Updated: Apr 17, 2020
Semi-Occluded Vocal Tract Technique: Straw Phonation!
We're going back to elementary school days for this one. Blowing bubbles with a straw! Believe it or not this can be one of the most beneficial techniques for your voice!
One technique to get the vocal folds to be vibrating with less needed pressure and to work in a more efficient pattern is called a semi-occluded vocal tract technique. This is also a great technique to reset the voice or to warm up the voice. One popular example is performed with a straw. Put a straw in your mouth and try humming through the straw. When producing the hum you should feel vibration at your lips and consistent air moving through the straw, like a kazoo. Keep the hum at your natural speaking pitch and a normal volume and keep sound consistent and even. You should feel a lot of vibratory sensation at your lips and absolutely no push, tightness, or effort in your throat. This should feel easy and perhaps like it reduces tension. You can also try doing this same thing in a cup of water, which can increase coordination of airflow with voicing and can reduce some tension in the throat when phonating. Put the straw about an inch under a cup filled halfway with water. Starting with a hum at your lips through the straw, keeping vibration and energy feedback at your lips, again without tension in your throat. You will see bubbles form in the water if you are doing correctly. These should be consistent and even. You should not force any air out or push from your throat to make the bubbles. If you do not feel that this is easy or do not see any bubbles in the water try making the hum a breathier “whoo” through the straw.