Straw Phonation: What's all the hype about?

What’s the solution for tired voices?  One would think vocal rest is priority.  But now more than ever, research shows that in addition to taking inventory of voice use and making technique changes, vocal rehab exercises can help ‘reset' your voice and bring your instrument back to life.  Semi-occluded vocal tract exercises have been a proven and effective way to not only warm-up and ‘stretch’ the voice, but to also release tension and help restore the voice after fatigue or injury

Lip trills, tongue trills, vocalizing on “mm” or “ng” consonants are all semi-occluded, meaning half-closed. But one of the more popular SOVT tools is straw phonation.

So, what's with the straw?

Due to the narrow or partially closed opening of the mouth, the back of the instrument is ‘open’ into a convergent shape.  Think of an inverted megaphone. This partially closed shape allows the vocal tact to be elongated which can unpress tension or restriction in the vocal tract.  By vocalizing through a straw, we are creating back pressure which literally feeding energy back into the vocal folds, ‘waking them up’ and getting them to re-align!  Hello rejuvenation!

Initially brought into the voice world by Dr. Ingo Titze, straw phonation is one of the many ways we can bring the voice back after facing vocal health challenges.  It is not only used by laryngologists but also SLP’s and singing teachers.

In his original video “Vocal Straw Exercise” by the National Centre for Voice and Speech, Dr. Titze recommends Vocalizing through a straw several times a day for about 2-5 minutes using pitch glides (low to high) like a siren. When you go back to speech or singing words, you will most likely feel more front resonance vs a throaty or pressed uncomfortable sound.

Vocalizing through a straw in water tends to add a bit more resistance and can be useful for those singers dealing with muscle tension, or singers who struggle with getting enough energy behind their instrument. But the water isn’t always necessary for every voice user.

The diameter of the straw is an important differentiating factor.  Some singers can benefit from starting with a bit bigger of a diameter to get used to less back pressure.  Smaller diameter straws tend of give more back pressure which promotes even more air/muscle balance, getting the vocal folds to align symmetrically.  You can also vocalize through a bigger space such as a paper cup with a hole in the bottom, which can be the next step. In fact when learning how to belt, singing through a cup is very effective in helping us determine just how much energy we need. This is why I love The Voice Straw kit because it comes with two cups!

So when in doubt, if your voice feels like it needs a jump start, using the straw for a few minutes throughout each day can go a long way.

The Voice Straw

There are a whole lot of straws out there, but if you are an active singer and you plan on making straw phonation a huge part of your singing routine, I highly recommend The Voice Straw. It offers a few unique features that truly leverage the science it is founded on. It is the most comprehensive straw package on the market today. It comes with 4 difference straw sizes and two cups. I use it quite frequently with my clients and by the way, I am proud voice straw affiliate so... 

Here is a link to get 10% off your Voice Straw purchase!

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