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How to Practice with SOVT Sounds

This week, we talk about how to practice with semi-occluded vocal tract sounds.

Semi-occluded vocal tract exercises create a “cushion” of air above and below the vocal folds that helps the vocal folds to vibrate with the least amount of collisional force. Singing on these sounds allows you to exercise your voice in a way that creates less stress and less impact on the vocal folds. 

A great way to use SOVTEs in your warm up is singing one note at a time, holding the note out as long as you can comfortably sustain it (it shouldn’t ever feel pushed or strained).  Singing one note at a time can help improve the function of your voice by: 

  1. Maintaining a constant tension of the vocal folds over time, which helps increase control and strength.
  2. Challenging the muscles of the vocal folds with increased duration of sound. This is kind of like when you do a plank, you challenge your muscles by holding your body in one position against gravity and time.
  3. Helping the vocal subsystems (air pressure system, vibratory system, resonator system) to coordinate optimally by working on all subsystems simultaneously.

Ready to try it?

Choose your SOVT sound (lip trill, humming, singing through a straw, or singing through a straw submerged in water). Start at a comfortable pitch and hold it out as long as you can comfortably hold it (not as long as you can possibly hold it). It should never feel pushed or strained. Then move up or down to the next note and do the same.

See if you can do 5 notes in a row (for example, C-D-E-F-G: the first 5 notes of a C major scale).  As long as it doesn’t feel tight or strained, you can experiment with going even higher!

Until next time,
Your SonoVoice Team

Next Week: Vocal Fitness in 2023 - A Review


Further Reading

  • Hilljeh, K. and Pinto, C. Realizing the Benefits of SOVTEs: A Reflection on the Research. J Singing. 2021: 77(3); 333-344
  • Titze, I. . Major Benefits of Semi-Occluded Vocal Tract Exercises. J Singing. 2018; 74(3): 311-312.

You are a vocal athlete!

Athletes put superhuman demands on the human body. They practice to stay in shape, get better and prepare for the event. No athlete expects to perform at their best without working on their technique, practicing skills, and preparing for the game. 

The same goes for you as a vocal athlete. Practice will help you be prepared for your event: performance. Unfortunately, there’s no shortcut! If you want to be at your best as a singer, you’ll need to establish a regular vocal exercise and practice regimen.

In our weekly Vocal Fitness Friday email, SonoVoice's team of experts in science-based voice training  will be sharing information about how the voice works, tips on keeping your voice healthy, and ideas for vocal exercises for peak vocal fitness.