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Vocal Fundamentals Week 5: Straw Exercises

Today, we're talking about vocal fundamental #5: STRAW EXERCISES

 

Most of us only use a straw when we get a fountain drink at a restaurant, a Frappuccino at the ‘Bux, or in our water tumblers. But, did you know that the humble straw is an excellent tool for helping your voice in some really great ways?!

 

Straw exercises are one of my favorite parts of voice training because it’s a great way to go easy on your vocal cords, especially if you’ve been sick, had a vocal cord injury, or are dealing with fatigue or overuse issues. Using a straw can also be the perfect tool for newer singers as it allows you to make sound with less effort and stress on your vocal cords.

 

I like to use straw exercises with my vocal coaching clients not only for the above reasons, but also to help with sound placement, breath coordination, learning lip trills, and learning how to control your breathing and tone production over long phrases.

 

The straw exercises below are some of my favorites. I’ve had clients who are absolutely amazed at how well these exercises help them to feel where their voice and breath should be going, and work through challenging areas!

 

I hope these are helpful to you, too, and that they give you a new something to try during your warmups and vocal practice : ) Any kind of straw should work to get you started.

 

  1. First, place a straw in your mouth. Make sure your lips fully close around the straw. And try to keep your teeth out of the way of the straw. Gently focus your breath to only go through the straw and not out the sides of your mouth. Put the palm of your hand in front of the straw end, where the air is coming out, and make sure you can feel the air coming through. *If you don’t feel airflow, go ahead and jump to #4 below until you can learn how to coordinate your breath through the straw.  

  2. Now do the same thing as above, but this time HUM a comfortable note through the straw. Nothing too crazy or loud here, just an easy hum. So now you’re adding coordination of your breath PLUS a note. Again, make sure your lips are closed around the straw, that your breath is steady, and that you can feel your breath coming out of the end of the straw. 

 

*Something of note once you add a hum - you will feel a buzzing sensation in your lips, nose, forehead, etc. That’s a good thing! This is helping you to feel how your voice is resonating. As you continue to do the straw exercises, try and focus all of that energy and buzziness towards the front of your face and the front of your mouth. 

 

  1. Next, do the same as exercise 2, but slowly and with ease hum up and down a SCALE - work up to being able to accomplish this with no break in airflow and no choppy transitions from note to note (this is a hard one!). The idea is to make your breath feel seamless and your notes sound seamless.  

  2. If you find you are having trouble with any of this, fill a glass about halfway up with water. Now, practice blowing bubbles in the water with the straw. Notice where you have to focus your airflow to make those bubbles. Try to make note of what this sensation feels like, and then try again with maintaining airflow through the straw without the water. You can also use the straw in water to do the single note hums as well as hums on a scale if it’s an easier place for you to start.

 

This is one of those vocal exercises where you really can’t help but have fun! Who doesn’t remember blowing bubbles in our milk as kids? Maybe you still do this! So have fun with it. 

 

Your assignment this week: do 5 minutes of straw exercises at least 3 days this week.

 

A REMINDER

If you're feeling frustrated or insecure about your voice this week, remember that progress will take time, commitment, and the discipline to stick with it. Developing and taking care of a great voice is a long game. And don't forget:

 

I BELIEVE IN YOU BIG TIME!!

 

I know you have the desire AND the drive to do what you have to to put your best voice forward. Know how I know? Because you took the step to join this vocal community, and you're reading this right now. We need the unique voice that you have! Don't give up, and don't let anyone or anything distract you from the gifts that God has given you.

 

Always feel free to reach out. I'm here to help, and I don't want you to go one more day feeling like you can't put your best voice forward!


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