How can a straw make us better singers? Oren Boder is an award-winning singing teacher, voice researcher, entrepreneur, and inventor of the SOVT Singing Straw. Oren joins Alexa this week on Singing Teachers Talk to tell us what SOVT is, how it works, and how it can help us as singing teachers.
- Semi-Occluded Vocal Tract (SOVT) means there is some sort of narrowing somewhere along the vocal tract, which is anywhere from the vocal cords to the lips.
- Semi-occluded vocal tract: Say the OO /u/, V /v/, Z /z/, J /ʤ/, or M /m/ sounds – notice how your lips and/or teeth come together to shape the sound. This also happens with a lip or a tongue trill – the airflow is “semi” closed off to make a sound.
- Fully closed vocal tract: Close your mouth and purse your lips together. Your vocal tract is closed (except for your nasal passage for breathing).
- SOVT exercises can improve the conditions inside the throat as your vocal cords are vibrating. They do this by neutralising the pressure that is coming up from the lungs. When you have a semi-occluded vocal tract, some of the airflow is blocked from exiting the mouth, because your lips and/or teeth are closing off the airflow as you say “OO”, “ZZ”, “VV”, etc. This airflow is reflected back towards the vocal cords and pushes back against the vocal cords from the top. This pushing from the top will balance out the pressure that is being pushed up from below from the lungs, and this allows your vocal cords to vibrate more efficiently (not too pressed or strained, not too breathy).
- cmH2O is a pressure unit that is mostly used to measure breathing on respirators and ventilators which are used in medical and physiological applications such as controlling respiratory conditions or monitoring athletic performance.
‘It’s like a Swiss army knife of techniques’
‘We never want to train in the extreme because we don’t want to be under loading or overloading our voice’
‘We can get a minimum of 40 resistance configurations from one device, it can be infinite’
‘The products we have designed have been designed by an aerospace engineer’
Relevant Links & Mentions:
Singing Through A Straw Can Make You An Awesome Singer by Oren Boder
Singing Teachers Talk: Episode 30 – Clearing the Brain Fog with John Henny: Covid-19, Acoustics, Passive Income & The Teaching Triangle
Balloon Activity for Maximum Threshold Pressure (MPT) (shared by Chris Johnson with credit to Kerrie Obert)
ABOUT THE GUEST
Oren is an award-winning singing teacher, voice researcher, entrepreneur, and inventor of the SOVT Singing Straw, and is proudly supported by both the Prince’s Trust and Virgin Startup. Oren believes in enriching lives through the arts, and through the pursuit of meaningful science, develops innovative tools and resources to help singers enhance and improve their vocal development, health, and wellbeing, whilst also having an impact on the universe.
Oren’s journey started at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, where he trained in singing and vocal technique, as well as studying internationally in Holland in collaboration with the London College of Music, and then with New York Vocal Coaching (NYVC). Oren also holds a degree in Psychology. His current pedagogical focus is on researching and developing vocal development tools and techniques that involve singing through straws, using state of the art computer simulations to explore the interactions of airflow and air pressures of different straw types and their effects on the voice.