Podcast 14 – More SOVT AMAs part 2

We had so much material on SOVT straw techniques and AMAs that we had to split it in 2! Here is SOVT Singing Straw creator Oren Boder’s return visit, part 2. All three of us answer questions on:

  • Athletic vocal exercises – what does that mean?
  • The difference between athletic, therapeutic and agility SOVT work
  • A/C versus D/C backpressure and what it means for your vocal folds
  • Lumpy runs and how to avoid them
  • When not to use a straw
  • Why you might want to match your straw to a lower glottal impedance before building resistance
  • Oren’s take on teachers who claim SOVT isn’t as useful for M2 singing
  • Why SOVT exercises DON’T force a change in vibration and what they DO change
  • Using “Puffy cheeks” and straws
  • A top tip from Oren, Jeremy and Gillyanne to take away

Below is the transcript of the whole episode – you can listen on your favourite podcast platform via this link 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 expandable 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 repeat of the LIVE online SOVT workshop here https://store.vocalprocess.co.uk/sovt-workshop

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 13 Oren Boder returns with more SOVT AMAs

Announcer  0:11
This is a voice, a podcast with Dr. Gillyanne Kayes and Jeremy Fisher.

Jeremy   0:22
Hello, and welcome to part 2 of AMA… I don’t know which part we’re even on now. SOVT AMA part 2 part 2?

Gillyanne Kayes  0:31
Yes, we got so excited when we were recording that we had to split this up into two podcasts so that you can really digest the information that you’re going to get. And we’re so pleased to have you… on… this…

Jeremy   0:45
So this is, this is technically our fourth podcast with this combination. We have a lot of fun on this.

Oren  0:55

Jeremy   0:56
So I want to go to Jan’s question. And in fact, Jan and Lindsey had a very similar one. Jan said, Could you clarify what’s meant by athletic vocal exercises, please? And can someone give me an example or two of athletic vocal goals that we might use straw work to help us achieve please?

Gillyanne Kayes  1:17
Yes, because she wasn’t sure what she whether it meant agility? And we thought that…

Jeremy   1:24
Yeah. And I see, I actually want Lindsey to I want to read Lindsey’s question because it’s linked. And she said, to follow on from Jan’s Facebook question. Does the term athletic, encompass agility work when it comes to straw resistance? Or would you be looking at three areas? therapeutic (bubble work), athletic (high resistance, sustain exercises) and agility (lower resistance flexibility exercises)? Fantastic question

Gillyanne Kayes  1:50
That is very interesting, yes nice job Lindsey. Okay, Oren?

Oren  1:55
Yes, I would classify those three,

Jeremy   1:57
that was a short answer.

I thought you would.

Oren  2:00
Next question.

Gillyanne Kayes  2:01
She got it, she got it! Well done Lindsey

Oren  2:04
Yes, it’s because actually, I, I, we probably didn’t have enough time on Saturday. But that was kind of demonstrated in the overall map of the components. And so the classification for me for like an athletic based exercise, is I use it kind of like to describe the general voice building activity overall, as opposed to something that is a maintenance activity, which the kind of therapeutic would fall under. And so it would, that I think the principal differences, which would be the way you apply the straws, for instance, if you’re just using them out of water, and you’ve just got the DC backpressure, that I would classify as voice building and more athletic because it is a consistent loading. Whereas on the AC with the alternating, I would probably classify that more therapeutic because of that massage-like result.

Jeremy   3:06
we need to unpack that, because for people who weren’t on the course…

Just remind them about AC/DC?

yeah, I’m just, I just want to just break down AC and DC, and it’s sort of comes from electrical currents. If you think of

Gillyanne Kayes  3:17
We’re not giving away your course, by the way, Oren, we’re drawing people into it

Oren  3:22
No, this is good, this is public knowledge.

Jeremy   3:24
Absolutely. So alternating current AC, imagine that you are you have your straw in water. And you can actually do this, if you want to pause the podcast and go and get a bottle of water and a straw. And put – take the straw out of the water and blow down it and you have a continuous flow. When you put the straw into water because you have the water there and that’s a different body, what you get is bubbles and what the bubbles are is a blow of air and then a bounce back, that stops the flow of air and allows the bubble out and then it bounces down again and bounces back and bounces down and bounces back. And that’s why bubbles are formed in water. That’s the alternating current. Which is said because you’re getting this slight change of back pressure when you’re doing the straw in water. It massages the vocal folds more effectively than a direct current which just goes straight out.

Oren  4:16

Gillyanne Kayes  4:16
Can I just add because I don’t know what you think about this, Oren, in terms of athlete less athleticism. And therapeutic, I’m thinking about maybe sort of older voices, who maybe somebody who doesn’t speak very much and their voice is getting a little bit weak. And they want to sort of rebuild. I think that maybe doing something quite athletic but in water would be helpful. Same as it would be for someone who has Yeah, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, COPD, thatyou know, and then they’re beginning to sustain and they’re beginning to really get the breathing system working more efficiently. I mean, can they can complement each other can’t they?

Oren  5:08
Yeah, absolutely. And again, this is why I think having that component based approach is better because you can look at the essentially the task you want to achieve, and you can go, okay. Taking, you know, taking this voice into account, yes, we want to build some of that strength and athleticism back into it. But we need to be a little bit careful to not overdo things and have that kind of still, the benefits of that massage, and so be very much a matter of rate in water is going to be really beneficial.

What other components can I tag on to this to assist it might be that you need to play about with the straw size and length and diameter, because yes, the water is going to be providing the resistance. But the diameter and length of the straw is also going to determine how long the air spends in that tube interacting with all of the properties of that tube. And all this kind of stuff.

And so yes, I would absolutely say it’s a modular approach. It is somebody that wants to kind of do that for let’s just take the example of COPD, for instance. There are there’s a lot of COPD based interventions out there currently, which are not too dissimilar to straw phonation based interventions, except they almost do it on the reverse. A lot of COPD stuff is inspiratory pressures.

Jeremy   6:45
Oh, so it’s INbreath?

Oren  6:46
Yes. And so there’s actually if anybody’s interested in the co… COPD side of things, there’s a cool device called a power breathe, which is it’s just like a canister that with a like a mouthpiece that you put your mouth around. And they have them set to different inspiratory resistances. So it’s not good for phonation, this is purely breathing at this point. And they’re relatively high resistance and you kind of do different inhalation based exercises to train the respiratory muscles.

So in that kind of comparison, I would say definitely with water to give you a greater variability of resistance, whilst kind of having that ease of the massage, probably you might want to even look at something that’s just a little bit narrower on the straw, just so it gives you a kind of a tighter flow regime. So the air isn’t just so spread out within the straw that it can turn and bounce around and interact, you kind of want something that is relatively, you know, straightforward. And potentially then replicate some of those inspiratory muscle inspiratory respiratory exercises.

But on the outbreath it will be puffs of air that you just displace the water quite rapidly. And give a nice little we’re working out can look a little boost of workout intermittently, as opposed to something that’s heavily loaded and consistent.

Gillyanne Kayes  8:18
Yeah, so it’s a bit like interval training. And some pioneering work has been done on this by the Singing For Lung Health project and has been continued by our colleague Phoene Cave. Yes, which I think is The Musical Breath. And we hope to have her as a guest sometime, don’t we Jeremy?

Jeremy   8:37
We do! I also want to go to the second bit of that, which is the agility? Because I know when this question came up, and I looked at it and I thought the thing about athleticism and agility is that for me, they don’t go together as a voice trainer, they don’t go together. Because in order to sing runs really well, we actually need to back off pressure, we don’t need as loud a volume. And that’s partly because I think where the eye can see things that move particularly the… oh dear I’m gonna I’m gonna annoy the sexist people now but the male brain is geared towards seeing movement and the female brain is geared towards seeing colour. The lot of research done on that, but hey, if people want to throw stuff at me, that’s fine. The point is that you can see movement much more easily.

Gillyanne Kayes  9:25
I’m not here

Jeremy   9:25
It’s alright dear! You can see movement more easily than you can see static. So movement attracts your attention. Likewise, for me with hearing, a voice that moves attracts my attention more than a voice that just stays in one place. And therefore when you’re doing a run, you want to back off the volume which makes your voice easier to move and then come back onto the volume when you hit the top note or the bottom note. And you know I sing runs a lot and I’ll constantly back off the pressure when I hit the run and then come back on when I hit the arrival note,

Gillyanne Kayes  10:01
I mean too much pressure, even if you’re in CCM singing and you’re riffing, and in classical singing as well, if your pressures too high,

Jeremy   10:09
You can’t move

Gillyanne Kayes  10:10
you get lumpy runs

Jeremy   10:12
Lumpy runs, there is nothing worse than having lumpy runs

Gillyanne Kayes  10:16
As a sufferer of lumpy, lumpy runs when I was a young singer I know all about them. Okay

Oren  10:22
But what’s interesting, even actually still on this agility topic is we I think we’ve spoken about it before as well, that is then complimentary to a shorter, less resistance configuration of a straw. Because what you’re doing then is you’re Yes, you’re providing a little bit of back pressure, but not too much that when you move between these notes, you’re not kind of displacing the balance because the pressure of the straw is too high.

But then also, the shorter the straw, you the sounds the acoustic energy spends less time propagating and bouncing around within that chamber. So it gets it’s less “confused” by the other notes that are then interacting with that chamber, so you get a greater clarity of sound.

Gillyanne Kayes  11:18
Yes, well, that makes very good sense. Because potentially, we have a different set of harmonics with each pitch. Yeah. Okay, cool.

Jeremy   11:26
Loving that.

Gillyanne Kayes  11:27
All right. Where are we going next?

Jeremy   11:29
I just want to go, we might actually end up splitting this podcast into two again.

Gillyanne Kayes  11:33
Can I have a cup of tea in between?

Jeremy   11:36
Yep. I want to go to Jackie Harrison. And she

Gillyanne Kayes  11:39
Oh, she’s on Speakpipe.

Jeremy   11:41
So this is Jackie.

Jackie Harrison  11:42
It’s Jackie Harrison. Hi, Jeremy, Gillyanne and Oren. I love the session on Saturday. And I have a question. I’ve seen a huge difference in some of my pupils since using passive SOVT. It smoothed out transitions, and helped with any unwanted breathiness. I’d like to know if there is ever a time when it wouldn’t be advisable to sing through a straw. I know we discussed Parkinson’s briefly. But I wondered if there was anything else we should be aware of. Many thanks. I’m really looking forward to the podcasts. And part two of SOVT.

Jeremy   12:25
Thank you Jackie

Gillyanne Kayes  12:26
We did not prime Jackie to do that. Jackie Harrison is one of our Vocal Process Accredited Trainers. And she’s also worked with you before and hasn’t she she’s taken your online course.

Jeremy   12:39
I’ve taken your online course. It’s very good.

Gillyanne Kayes  12:41
Yeah. So um, well.

Jeremy   12:44
Okay, so is there any time that you wouldn’t advise it?

Gillyanne Kayes  12:47
Yeah, when wouldn’t you advise it?

Oren  12:50
Yeah. So as a kind of broad spectrum thing. SOVT interventions should never replace the, it should never be like, you just do SOVT work and you don’t do anything else. It should always be interweaved with something. So if it’s a situation where somebody is just doing straw stuff all the time, and never combining it with other stuff, that’s a bit of a problem. So I think always interweave it. But in terms of like the situations I think specifically that I would avoid it is, you know things like if you have a respiratory condition, do these kind of interventions in consultation with whoever your caregiver is, and make sure they approve that it is safe for you to do so.

Jeremy   13:36

Oren  13:36
If you have any kind of vocal injury, do the same work with your, your caregiving team to build these interventions, if that is something they think is appropriate for you. I think it’s just very much about knowing when it’s okay to just stop and consult somebody if that is the case of some kind of medical illness or issue for kind of like the normal kind of person that is just generally kind of practising and trying to build their voice and that kind of thing. For me, it is very much again, task dependent. If the task warrants and is complemented by a straw phonation intervention, then great. If it’s going to have no effect and it’s just not going to be useful. Or having the additional backpressure is gonna confuse somebody’s ability to be to proprioceptively be aware of what’s going on in their body, don’t do them. So yeah, it’s a tricky, there’s a lot of components to what’s relatively a simple question, actually.

Jeremy   14:51
Yeah, very interesting.

Gillyanne Kayes  14:53
I’d like to chip in here. Now. I certainly had one client who eventually was diagnosed with a cyst. And once we knew she was diagnosed, what I wanted to do, because I have a good knowledge of vocal function was just improve her voice use generally before she had the – before she had the operation. And I did check with a speech therapist about whether it was appropriate to work with anyone at all preoperatively. And she said yes, and we did try straw phonation. And she wasn’t comfortable with it. However, doing the active SOVT with the puffy cheeks and a very slightly breathy sound, worked really well for her. And she was able to go on and finish her degree, she’s had the operation and she’s recovered really nicely. So that’s one share.

Jeremy   15:44
I know we mentioned, we mentioned Parkinson’s very briefly on the course and we are not Parkinson’s experts by any means. I had a look on the Parkinson’s website and I can put the link in the show notes. And when they talk about straws, they tend to talk about straws being used for drinking. And on some Parkinson’s patients they are actually recommended but there is a sort of proviso and it says Be wary of straws: straws are useful when someone has severe tremors or dyskinesias. But can put too much liquid too far back into the mouth too quickly before the airway has a chance to close. Try to keep a straw only at the front of your tongue. Now this is for drinking. So it’s very much the inhalatory or in whatever it is ingesting stuff,

Unknown Speaker  16:31
If we have a neural functioning problem.

Jeremy   16:33
Well, this is the thing this just reading a bit about it, there are two things that I picked up from the website. One is that the swallowing muscles start to not react as you would want them to. And the other is that you start to lose sensation in there and both of those for me a little warning signs about using the passive SOVT but it doesn’t mean that the active SOVT which is voice fricatives and stuff like that are problematic.

Gillyanne Kayes  17:04
I think it would be great if we could hear from Nicola Wydenbach.

Jeremy   17:08
Absolutely, yes.

Gillyanne Kayes  17:09
Because she is part of the Sing to Beat [Parkinsons] organisation.

Oren  17:14
Very interesting.

Gillyanne Kayes  17:14
So do give us some comments. Nicola, we’d love to hear from you.

Jeremy   17:17

Gillyanne Kayes  17:19
I just want to pick up on two things that Jackie said, because I think it’d be very helpful for people who are working with teenage girls, because I know a lot of Jackie’s clients are in that bracket. It smoothes out transitions. Now something that I found out from one of my speech therapy friends, is that using straws and bubbles, actually helps to release vocal fold pressing, and just to allow the cricothyroid mechanism to kick in, so that as we go through the transition that can happen more smoothly. So she was advising me with a particular client, Oh, do straws and bubbles, because then their CT mechanism will kick in. So that’s a kind of a byproduct I’ve heard about. That might be why the transitions got smoothed. And unwanted breathiness. Now I’ve used that in master classes, I think with one of the girls in our Mastering Musical Theatre, and I did something in AOTOS

You did

And I did quite young girls. And I remember I was working with a girl who was singing a Cesar Franck’s Panis Angelicus. And I think she was about 12 or 13. Nice little singer. But you could hear air escaping all the time and of course the poor girl was running out of breath. And I took a bit of a risk and I think I use quite a narrow straw. It might have been a five millimetre in water. And just you know, aiming for it to be nice and smooth. And you know what, then when we took it out the water and she sang it. vocal folds together. Nice sound.

Oren  19:00

Gillyanne Kayes  19:01
So have you had other people say that they’ve had good results with that?

Oren  19:07
Yeah, absolutely. For breathiness. I think it’s, it’s wonderful. And it this is really interesting, because actually, you’ve had very possibly the opposite results from what you would expected from the type of straw configuration that you were using. I did a couple of months ago now. Titze did a kind of like workshop lecture type thing. And for us, it was something ridiculous. It was like two o’clock in the morning. But I did it and it was fantastic. And one of the things he was talking about was for breathiness, in particular, it might be more beneficial to use a slightly wider, less resistant straw to match the glottal impedance. that the breathiness is as a result of. Because if you overload to begin with sure you’re going to be probably pushing and pulling and bringing things back into alignment. But there’s still that mismatch of back pressure versus glottal impedance, which might need to be managed first to, to fix that, and then start building in the kind of will go back to the more athletic side of that kind of training, which is interesting.

Gillyanne Kayes  20:31
So what we’re saying is that, because in terms of global impedance, we haven’t got very efficient closure, rather than overloading it with something external? Because this worked so well. And I’ve done it several times.

Oren  20:49
Yeah, yeah. Well, so what was kind of generated as a result of those discussions within the workshop was Titze believed at least on breathier sounds, there is less glottal impedance. Which means if we’re using a straw that matches that glottal impedance at the lower level, which would be a wider, narrower straw, we’re optimising that system initially. So we’re matching. And then you can start incrementing to higher resistances, just to bring things to where you want them to be. But initially, when you match that lower resistance setting, you’re still going to be getting the efficiency of closure as a result of some back pressure above. I just thought was super interesting. And it’s a really cool application

Gillyanne Kayes  21:45
Something to play with

Oren  21:45
For sure.

Gillyanne Kayes  21:47
Okay, lovely.

Jeremy   21:48
And I want to this is very interesting, because this is sort of underlying thing in several of the questions, and you’re sort of saying you keep mentioning this in passing, and I want to really bring it front and centre, which is task specific. Yeah. Because something that’s underlying the questions that I’ve seen, and we’ve got lots of them still to go. is, what is the ideal thing for this sound? What is the ideal thing for this person? What is the ideal setup? And it seems to me that people are really looking for “the perfect balance”. And my immediate question is, FOR WHAT?

Gillyanne Kayes  22:22
We don’t have those answers, we will only ever have a set of answers, I think, what do you think Oren?

Oren  22:30
I completely agree, it would be impossible, and it would be a great injustice for us to say, “Okay, take a wide straw, put it in water and that is amazing for belting.” Don’t use this clip out of context – it’s not true! It’s an injustice.

Gillyanne Kayes  22:35
I’ve tried that, it doesn’t work

Oren  22:50
Right. It has to be, you know, it has to be that relationship. Sorry, sorry.

Jeremy   22:57
So in that case, because I actually know that we’re on this

Gillyanne Kayes  23:00
Let’s go to the big voice singer next.

Jeremy   23:01
Okay. Yes, Franka’s question.

Gillyanne Kayes  23:03
This is relevant to Franka’s question.

Jeremy   23:05
Which is, just bear with me while I find it

Gillyanne Kayes  23:07
That’s on Speakpipe isn’t it?

Jeremy   23:09
Right, this one

Franka  23:11
And my third question is about classical singers who have quite a heavy voice. I had one particular case here in my own studio, where after she had used the Lax Vox bubbling, actually, the complete closure of her folds was just gone. It sounded very weak, and there was hardly any resonance. So something is happening on closure level. And I’m just completely lost there. So maybe you guys can shine some light on that.

Gillyanne Kayes  23:49
Oh, my God, you had a huge Aha. Thank you, Franka. But you go first, Oren.

Oren  23:56
Um, I need those bullet points again.

Jeremy   24:00
Okay. Using the Lax Vox bubbling as a classical singer with a heavy voice.

Oren  24:06
Uh huh.

Jeremy   24:07
She did the Lax Vox bubbling. And then her she could not close the vocal folds. completely gone. So there was no closure. She sounded very weak. Go on Go on Gillyanne.

Gillyanne Kayes  24:18
It’s just like Oren said, If she’s a classical singer with a heavy voice, she’s going to have very efficient glottal impedance. Yeah. And suddenly, she’s introduced into Lax Vox, which is great for relaxation for a singer in that situation. As an experienced singer, she would have tried to replicate the sensation that she normally has blowing down that wider tube getting this massive, massive sort of back pressure feedback, and it would have caused the vocal folds to be more open. Yeah, I actually I’m not going to demonstrate and I actually tried it with an aria and I was so uncomfortable doing it.

Jeremy   25:02
And I want to come back to something that we said earlier, which is I say get the balance with the straw right first and then sing

Oren  25:09

Jeremy   25:09
Because if you try and maintain your singing while you sing down the straw, you’re messing things up.

Gillyanne Kayes  25:17
My other thought was this, which is that you’ve the straw in water, it actually changes the acoustic environment that the singer is used to. And you know, we get this feedback loop, don’t we from the auditory cortex and an experienced singer is very used to working with that. She would have been trying to replicate the same feeling. Yeah. And that would have given that overload that you’ve just described so well by Titze. And advice would be Franka for her maybe get her to do a little messa di voce on different straws to find out what feels like the right impedance and if it’s any use to her. Maybe sing like humming to yourself and then vocalising down the straw like that, and then building the volume bit by bit. That’s how I would experiment if I wanted to use straws to maximise the efficiency of a singer in that situation.

Oren  26:17
Absolutely, yeah. And it’s, I mean, I don’t think I’m, I don’t need to be here anymore. Um, I’ve got nothing to add. No.

Gillyanne Kayes  26:24

Oren  26:25
No no no, it’s really good. It’s really, really good. It’s really good.

Gillyanne Kayes  26:27
You’ve fired us up!

Oren  26:29
SOVT the workshop, part two, that’s all you guys. No, it’s really good. And I think just coming onto that as well, I probably wouldn’t do any water based exercises with this particular setup. Setup/person, I would work more on having the DC consistent loading, I would definitely play about with the material properties of the straw that you’re working with. If it’s the kind of resonance in the acoustic stuff that is a big feedback for this person, it probably would be more beneficial to work with a device that is going to allow those sounds to propagate. Again, the Lax Vox in the water isn’t going to allow that, something like a shiny plastic or stainless steel will, which might give those auditory cues back which would trick the body into going Oh, yeah, no, I’m used to this now. This is fine. So yes, play about with it.

Gillyanne Kayes  27:39
I think I think the other thing, I mean, I’m so interested now about what you said with regard to Titze. But you know, one of the exercises that you showed us in the workshops is very simple, really, which is you breathe out, and then you breathe out into the straw. And then you breathe out and you vocalise, and then you breathe out and you vocalise into the straw, whenever you blow into the straw, it is not exactly the same as without the straw. So I, that seems to me like a real SOVT 101, we shouldn’t be aiming to feel exactly the same. The point of the passive resistance is to give us feedback, isn’t it? Is that to rebalance?

Oren  28:23
Yes, it’s interesting. Some things you want to be feeling the same or similar, some things are impossible to feel in the same way, the effects of the environment induced by the pressure is basically impossible to replicate without having that pressure system there causing those expanse, the expansions of the vocal tract spaces and that kind of thing. I’m sure you can get a likeness for it. I don’t think we have enough anatomical control of the mechanisms that we need to really feel the expansion that you feel when you have this pressure system. However, things like the efficiency or the sensation of what’s happening in the lungs, and the efforts and energies you’re putting into those sounds, I think are very replicable and

Gillyanne Kayes  29:28
And the abdominal wall which most of us worry about. That’s a positive, isn’t it?

Jeremy   29:32
Yeah. Yeah, I think because it was something that we said very early on on Saturday, any SOVT technique, any at all will give you feedback. But it won’t do the job for you there is still an active thing that you need to do, which is to pay attention and change what you do.

Oren  29:53

Jeremy   29:54
And I think people are relying too much on I’m singing down the straw and therefore it will solve all my problems for me. It’ll go make the tea, it will give me a winning lottery ticket. And I don’t think it happens like that, well I know it doesn’t happen like that, because I haven’t got my winning lottery ticket yet. Must be doing it wrong. It’s more about you get the feedback. It’s a brilliant feedback tool. Brilliant. And also, when you’re doing straws in water, that’s a brilliant visual feedback tool

Gillyanne Kayes  30:20
It’s also very useful therapeutic tool. Yeah, because of the massage effect.

Jeremy   30:24
And there is something that you know, when you’re when we’re talking about rebalancing, what you’re doing in whatever genre you are in, in whatever vocal fold mode you are in, anything like that. It’s still up to you to pay attention consciously, and then change as necessary. And usually the change is back off a bit. Because actually, your vocal folds are now working more efficiently and you don’t need to work that hard.

Gillyanne Kayes  30:48
Listen to your proprioceptors.

Jeremy   30:49
Yes. Those that you have. Yes.

Gillyanne Kayes  30:52
Shall we go to another speakpipe? Which is Carrie’s question.

Jeremy   30:56
Which one is this? The first one? Yeah, yes.

Gillyanne Kayes  30:59
This is, erm

Jeremy   31:00
Okay. Yeah.

Gillyanne Kayes  31:01
Well, we’re having fun Oren I hope you are.

Oren  31:03
Yeah, absolutely.

Jeremy   31:05
This is Carrie Birmingham.

Unknown Speaker  31:09
Hi, there Gillyanne, Jeremy and Oren, this is Carrie. I really enjoyed Saturday’s session on the SOVT straw and looking at all the research behind it from the modelling that Oren has been doing. And yes, I was interested in finding out more about everyone’s opinion working with the SOVT and straw exercises for M2, so in a thinner vocal setup. And just as within a lot of the different practices I’ve seen with straws in recent years, I’ve often come across many practitioners or coaches, saying that they don’t feel it’s as beneficial for the thinner muscle position. So be great to know how, as teachers, we can maybe access this part of the voice more easily with the use of straws. Thank you

Gillyanne Kayes  31:58
She’s talking about going into mechanism 2 which we can loosely call falsetto or head voice in female,

Jeremy   32:05
I just want to unpack this one because I think there’s something quite interesting in there, we have a take on M1 and M2, we do workshops on M1 and M2. And for us, M1 (modal) is the vocal fold, all the layers are vibrating together, and particularly the muscle is switched on. And the muscle is active

Gillyanne Kayes  32:29
In vibration

Jeremy   32:29
In vibration into the muscle switches off and is therefore not part of the vibration. And it’s just the upper layers. And interestingly, you can have an adducted M2 which is a clear M2 and you can have an abducted M2 which is a breathy M2.

Gillyanne Kayes  32:46
And the same with M1

Jeremy   32:46
And the same with M1.

Gillyanne Kayes  32:48
And that’s Christian Herbst.

Jeremy   32:50
So in a way, she’s almost saying two things in this question, I am going to go with our position, which is it’s not a thinner muscle position. It’s actually a position where the muscle is switched off.

Gillyanne Kayes  33:01
I think the clearer thing, the clearest thing that she said was that she was talking about M2, she did specify it was M2. Do you want to pitch in there Oren anything that you’ve found anything that’s been said in the research?

Oren  33:18
Yeah. What’s interesting is I there’s a couple, there’s two components to this. In a way, it’s the do the people that are teaching this have a good enough understanding of what’s going on? And has that fed back to her in kind of the phrasing of the question, or is it well, and is it you know, there’s there is obviously that some expert exploration to be done of the efficiencies of the technique for the mechanism that she’s specifically targeting? I think I don’t see any reason why SOVT interventions aren’t beneficial for M2. If you think about what’s happening in terms of how air and the pressures and everything is rebalancing, there’s no reason why we can’t rebalance in whatever state the vocal folds are in. And again, I suppose that comes back down to its task dependent

Jeremy   34:23
It is

Oren  34:24
And you just find a configuration that works for that what a good benefit of SOVT, obviously, is to push and pull and to bring the top into alignment and so sure that’s going to be pretty beneficial here. So then that kind of thing goes back to I think, potentially, it’s an issue with that kind of tertiary knowledge of maybe these teachers that this has been passed down through, don’t quite understand how to use these techniques in relation to.. I’ve got to be very careful. The task I’d have to be careful.

Jeremy   35:01
You really don’t

Gillyanne Kayes  35:03
To be quite honest. I’m on the same page.

Jeremy   35:07
Me too.

Oren  35:07

Gillyanne Kayes  35:08
If they don’t understand the vocal function, they’re not going to be able to purpose the straw to the task.

Oren  35:14

Gillyanne Kayes  35:14
My guess is that this is the this is a thing. I mean, I have not found that you can’t use straws to optimise mechanism 2. The only thing I would say is if the mechanism 2 is very abducted, then that could be an issue. We know that in mechanism to that we still do get a bottom to top action if we’re adducted. And therefore I can’t see any reason why straw phonation wouldn’t improve that.

Jeremy   35:52
Me too

Gillyanne Kayes  35:53
And certainly, I found in practice, as we just discussed with Jackie’s question that if the M2 is a bit abducted, if you get the right width of straw, yeah, that will help you to adduct.

Jeremy   36:05
And likewise, if you’re doing a gentle, very gentle M1, if you’re doing a very fine, neat, gentle M1, then that’s you know, SOVT is still going to work for that, it’s task related. So if you want an exercise that will give you very, very strong clear, you know, heavy duty M1, then do an exercise for that and get that balance. And if you want to much fine and neater, slightly higher up the range, very clear, M1, do an exercise for that. And if you want to go into clear M2 do an exercise for that. Yes, the idea that, you know, one exercise fits everything. And you know, our by byline is one size doesn’t fit all. Yeah, yeah. It’s the same. It’s exactly this task related thing.

Oren  36:49
For sure. I think it’s also SOVT exercises and interventions don’t force a change in vibration, it’s not going to change the mechanism, the way the vocal folds are vibrating. What it’s going to do instead is create efficiencies within that whole process.

Jeremy   37:13
I have just flashed Oren a WOW card, because I have been saying this for ages, which is the SOVT stuff will have impact on how the vocal folds meet, it will have impact on back pressure, it will have impact on flow, but it won’t have impact on the way your vocal folds vibrate, the mode you’re in. That’s a choice.

Gillyanne Kayes  37:34
It’s not changing the input. It’s changing the output but not the input. Would you say that?

Oren  37:38

Jeremy   37:39
yeah, yeah.

Gillyanne Kayes  37:40
So you’ve got to understand vocal function. So in a way carry the short answer that question is, I don’t know why that would be because we have not found this.

Jeremy   37:50
No, not at all

Gillyanne Kayes  37:52
I hope that helps us. Okay, now, I’m just conscious that Oren has to disappear at three and we could be enjoying ourselves for ages. But what should we,

Jeremy   38:03
I’d like to I’d like to do Lorraine’s. Lorraine sent us a very, very long question was nearly three minutes long. So I have edited it. Apologies, Lorraine

Gillyanne Kayes  38:11
Sorry Lorraine. Time is limited.

Jeremy   38:14
This is the shorter version.

Lorraine  38:15
Hi, Lorraine Morley here. How is best to use this straw. Do you use it like Dizzy Gillespie uses the trumpet and get as much air into your cheeks or into your mouth cavity as possible. therefore reducing the lower muscle activities? Or do you know, it looks as if it works if you use thoracic breathing or, you know, accent type breathing? So lower abdominals, obliques, intercostals. How is it best to get that diaphragm sort of doing what you want it to? On the right effort levels? Is it more about what’s going on at the larynx level and therefore, do we not put so much effort into it?

Jeremy   39:08
There you go.

Gillyanne Kayes  39:08
So I think to summarise she’s asking how can it impact on breath management? Hmm.

Jeremy   39:16
Yeah, I mean, interestingly, do you because if you’ve ever seen images of Dizzy Gillespie, playing the guitar, the cheeks are out like very thin balloons. I mean, they are literally

Gillyanne Kayes  39:26
It’s the trumpet Jeremy.

Jeremy   39:27
Did I say bassoon? I said bassoon didn’t I? I said guitar.

Gillyanne Kayes  39:29
No you said guitar!

Jeremy   39:29
Yeah. Oh, I’m not listening to myself when I’m talking.

Gillyanne Kayes  39:34
We need a tea break.

Jeremy   39:35
That’s a terrible admission for a podcast host. I’m just not listening to myself.

Gillyanne Kayes  39:38
That was a corker.

Jeremy   39:40
So when he plays the trumpet, you see the cheeks come out, like really thin balloons and they are out three or four inches. I mean, they’re huge. And so the question is, first of all, is that what we’re supposed to be doing?

Oren  39:54
Yes or no. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t. It’s the same with the puffy cheeks like you can do puffy cheeks without a straw, as we even spoke about earlier, you can do puffy cheeks with a straw. I personally, don’t find puffy cheeks with a straw. I just hate it for me personally, because it’s very hard, you have to have a consistent flow rate. Yeah, there is no way of stopping that flow. Because obviously, you’re puffing up the cheeks, you’re creating that pressurisation, which is encouraging this flow. And because there is a hole, the air is always going to move through. So for me, personally, I don’t enjoy it. I know several trainers that use puffy cheeks with SOVT. I know several students and clients that used to puffy cheeks or their SOVT, and it’s great for them. So that is one of those if it works for you. And if you find it useful kind of things. I’ve had feedback that doing the puffy cheeks is great for kind of relaxing everything and getting rid of potentially some tensions that you might otherwise have. Again, I don’t experience that. So it’s very this very much this experiential kind of thing, at least in the puffy cheeks side of things.

Gillyanne Kayes  41:17
I can’t imagine using puffy cheeks and a straw out of water. In water with something like the Doctor Vox, yes, I often do find Yeah, just thinking about…

Oren  41:32
I know

Gillyanne Kayes  41:33
No, that’s not comfortable for me

Oren  41:38
Yeah. See, I have done it before where I’ve had the puffy cheeks. And I’ve been able to get a little bit higher than I might have expected.

Gillyanne Kayes  41:46

Oren  41:46
But I think it’s to do with the way we’re now re pressurising and balancing things. It’s Yes, we’re creating a back pressure here. But we’re also creating a forward pressure in the cheeks, which is then impacting on the back pressure. I personally don’t know enough about it to comment more than that, because I just don’t like it.

Gillyanne Kayes  42:07
So active and passive forms together,

Jeremy   42:10
that’s the pushmi-pullyu and my thought is why bother. Why not just stop doing both of them?

Gillyanne Kayes  42:15
you need jolly good breath control to do that I can tell you

Jeremy   42:18
The interesting thing about the Dizzy Gillespie thing is that as a trumpeter, you actually have vibrating lips in order to make the sound. So you are making a raspberry down down the trumpet, and therefore you have on off on off on off on off. And also, if you’re going to play really high, there’s a lot of a lot of back pressure because your lips are so tight. And I think that’s the reason that the cheeks came up. I know when I played the oboe my neck used to swell up for a similar reason. I have to say, I don’t understand why you would do that. But I’m I don’t teach that.

Gillyanne Kayes  42:49
So anybody listening uses it. I mean, you know, interact with us they can they put comments on the podcast?

Jeremy   42:56
the YouTube channel certainly. I think on Apple podcasts, you can do reviews. Basically…

Gillyanne Kayes  43:03
Or send us an email, let us know. We want to know

Jeremy   43:06
Let us know. And then we the second bit of it, which was how, is the emphasis on breathing? Or is the emphasis on larynx level? And how do you kick all of these muscles in?

Oren  43:18
Well, depends what you want to do. If you want to focus on getting a good awareness and training of breathing, then absolutely, you can do it unvoiced and you can work through breathing stuff. I think the best things for that are those bursts of breath, they kind of are you can probably hear my squeaky chair squeaking as I do that.

Jeremy   43:41
So they are 4 little short burst of air one after another. Yeah.

Oren  43:46
You can, I like to do 4 short breaths, and then 2 sustains so you can kind of feel the difference. And it’s a heightened awareness of everything happening kind of here downwards. So I think breathing and for being very aware of how the systems and muscles move, it is a fantastic awareness thing. When you do it without sound, when you add the sound, I think then probably becomes a bit more of a combination with potentially more of an awareness towards the larynx level. But yeah, there’s no reason why you can’t do both or interchange or work exclusively depending on what you’re hoping to feel and achieve.

Jeremy   44:35
I’m right back on the task again.

Oren  44:37
it’s everything it’s always task, task, task

Jeremy   44:39
because I mean, just with the ones that you’ve demonstrated, if I do if I do with the air blasts and I can really feel my abdominal wall kicking in and I can feel pressure up here. If I then add voice that’s WAY too much pressure for my voice,way too much.

Gillyanne Kayes  45:03
Yeah, if you’re wanting to activate, you know, a bit of abdominal work, then it could be useful also remember blowing into water because you can see those levels if you do intermittent bubbles, and then one long bubble.

Oren  45:17

Gillyanne Kayes  45:17
That’s a very good way to train the breathing muscles for want of a better word

Jeremy   45:22
The other thing is, I mean, if you as a singer, it depends on what style you’re singing. And therefore what you want your sound to do, and what you want your breath capacity to do. And I mean, if you’re singing Bellini Arias, or Handel Arias, where the breath control is immense, and you have to sing extremely long phrases very, very smoothly, then you’re going to want to work on the whole back muscles. If you’re doing, you know, short belty bursts, then you’re not gonna want to hold back. So it’s, you know, what, what sounds do you want to make? What’s the situation? How long is the phrase? what’s the what’s the music style, it’s still context specific.

Gillyanne Kayes  46:01
So Lorraine I hope you’ve got some pointers there that you can use with your students and your singers, your choir singers. So I’m just gonna crack the whip. I know we could talk more. I wondered. Could we each do a top tip about SOVT? What would yours be? Oren?

Oren  46:32
I mean, it’s gonna be really annoying for me to repeat this, but focus on the blooming task in front of you.

Jeremy   46:39
Damn, you’ve taken mine. That was going to be mine!

Gillyanne Kayes  46:44
Okay, and mine is really very similar to something you said earlier, which is do it without the straw, do it with the straw. Yeah, purpose and exercise around that task. Without the straw with the straw in water out of water. Make a note of it. Make a note of what happens, get feedback from the student,

Jeremy   47:03
I’m going to take both of yours and say, whatever you do it consciously. Basically pay attention to any changes that you feel any differences that you feel any rebalances that you feel and then make some decisions.

Oren  47:16
Mine seems overly aggressive now in comparison to those but it’s passionate.

Jeremy   47:22
Not at all. No, I would have worded it exactly that. But you took the words right out of my mouth

Gillyanne Kayes  47:26
You’re absolutely right. Because the thing is, it’s inevitable. You know, people have this thing. And it’s so exciting. You know, we all know about it now. And actually, what we want to know next is what are we going to do with it. And I’m afraid it’s inevitable that people want something

Jeremy   47:41

Gillyanne Kayes  47:41
specific fixed concrete that they can rely on.

Jeremy   47:44
This combination does this thing

Gillyanne Kayes  47:46
And good on them for wanting to do the right thing by their students. But the truth is that singing is a lot more varied than that.

Jeremy   47:55
Well, in order to do the right thing by their students, they have to experiment, because you have to work with the person in front of you, you have to work with the person in the room.

Gillyanne Kayes  48:03
That’s what singing teaching is all about

It is

Using your ears and your eyes. And listening to what your student has to say about their experience. Okay, little promos. Oren, you know, you have a product obviously, which we’ve talked about a lot today.

Jeremy   48:20
You have the online… well you have the SOVT straw

Gillyanne Kayes  48:23
just quickly tell us

Jeremy   48:24
So the SOVT straw and your online course. Yeah.

Oren  48:26
Yes. So the SOVT straw, we’ve demoed it quite a bit today, it’s basically just a variable resistance device that has, I’m saying loosely a minimum of 12 settings because actually, it’s it’s infinitely variable anywhere in between, but it’s like 12, that you can accurately go Okay, this is here and it’s reliable each time. And it’s Yeah, it’s a little bit of it’s my, it’s been my baby lately. And it’s there’s some cool things to come, we’re just getting set to release some brand new attachments that are going to change the functionality to offer even more variety for whatever task you might want to do with it. And then obviously, the streaming course, that is it’s a standalone piece, but it’s they’re quite complimentary to each other. It’s about two and a half hours long. And it kind of goes into a lot of the sciency detail relating to straw phonation and what SOVT in general, and I’m getting set to release a pretty big update to it. I’m kind of gonna go and refilm some stuff, expand on some of the things I’ve spoken about with the new research that I’m doing. So yeah, it’s pretty cool.

Gillyanne Kayes  49:42
Excellent. And we’ve got

Jeremy   49:45
our featured resource today is the SOVT Workshop that we’ve just done, which we’re going to be doing again. We’ve got a date

Gillyanne Kayes  49:53
28th of February

28 of February

I think it’s the last day of February. I don’t think it’s a leap year next year

Jeremy   49:58

Gillyanne Kayes  49:59
So it’s a Sunday. And our usual time is 10am to 12 noon GMT

10am to 12 noon British time

So it’s a it’s a two hour session, Oren will be our guests tutor on that together with us

Jeremy   50:13
and we’ll interrupt, try and stop us.

Gillyanne Kayes  50:16
Yeah. We’ll be working on practical as well as just understanding enough of the theory that we know how to purpose exercises.

Jeremy   50:24
Yes. So I’m looking forward to that. And thank you Oren that’s been brilliant.

Oren  50:30
Thank you for having me back again to talk about all these cool nerdy sciency things

Jeremy   50:34
Very good.

Gillyanne Kayes  50:36
it’s a pleasure I think lots of people will really enjoy this podcast.

Jeremy   50:39
So thank you very much. And we’ll see for the next one.

Gillyanne Kayes  50:42
Here comes the jingle.

Announcer  50:55
This is a verse, a podcast with Dr. Gillyanne Kayes and Jeremy Fisher.