SOVT expert Oren Boder answers six of the top AMAs we received on semi-occluded vocal tract exercises & science.
And we discuss:
- Why the angle of the straw in water might make a difference – 3.50
- Why you might be bypassing the benefits of straws without realising it – 5.30
- Why matching resistance of your straw to your personal glottal impedance is important, and when to break that rule! – 7.10
- Understanding the relationship between the depth of the water and the resistance (as opposed to how full the bottle is) – 12.40
- What Eruptive Bubbling is, what causes it and why Oren doesn’t recommend it – 14.30
- And Jeremy joins in with information on SOVT and playing a wind instrument
Below is the transcript of the whole episode – you can listen on your favourite podcast platform (we’re on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher and a host of others) or click on this link to go to our own This Is A Voice podcast website: https://thisisavoice.buzzsprout.com
You can get Oren’s brilliant metal straw (we highly recommend it) from https://www.sovtstraw.com/?ref=VOCALPROCESS – use the code Vocalprocess to get 15% off your shiny new straw
You can learn more about SOVT techniques on Oren’s online (hands off) course here https://www.ob1.co.uk/sovt.html?ref=VOCALPROCESS (10% off with the code VocalProcess)
Or join Oren, Gillyanne and Jeremy for a LIVE online course here https://store.vocalprocess.co.uk/sovt-workshop
Watch Jeremy and Gillyanne use the straw when they coach Musical Theatre vocal and performance techniques https://www.ob1.co.uk/mmt.html?ref=VOCALPROCESS
This episode is sponsored by the One Minute Voice Warmup App, a collaboration between https://vocalprocess.co.uk and https://Speechtools.co
Offering vocal warmup exercises lasting 1 minute or less, the App has been approved by the NHS for healthy voice and Covid-19 related voice work.
Doctor Vox https://www.doctorvox.co.uk/shop/
Lax Vox http://laxvox.com/eng/index.html
Send us your own AMAs – you can record free here https://speakpipe.com/Vocalprocess
Vocal Process Online Singing Teacher Training https://store.vocalprocess.co.uk/singing-teacher-training-online
Keep your eyes peeled for the public Popup Masterclasses here: https://store.vocalprocess.co.uk/
This Is A Voice podcast episode 11 LockdownHeroes – Oren Boder SOVT pt 2 AMAs!
This is a voice, a podcast with Dr. Gillyanne. Kayes and Jeremy Fisher.
Aisling sent the question in on https://speakpipe.com/VocalProcess link, and she says this
Hi there, I have a question about use of the straw in and out of water. When we use it in water, we blow into it. And we have these bubbles in the water, which I’m aware is good for a tired voice. But when we take away that water and are just using the straw alone, how much air do you think should leave the straw? if any? And should we be actively blowing out that straw during phonation? Or just allowing a little bit of air through? Or no air? And are there benefits to exploring this spectrum? Thank you so much. And I’m really looking forward to the podcast.
It’s quite a question.
Gillyanne Kayes 1:13
It’s a great question, actually. Because I have had conversations with clinicians where they’ve maybe said, well, it’s all very well blowing in water. But what happens when you come out of the water? And you take the straw away? Over to you. Yeah,
Please answer in 30 words or less
Yes, it makes a difference using straw and not using straw. No, that’s not correct. Well, I mean, it does make a difference if you use a straw, not a straw, but it makes a difference between if you use water or not water as well. Um, so this is actually something that I’ve kind of learned and explored in conversation with Dr. Vox guys. And in essence, when you when you use a straw with water, you are creating what we call AC backpressure. And so this is just an electronics term, alternating current of backpressure. Yes. And that is to do with the fact that as you’re creating these bubbles, you’re only letting out pockets of air at a time. So there’s not a consistent flow of air outwards. And as you let out pockets of air at a time, the pressure is inconsistent also in its escape. And we know from Pascal’s law… now it’s a little bit different because Pascal’s law talks about closed systems, but it works in this instance. But Pascal’s law basically is any change in pressure will propagate through the the entire system equally. And so you can see that as you’re letting little pockets of air pressure out, you’re sometimes letting out high pressure and sometimes low pressure, high pressure, low pressure, high pressure, low pressure. And so when that gets translated back to the vocal tract, you know, the pressure is expanding and contracting the tissue surfaces as that pressure wave kind of moves across, which is how, this is kind of the underpinning of how everybody kind of describes this massage-like effects.
Gillyanne Kayes 3:16
So it’s similar to compression and rarefaction, isn’t it and ah
Can I can I just because I just had an image of what you were talking about. So you’re blowing down the straw into water and the air that you’re blowing down, pushes the water away from the straw forms a bubble and then when the bubble is released, the water then pushes back so that you’re constantly doing a backwards and forwards against the water. Once you take the straw out of the water, you wouldn’t have the backwards and forwards push because it’s just an external air pressure.
Gillyanne Kayes 3:45
So it’s mirroring what’s happening at vocal folds level in relation to the air in the vocal tract, isn’t it?
Exactly. Yes. One of the key points about using it with water though is actually the angle of the straw also makes a difference.
So if the angle so if the straw is like directly down impacting the surface of that water, this is a harder task. Because you have to displace essentially a greater depth of water consistently
If you angle that water, say 45 degrees. Part of that escape of air is easier because it’s slightly above the other and the pocket of air that is escaping has an easier route to atmosphere. So angle of a straw in water makes a difference obviously, as well as the depth.
Gillyanne Kayes 4:38
So talk to us about depth. Oh no, actually no, that’s an AMA that’s coming up
Gillyanne Kayes 4:45
So what Aisling said was how much air should leave the straw when you take the straw out of the water if if at all?
Yeah, should we be actively blowing out the straw or allowing a bit of air through or no air?
Yes. So in any, in any environment, whenever you’re using straw for phonation and is always moving out of the straw. If it doesn’t move out of the straw, let’s say out of water, for instance, because that was more relevant to the question, then the air is going somewhere else. And the only place for that to go is either it’s escaping through the sides of the lips, or through the nose. In both of those cases, you’re completely bypassing the straw. And so you’re bypassing the benefits it offers you. So yes, air should always be coming out of the straw, when you are doing both breathing and phonation-based tasks, it should never come through the nose. And there is obviously the consideration then of the flow rate. And essentially, how much of this air is coming out. Now, that is a little bit of a harder one to, to like hone in on because it really makes a difference with pitch, task, and individual.
And that’s another AMA that’s coming up.
I know it is Yeah, but I
Gillyanne Kayes 6:16
that’s why we’re running this.
Absolutely, Gillyanne, Oren and I are all doing a course together, which we’re going to tell you about later.
Gillyanne Kayes 6:24
Because that’s one thing that I’ve obviously experimented with, with with my own clients. And that’s how we work with our teachers. And we want more clarity on that
There is one thing because I was having an experiment, before we started, and there is one little, it’s not even a proviso. But it’s an interesting bit of information. If you take a straw and you sing down it and you sing with a clear tone, and you put your hand at the far end of the straw, you don’t feel very much. If you do the same volume, but you sing with a breathy tone, you feel a lot more airflow against your hand. And I’m wondering if Aisling’s question might have something to do with that too. Which is this is about how much the vocal folds are resisting, and therefore how clear the tone is.
Yeah, so there’s actually… this might answer the question, or I might kind of lend some more thought to that idea. Glottal impedance is the huge factor in selecting an appropriate resistance. In essence, you want to match the resistance of the straw to global impedance. Because then you know, the system is balanced and the pressure environments are really efficient and working together. If, if there is a mismatch, then you – other things happen. And so you might get high pressure environments or low pressure environments, which you might need to accommodate with other things like the breath or the physicality or the pressure and that kind of thing. So it might be then that it’s just a consideration of matching the glottal impedance, which is a complicated thing in itself.
Gillyanne Kayes 8:09
I have to say this makes me very happy because it means that the way that I’ve been working with straws, my instinct has been right.
The interesting thing for me is that you’re talking about glottal glottal impedance and airflow, one of the byproducts or even one of the products of using straw phonation, is that a singer, because the singer is quite keyed into what they’re doing, usually, a singer will often do that bit of adjustment themselves automatically. And what we found is that – and okay, it’s about getting the right size, length, straw diameter. What we found is that people if people are working too hard, that you know, two minutes on the straw, and they automatically start to rebalance what they do, which is rebalancing the impedance flow variable. And then if they’re not working hard enough, does the same thing happen, ie if they’ve got a really breathy sound, do they then rebalance the other way to get more global impedance?
I think I think actually, it’s harder to rebalance that way. If you’re doing too much, it’s easier to do less. Not doing enough, it’s much more difficult to try and do more, especially if the resistance that the straw offers is also less.
If you were to, if you were to sort of mismatch and increase the resistance of the straw, it would be much easier to balance things out. So in those situations, it might it might be that you – if the person can’t, really, isn’t that in tune and can’t like really try and manage those things physically, it might be better at that point to play about with the straw to try and rebalance things. And then try and let the body take over and see how that can evolve.
Gillyanne Kayes 9:59
So I mean, what you’re saying really is that the straw so it gives us kinesthetic feedback, you know, because there’s so many aspects of voice use that we think we can feel. But we don’t actually have, you know, control over. But because it is kinesthetic, it can build that sort of somatic feedback that that we need in the somatosensory system.
Yeah, exactly. It’s also bio visual feedback, especially when you’re doing it with with water,
because you can see the bubbles
Then you’re seeing exactly what’s going on. Yeah. So it does provide a greater awareness to the singer as to… it’s externalising the internal sensations, I think,
I want to go to… since we’re on this subject, which is really brilliant. Yeah, I want to go to Jan’s question. And this is Jan Jinkerson. And she asked this
Oh, hi, Gillyanne, Jeremy, and Oren. I wondered if it matters how much water you have in a cup. So as long as the student knows, to perhaps, hold the straw, a fairly shallow depth to get least resistance? Does it matter if the cup is half full? Or if it has just a couple of inches of water in it?
Very good question. And it’s, I think, this thought and this idea throws people off a lot. It is not necessarily the amount of water that you have in the cup. It is the amount of water above the straw that matters. So if you’re looking for something that is higher resistance, you want to have a greater body of water above the straw. If you’re looking for something that is offering low resistance, you want to have a shallower body of water above the straw.
When you say above the straw. You mean above the very end of the straw don’t you?
Its not that your head is underwater blowing the straw.
Yes, no exactly. Yes. So yeah, so the exit point. So the the further the exit point is into the water, the greater the resistance.
So for people that it’s like, you know, I fill up a water bottle 500 millilitres, that’s great. But 500 millilitres ain’t going to do much, unless you put it right at the bottom. And then you know, you’re getting 500 millilitres worth of water weight above you. So it is very much understanding the relationship between depth of water and resistance, as opposed to how full the bottle is, or the cup is coming to be honest. And that takes us back to the angle of the straw doesn’t add on, which is, you know, maybe a tip for john and his students is to make sure that they’re holding, you know, a glass bottle or something like that quite close to them and upright. It’s one of the things I quite like about the Doctor Vox here because everything is angled so you can do that.
Well, in the Doctor Vox, the top of the tube is angled, but the bottom of the tube goes straight down. And yeah,
The bottom you’ll notice is cut right? The bottom of that one is on an angle it’s cut.
Gillyanne Kayes 13:02
Oh, so it is? Ah ha.
We’ll actually put a picture of that up on the show notes. Yeah,
Gillyanne Kayes 13:13
cuz I know Oren’s going to be talking about them later. Yes. So that’s an important thing. All right. Should we go to the brass question?
No I’ve got another one. Oh, no, there are three on straws in water. So this is Michelle.
Hi, this is Michelle Robinson. And I have a question that I feel is quite fundamental when teaching SOVT. Using a straw and water, are we always looking towards consistent airflow across the range? Therefore if the bubbling increases at the extremes of the register, either higher or lower? Is there too much airflow at that point? Thanks very much.
Gillyanne Kayes 13:54
Yes, really good question. Again, I think this is something that people get thrown off by. Because if you if we’re talking about the stuff that you do with let’s say the Doctor Vox stuff, in general, there’s quite an eruptive bubbling going on. Whereas if you do kind of the more sort of thin and narrower straw based stuff, there is a consistent steady flow of bubbles going on. And so there are a couple of camps to this. I’ll put my ideas forward. And then maybe, maybe it’s it’s, it’s the controversial camp, I don’t know. But what I tend to say is, we’re looking for something that matches the task and the pitch. And so I consider it in terms of, yes, I want consistent, steady flow of bubbles. Let’s say if you’re sustaining a single pitch, I would want a nice consistent, steady flow of bubbles, because that’s going to allow us to see whether, you know, as we’re getting towards the end of that sustain whether the body is capable of just, you know, engaging a little bit more to assist in in that in that airflow to keep it consistent. So in those situations, I think consistency is great. As you move up in pitch, I think that consistency needs to be relative to that pitch. The one thing I don’t advise is eruptive bubbling. And so there’s been quite quite a few studies on this and actually just read a paper the other day, which was quite interesting. That was looking specifically at what causes eruptive bubbling, versus consistent, steady bubbling. And the eruptive bubbling, or they refer to it as chaotic is, is just that the bubbles are so chaotic, that the air stream is just doing whatever it wants, and there isn’t very much control behind it. Whereas consistent bubbling, there is that element of control. And because of that, it’s just sort of backtracking and looking, you know, if we’re increasing in pitch, phonation threshold pressure also increases. So we need so that there’s basically a need for greater resistance. Now, we know that this, the speed of the air moving through the straw is also a factor in resistance. So if we’re taking a narrower straw, that is high resistance anyway, putting it in water, that is increasing that resistance, we’re getting everything that we need to, to balance out the foundation threshold pressure. And if we then have eruptive bubbling on top of that, were then potentially overloading the system with too much pressure, which causes a problem. So going back to them, the Doctor Vox stuff, or the other way too cheap foundation stuff, you have a naturally bigger tube, which means there’s less resistance in it anyway. Which means in order to get the more the greater resist environment to match the finish and threshold pressure at higher pitches, you might need to increase the speed of the air moving through that system to boost that resistance.
Gillyanne Kayes 13:55
So there’s a couple of different things. But that’s why I think that potentially is an issue because we don’t necessarily want singers to increase the airflow. It’s, that’s why it’s very much for me task dependent. It’s what does a singer what what are they getting out of it? And how do we get them there in the best way? Yes,
Gillyanne Kayes 17:36
I think that’s really relevant
There’s something else as well, which is what type of sound are you making?
Gillyanne Kayes 17:41
Yes. That’s what’s the task.
It’s absolutely what’s the task. What is the phonation pressure threshold in a high soprano, classical pianissimo B flat is going to be very different from a rock screamer.
Gillyanne Kayes 17:57
Oren, just because you’ve mentioned a term very dear to my heart phonation threshold pressure. For anybody who perhaps isn’t familiar with it, you want to just say a couple of sentences about what it means and why it’s so important to both singers and speakers.
Yeah, so phonation threshold pressure or PTP is the easiest way to describe it is the minimum amount of lung pressure or sub glottal pressure necessary to set the vocal folds into motion. And so it’s a really important consideration. Because if we want to set the vocal folds into motion in the most efficient way, then we very clearly need to try and manage phonation threshold pressure more efficiently. And so when you kind of consider SOVT-based tasks, because you’re getting that back pressure reflected down towards the top of the vocal folds, the back pressure is assisting in resisting phonation threshold pressure, so that the vocal so the loading on the vocal folds is lessened. And so they are freer to oscillate and set into vibration more easily, that is not necessarily relative to where they would have been on the pitches they would have been singing at previously.
I mean that is essentially the purpose of SOVT, is to use the backpressure to aid to release the vocal folds a bit more so that they can vibrate more freely with less pressure
Gillyanne Kayes 19:31
And balance that PTP because I mean, every singer knows that maybe if they’re getting over a cold or they’ve been coughing a lot, or maybe they’ve just been working too hard with their voice that phonation threshold pressure tends to increase. And what they’ll typically report is “I’m having to work harder to make a sound”.
Yeah, and straws are fantastic for that. Thank you for that. And we love PTP because as a feel thing for a singer. It’s like Don’t have to work hard and yet I’m still getting the same. Hurray.
Gillyanne Kayes 20:03
Because we will work hard, you know, we will fill up with air and we will blow air.
And can I can I do one of my hobby horses, please? Subglottal pressure is a combination. It’s not just how much air is coming up from the lungs. It’s how much is being resisted as well.
So that’s vocal folds AND lungs, not just lungs. Thank you.
Gillyanne Kayes 20:24
Cool. All right. You’ve made your point.
Gillyanne Kayes 20:28
We have two questions. They came in about a couple of months apart, but they’re very, very similar. Now the first one comes from Penny and she sent this one in completely unsolicited about two months ago, she didn’t even know that we were going to be doing this
Gillyanne Kayes 20:44
And we’ve been hanging on to it since then
We’ve been hanging on to it. Penny didn’t actually leave any details. So I can’t let her know that she’s on here. But hopefully she listens to the podcast.
Hello. I would love to know if playing window brass instruments can do the same job for singers as doing SOVT exercises. I was thinking maybe taking up a clarinet or oboe would would do a double job. But I’d love to know, the technicalities of that or effects if I still would need to do the SOVT exercises with my straw to keep my singing voice. Well, thank you very much.
Love that question.
Gillyanne Kayes 21:23
Okay. And we’ll listen to the other one as well
We’ll listen to Steve
Steve Duguid 21:29
Someone once told me that if you want to learn about how to breathe, you should talk to a brass player. As next French horn player, this got me wondering whether Brass and woodwind players are at an advantage when approaching singing? Are they constantly working with SOVT when they’re playing their instruments? See you soon.
Okay, there’s a lot to unpack here. And I, I fully admit, I don’t play a woodwind instrument or wind instrument
Gillyanne Kayes 21:56
So I’ve never experienced playing one. But I can maybe add some thoughts based on the physics of what’s going on. I mean, technically, they would be SOVT devices, in that you’re occluding how the air is escaping the system. But I think their effect is tremendously different.
Tremendously different. In terms of the the physics of what’s Well actually, it kind of goes back to what I was saying earlier about the length of the tubes, the contractions and expansions of the tubes. For instance, if you take like a French horn, where you’ve got all these lovely twists and turns and bends and smaller sections and wider sections, then that airflow if you like, unravel all of that, that is a lot of tube that the asked to move through. And then it has to move through those expansions and contractions, which is it’s going to create quite a significant pressure job between the inlet and the outlet. And so based on that, I would say any kind of instrument of this kind is going to provide an insanely high resistance environment. And it is not the type of it might be the type of environment that is obviously very fine to be breathing with. But I would not advise trying to phonate in that kind of environment. Yeah. So yes, that’s that’s my initial thoughts on that.
Can I add some stuff because I have played most of those instruments.
Gillyanne Kayes 23:27
And I’ve got a couple of things to say.
Yeah. I am an ex oboist with the emphasis on the ex. I actually played oboe as the first study of music college, oboe, flute, clarinet, saxophone. I was a crap bassoonist. I have also played French horn in a pantomime once, which is my only claim to fame on the French horn. And the answer first of all, is that with some really weird exceptions, you don’t phonate while you’re playing. So there is no effect on the vocal folds from that point of view because your vocal folds are open. To make the sound. There are a very few occasions when you do sing while you’re playing. And they’re usually contemporary, contemporary classical stuff
Gillyanne Kayes 24:09
So normally on the flute as well
Yeah, on the flute, you can sing and play and that’s much more prevalent in jazz and it’s much more prevalent in rock for flute players. But then when you take each instrument individually, the oboe has the highest back pressure because of the aperture of the double reed which is really minute
Gillyanne Kayes 24:29
so it’s very it increases resistance a lot.
Yeah. And to the point where as an oboist, my neck used to swell up a lot because of the pressure that would that I was having to put down the instrument.
Gillyanne Kayes 24:39
And if you’re playing the bassoon
Well bassoon is a wider reed. This is the interesting thing
Gillyanne Kayes 24:43
Oh is it? It’s a longer tube
Bassoon is a much wider aperture, although it’s a much longer aperture, it’s a much wider reed on the hole to blow down is bigger.
So actually, that’s also really that’s a really good point. I think a lot of people don’t realise in that the This is why I think potentially Titze was saying earlier that the length of the tube is less important. And that is because for every millimetre of diameter difference, you’re getting a 16 fold increase in resistance, as opposed to it’s linear with the length. So in that instance, sure, the instruments might be different sizes. But if the diameters are different enough, the resistance will be significant.
Gillyanne Kayes 25:23
*Gets pencil, writes down that figure*
There’s something else as an oboist as well, and it was something I got very used to, which is we always have too much air. So you literally you take an amount of air into play a phrase, or three, two phrases, or three phrases, and you always have some left over. So you can’t even get the air out that’s in your lungs, you actually have to stop playing and breathe out before you breathe in. So there’s tremendous pressure in there. And it doesn’t… for me, because I then got used to having such a big amount of back pressure from the oboe, slightly less from the clarinet, a lot less from the flute, because the embouchure is so different. I found that my singing voice was affected and not well, it was actually affected quite badly, because I just couldn’t, I had so much back pressure that I was used to that when I came to sing, I was using a lot of pressure to – I was using a lot of closure force to get there. So I would say to Penny,
Gillyanne Kayes 26:25
There have been a couple of studies on this
There have and there’s there’s also this is anecdotal. It’s old wives tale, but they do say don’t play the oboe and sing.
Gillyanne Kayes 26:34
If you want to be a professional singer, they don’t advise it. So Penny continue to use your SOVT to reset after playing
Definitely use the exercises
Gillyanne Kayes 26:43
Absolutely. I think I’d say that as well, my experience of working with people who play saxophone or trumpet, but particularly saxophone partly because a mouthpiece is so far in. But again, it’s really quite a high resistant reed system that you’re working with there. And the way that they manage their air flow is often very different. So it’s not that you can’t, but be aware that it’s a different system.
In terms of breathing pattern, I was taught the opposite of splat breathing. I was taught to push out and down when I played
Gillyanne Kayes 27:19
It’s very typical with brass players as well.
Which is so counter to the physics of what we need for breathing as well.
Gillyanne Kayes 27:28
Yeah, I know.
Because if you if you think about it to create the high pressure environment that you probably want for those situations, you need to reduce the volumatic space of the lungs. Yes. So to do the opposite of that is crazy.
I just want to pick up on mouthpieces
Gillyanne Kayes 27:45
Man after my own heart
Mouthpieces, because when you look at brass instruments, the mouthpiece is outside. So there is nothing in your mouth, what you’re doing is you’re creating the pressure using a lip trill, essentially, you are basically playing with a lip trill. And that’s how brass instruments make their sound. The moment you go on to reed instruments, you have something that is vibrating inside your mouth. And when you’re looking at clarinet and saxophone, particularly, but oboe and bassoon, to a lesser extent, the mouthpiece is quite far inside your mouth and you’re using your tongue tip, or sometimes the blade, to articulate which means you’re having to pull your tongue backwards to be able to touch that reed and get away from it. Which usually means that the tongue is used to being backed in the mouth when you’re playing a woodwind instrument. Flute is the exception. Yeah, so that also has knock on effects. Okay, geek moment over.
Gillyanne Kayes 28:41
Whoa, that was fun. Well, we’ve got we’ve got one more question, from a speech and language therapists.
Hi, guys. It’s Tor Spence from Voice Fit here. Speech and Language therapist. I’m really looking forward to this episode. Thank you for talking about it. So my question is now that vocal coaches and singing teachers, voice teachers, so many people are using SOVT exercises, and they’re also obviously a hugely important part of vocal rehabilitation after injury. How can we ensure that potential voice disorders aren’t overlooked and treated by the coach with SOVT, without the formal medical examination and treatment?
Such a good question
Gillyanne Kayes 29:26
Me, me, me, I want to start
Gillyanne has an opinion on.
Gillyanne Kayes 29:29
I want to start if that’s all right, and first of all, Tor, thanks so very much for your question. Because this is a really, really relevant question at this time. I’m actually going to tell a story from my own past. Would be 30 odd years ago. As a singing teacher, I had just done my very first Estill course, very shiny and new. Because some of you may not know that for a while, I was actually a senior Estill trainer and I was licenced to teach the course. Anyway, this was right at the beginning. And it was, you know, very exciting to find out about things that the vocal folds do. Because back in the early 1990s, we didn’t talk about this, it was breathe, you know, feel the resonance and thou shalt never feel anything at the level of the larynx, dear. You know, that’s how we were trained. So off I went, I was teaching at the East 15 acting school, and I had a girl who just started, who had a breathy voice. And I thought, great, I know what to do now, you know, I know exactly what to do, breathy, vocal folds aren’t coming together. So I taught her glottal onsets. And we were very pleased because her voice was less breathy. And first week, went quite well, second week, she came back and she said, it’s got worse, and I’m uncomfortable. I did a few glottal onsets with her. It wasn’t working. I had the good sense to stop and think, okay, there’s something going on here. And I don’t know what it is. And so I referred her to a voice clinic. That girl had a cyst. And no way were glottal onsets going to be of any use to her at all. And I learned from that 30 years ago, that no matter how clever you are, as a singing teacher, no matter how many facts you might have, no matter that you’ve learned how to pick up a straw, which comes from voice therapy anyway, you cannot diagnose. You cannot treat. And if you don’t know what’s going on, if something isn’t working, refer on. And I was very fortunate. Because the Sidcup clinic, Queen Mary’s Hospital was down the road for me in those days. So I was able to work with Sarah and Tom, this girl received surgery from Tom and Sarah Harris guided me in post-rehab work. So I see what singing teachers do is always in the level of post voice rehabilitation. We don’t diagnose. We don’t rehabilitate. What are your thoughts?
I, it’s very interesting, because actually, I completely agree. Which perhaps is no surprise, but I think the simplest answer to that question is, I think it’s a call for a greater awareness of oneself as a teacher, and to realise that we don’t know everything, and that it’s okay to not know everything, I think there is this like, huge kind of fear culture as singing teachers that, oh, if I refer, you know, if I if I, if I don’t, if I don’t know how to treat this moment, if I don’t do this with the singer, then they’re gonna think I’m a rubbish singing teacher, and then never come to me again, or somebody else is going to steal my client, because, you know, they’re better at fixing that problem. And I think just, let’s forget all of that. It’s not about us as teachers, it’s about the person you’re working with. And if we don’t have the knowledge, and the expertise, and the diagnostic capabilities to assist that person, then we need to admit and be honest with ourselves about that, and pass that on to the person or the institution or the entity that is capable of doing those things.
I’m going to go one step further. There is no if, as a teacher
You do not have the capability to diagnose – End of story. And the reason for that is you don’t have an endoscope. You don’t have a stroboscope you actually can’t see you cannot tell different vocal problems by sound.
Gillyanne Kayes 33:51
I’ve had people with cysts who actually sounded perfectly alright, by and large, except for one or two kind of odd blimps in the range. I’ve had people with cysts who are very husky and very hoarse. So you can’t tell. I think one thing I’d say
Just before you go further, there’s one more thing which is even if you thought you could tell what what a particular thing sounds like, that sounds like nodules… excuse me that sounds like a nodule. No, there is no such thing as a nodule. They always come in pairs. That sounds like a cyst. It doesn’t because the other thing is, and we’ve we’ve you know, we’ve experienced in voice clinics, we’ve experienced some really complex things that you don’t… even if it looks like a cyst on strobe, sometimes there is something else that’s underneath it, because you can have really complicated pathologies going on. And also as a singing teacher, you don’t take people’s history. It’s there’s there’s a sort of ethics and morals thing going on here as well. I think the thing that you can do is to test out and if you like this is, in essence, this is what Gillyanne did the first time she went, Oh, I’ve got a great technique. Let’s do it. Fortunately, she was wise enough when it then didn’t work consistently to go, that technique doesn’t work. And it’s not that the student hasn’t been doing it hasn’t been practising. It’s actually that the technique doesn’t work and you’re dealing with the person in front of you. And then you go, Well, I’ve tried stuff out, that doesn’t work, I now really need to refer on
Gillyanne Kayes 35:20
It just didn’t sound right. And my instinct said to me, okay, there’s something going on here. I mean, I barely knew anything about voice pathology at that time
I had such a similar experience, actually, just recently, in a client of mine had actually come from, and this isn’t this is not in the UK, it’s in a different country. And I won’t give too much of the specifics. But had come from an SLP and ENTs. And every kind of medical practitioner, who had said to this client that we advise you go and use straw phonation interventions, but we can’t offer that to you, it’s not part of the the frameworks and the procedures that we do, you’ll have to go and seek somebody else out. And so that person came to me. And I did take quite a comprehensive kind of, I wanted to know, everything she’s done previously, everything that she’s been told to do, and I kind of based what we were doing, on what she had been told to do. And about three sessions in it, you know, everything was okay, because we weren’t doing anything too crazy for the first couple of sessions, it was very light, very, very light, bubbling very light work. And for the third session, we did a little bit extra. And I was like, Okay, I’m not comfortable with this anymore. There was something on, there was something like a preventative, something wasn’t working the way we wanted it to work. And I was like, I’m not sure I agree with you being told to just come to any old random person to continue with this, I’m going to refer you on. And so, you know, we followed the advice. And so this is actually interesting point, always get a second opinion. Because we followed the advice that she was given by her practitioners, I followed their framework, something still didn’t feel right. I am not comfortable delivering any more teachings, because that fell outside of my knowledge of my expertise. And so I’ve referred her on now to another specialist, who I know and trust and who I believe is going to be able to diagnose more appropriately and then provide a greater sense of intervention. And so that was my little thing, get a second opinion, please.
Gillyanne Kayes 37:46
I absolutely agree with you. I just wanted to say something, Jeremy, that because I think Tor has really highlighted something that’s important for us singing teachers to know, obviously, we don’t diagnose and we don’t rehab. But there is a need for singing teachers and voice trainers in general to know, to look for referral markers. So you know, what are the typical markers, you’ve just described something, I’ve just described something anecdotally, are there typical markers that we can be looking at so that we have a more informed, more informed understanding of what to be looking for to say, you know, I really think you should be seen by a clinician here. You know, let’s go along, I’m going to be happier if you go to the voice clinic. And, and we we need more cross-conversation. Obviously, it’s very difficult at the moment because of covid that singing teachers can’t go into the voice clinics, which often they’re able to do informally, or or more formally. So thank you for that question.
It’s a great question
Gillyanne Kayes 39:01
And looking forward to hearing more conversations about that. I just want to say that we will be running a course in Spring with Carrie Garrett, who is a specialist speech and language therapist specialising in voice and a singer. We’ll be running a version of My Singer Has a Voice Problem. So look out for those dates, because you might find that helpful in looking for these referral markers.
Can we also highlight the course that we’re all doing?
Gillyanne Kayes 39:32
Absolutely. I just thought I’d drop that one in
Saturday, November the 21st.
Gillyanne Kayes 39:36
10 til 12.
Gillyanne Kayes 39:39
Yeah. The SOVT – that’s 10 in the morning, until midday, not 10 till midnight. It’s two hours online with the three of us. We’re doing the SOVT Workshop. We have some places left on that although it is already filling up.
Gillyanne Kayes 39:55
I’m hugely looking forward to it.
Yes. What is on your wish list in 2021
Gillyanne Kayes 40:00
Oh my goodness, yes, look at us we’re running, we’re running, but it doesn’t matter. So, what’s coming up
Wow. So what’s coming up, I’m getting set to release four new attachments, the SOVT straw.
Which I know Jeremy, we’ve spoken about this Yeah, the other day with a bit, but three of which I’m very happy to mention now one of which I can’t until we get the patent for it. But the one of them essentially is just a connector that’s like a j bend to either allow the singer to position the straw more appropriately when working with water, or to reverse that and then to get the angle right when submerged in water. We’re working… The other attachment actually, I think is probably most people will be excited about is a variable resistance aperture. And so it allows the user to dynamically change the aperture to increase or decrease resistance. So as they’re, let’s say sliding up in pitch or whatever, they can modify it during those slides, if they need to just get a little bit more resistance out of it. So that’s, that’s currently in the works. I think that will be kind of early, early 2021. The the most like the biggest project, I’ve been working on this, actually, you’ve you’ve seen this. So I guess working on it since last year sometime is a another kind of SOVT device. But a lot more to be very careful, elaborate than the current device. And we’re currently looking for investment. And so 2021 is going to be our investment kind of outreach year, and so we can complete R&D for that.
So we’ve heard about this, we’re not going to reveal any details at all but it is incredibly exciting.
Gillyanne Kayes 42:03
And do you think I mean, obviously, maybe it’s it’s too early to say but we know that singers and speakers who have been unfortunate enough to have COVID-19 and who maybe have coughed for months and being intubated, are having quite long term problems in vocal recovery. Do you think that this can contribute in any way to taking those people forward?
So yeah, it was the what you saw last year was the first kind of evolution of it, when COVID happened, we pivoted quite quickly, to try and adjust what we had to lend aid to people recovering from COVID. We kind of got more into that. And we started seeking partnerships with Imperial and other kind of universities and institutions that were at the very heart of this kind of research. And the trouble is, in order to get something medically verified and validated, it’s like a two year pathway. And so we kind of then missed the boat for a medical intervention for helping people recover from from COVID, which was the intention at the time, we’ve now kind of reverted back to offering something for singers that can also be used as an intervention method. But it is not necessarily designed for that. And the reason why we’ve done it that way is so we can get it to market quicker, which ultimately means we can help more people, even if it is not medically validated. And I will absolutely say we don’t endorse anything in particular. But everybody is free to use what we create how they see best for their own recovery.
Gillyanne Kayes 43:59
Yeah, I’m glad I came up with that. Because I can imagine, you know, many of our singing teachers in a situation where we have a client who has had difficulties in the recovery process, and we’re looking for ways to help them. Cool. I got one thing to ask Oren which is you are quite young compared with us. You’re still in your 20s. And I mean, frankly, you know, you’ve you’ve talked about what it was like when you had a health challenge. What advice would you give to young people right now who’ve had their dreams put severely on hold or their dreams smashed
Gillyanne Kayes 44:45
You know, what, what advice would you give them to feel that they can move forward?
This, this is a really tough question, actually. Because I don’t know, necessarily, if my advice would, would change as a result of the pandemic, but the advice I would give to anybody is to find something that you are incredibly passionate about, pursue that thing, whatever that thing is, with all of your energy and all of the passion that you have. And then find some way to use that thing that you’re passionate about, to do good in the world to enrich lives and to make an impact in the universe. And it doesn’t have to be big. It just needs to be something that you are passionate about. And so COVID, or no COVID, if you are still passionate about the thing that you did, before COVID happened, then keep that passion and find a way to turn that passion into something positive for yourself, and then, for other people. I think that that, to me is like the really the core belief, it is yes, we are all passionate about the things that we do. And that is great. And that is incredible. And I encourage people to really be passionate about the things that they do to enrich their own lives. But then to use that drive to help other people in some way, as well.
Gillyanne Kayes 46:11
You’re talking about desiring to make a difference aren’t you?
Gillyanne Kayes 46:17
nice, thank you for that
I think it’s a wonderful place to finish.
Gillyanne Kayes 46:20
So thank you for that. And we just have some little bits and pieces to wind up with sponsored today by the One Minute Voice Warmup app, because today is healthy voice day. And the One Minute Voice Warmup app is a joint production with Vocal Process and Speechtools, hi Speechtools, hi Sam and Garry. I will put the link to that. Courses coming up: the SOVT workshop, obviously, Saturday, November 21. Belting and Power Sounds Saturday the 7th of November 10am-12pm. Now this is open to people who’ve done Vocal Process courses with us. But we are going to be repeating it and opening it to everybody next year. So we’ll keep you posted on that. And the M1/M2 Workshop is in fact, the next thing coming up
Gillyanne Kayes 47:06
And that’s full isn’t it
We have one place left, one place left. And for those of you who don’t know that terminology, M1 M2 is two different types of vocal fold vibration, or modal and falsetto or however you want to call it. And we’re doing two hours just on that. How do you find those sounds. How you how you make them.
Gillyanne Kayes 47:26
We had a lot of fun last time
It was great, great course last time. And I’m going to say to you look out, we are going to bring on a whole series of 2 hour online master classes. We’ve done four of them already, as part of our Online Singing Teacher Training. The feedback has been nothing short of phenomenal.
Gillyanne Kayes 47:43
And that’s something we never thought we’d do.
No, no. But you basically you’ve heard us talk now you see us walk. Which is we’re actually walking the talk this is how we do it. This is how we work with singers and we always work with other people’s singers so we haven’t met them. We haven’t worked with them. We haven’t seen them
Gillyanne Kayes 47:59
Sight unseen, unheard.
Sight unseen and unheard and and then part of the the two hour masterclass is not just that we work with those people, but we actually discuss why we did certain things and why we didn’t do others. So it’s the whole business of diagnosis. And basically what order we do things
Gillyanne Kayes 48:18
Because our mission is making a difference to teaching
Gillyanne Kayes 48:21
And what about some of the Oren’s things, are they going in the show notes?
Gillyanne Kayes 48:25
Okay. Yes. So Oren’s own online, hands off SOVT course, obviously the little booklet.
Gillyanne Kayes 48:34
And a couple of things that we’ve done with you are in which are hosted?
Yes. And obviously, your SOVT straw is going to go into the show notes too
Gillyanne Kayes 48:44
Isn’t there a discount people can get using Vocal Process?
Yes, your Vocal Process discount.
Gillyanne Kayes 48:50
Yeah. And it’s that 10% that they get?
Yeah, we’ve upped it. We’ve upped it
Gillyanne Kayes 48:58
So if you go onto our site, which is https://OB1store.com. UK, I have to tell you, when you told me that the website was OB1.co.uk, I love that.
Gillyanne Kayes 49:10
We were so jealous.
So OB1.co.uk. And if you go and put the straw into your basket and put in VocalProcess all one word as a code, then you get 15% off. So thank you Oren, it’s been excellent
Gillyanne Kayes 49:24
It’s been amazing
It’s been an hour and a half of just brilliant talk
Gillyanne Kayes 49:28
Pure joy, pure joy.
So we may end up splitting this into two or we may do in one that we’ll we’ll let everybody know.
Thank you so much for inviting me to do this with you. It’s been so much fun, and I really enjoyed it
Gillyanne Kayes 49:40
Thank you. Thank you so much.
And we’ll see everybody next time.
Gillyanne Kayes 49:44
This is a voice, a podcast with Dr. Gillyanne Kayes and Jeremy Fisher