with the slightly wider one than you get with those little juice boxes, and go to the smaller one later. Put the straw in your mouth and begin on just one note in an easy speaking range. Hold for about ten seconds if you can, then move one half step up and repeat.  Stay in an easy range. Then you can go on to gliding pitches. Slide up and down a third at first, and if that is easy, go on to larger intervals. If you hear little vocal “chinks,” stay in your easiest range.

2.  Singing through a straw in a bottle of water. For me this one has been the absolute best. It eases tension and allows you to feel how your breath apparatus is working. Take a bottle of water that is nearly full and stick one in of the straw in the water. This is like when you were a child except you are adding a tone to it.  Sing a single pitch into the straw.  The soothing back moisture on your vocal tract feels great and can reset your voice from tense to relaxed. You can use the same exercise as above.

With both of these, make sure you aren’t allowing any air to escape from your nose or the sides of your mouth!  Happy singing!

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