In this post, I'm going to introduce you to a brand new type of vocal exercises I've developed using a balloon, an alternate to the straw phonation exercises created by voice scientist Dr. Ingo Titze. Watch the embedded video demonstration I just published, featuring my friend Mark Thress.
How Balloon Exercises Were DevelopedVocal coach Mark Thress, with whom I exchange classical and contemporary vocal lessons, introduced me to straw phonation using a cocktail (small diameter) straw. I found these quite useful in encouraging more breath efficiency, as long as I pulled back as I blew forward. Neither one of us prefer using a bigger straw.
After working with the small straw for a few weeks, I started wondering what effect using a balloon instead of the straw would be. So I bought a package of assorted small balloons and started experimenting on my own, then with Mark, then with students. I found that most of us preferred and benefitted from the balloon instead of the straw!
Balloon vs Straw Comparisons:
- I believe they are both SOVT exercises.
"SOVT exercises lengthen the vocal tract and narrow the opening, creating increased acoustic back pressure that helps the vocal folds vibrate more easily."
- The balloon is stretchy, the straw is stiff.
- The balloon requires that less breath pressure be used than the straw.
- 'Pulling' up and back while using the balloon also opens and relaxes the throat.
- Most prefer the small size of both straw and balloon.
- Both the straw and balloon can be used with any scale or song melody.
- Both the straw and balloon are useful for both the singing and speaking voice. Speakers can just exercise by sirens or slurs throughout all registers of the voice.
Gratitude for the StrawI want to take a moment and state how grateful I am for the genius of Dr. Titze in developing his straw phonation exercises. They have been instrumental in many a singer and speaker's vocal healing, and this in no way diminishes my utmost respect for them. I humbly offer this alternative exercise protocol to the voice community with full understanding that without the straw, the balloon would never have come to mind!
I need your input!
- Will you try the balloon? If so,
- What was your experience with balloon exercises?
- What questions do you have about doing them?
- What suggestions would you make?