Singing Through a Straw: Does it work?
Posted Monday, April 26th 2021 by David McCall
It's true - a straw can be your greatest singing tool yet!
You've probably heard about using a straw to boost your singing and speaking skills, and if you haven't it may sound ludicrous. Yet there are actual, well-researched reasons singing through a straw can help.
1. The narrow straw keeps you from exhaling as quickly or forcefully. Go ahead and try to push out a lot of air through a small straw! Less exhale means there's less breath pressure being exerted on your vocal folds.
Simply put, our vocal folds react to increasing breath pressure by thickening. Think of how you might brace yourself when you feel heavy bursts of wind. Your body will probably tense and lean into the wind to stay upright. The vocal folds react similarly on a much smaller scale.
Less breath pressure gives you more control over your voice. Your vocal folds will be thinner and more pliable - and those high notes will soar out of you much more freely!
2. Singing through a straw helps you feel more resonance in your head and face instead of in your throat. You may feel as though your voice is resonating, or vibrating, in your face, cheeks, nose, or middle of your head. Everyone feels the sensations in a slightly different place, but the consensus is that the throat feels much more free.
This sensation won't last forever. Keep your straw handy for when you notice your voice slipping back down toward your throat. And no cheating! To get the full benefit of the straw make sure no air is escaping your nose or the sides of your mouth.
3. Straw singing allows you to focus on the sensations of singing. There are no words to forget and no audience to entertain. There's just you and your voice.
Put on your laboratory coat and gather information: What does it feel like to sing without the straw? How does the straw change how it feels to sing high, low, sustained, staccato, etc? What does it feel like to sing after using the straw?
It doesn't really matter what you sing through the straw - sirens, scales, or the melody to some favorite songs. Regardless of what you sing, how you sing will be freer and more resonant thanks to taking the time to sing through a straw.
Ingo R. Titze, Executive Director of The National Center for Voice and Speech
Ingo R. Titze's Vocal Straw Exercise
Senior Voice Teacher, Head of Vocal Development
David has become one of the leading instructors of Contemporary Voice in New York City, with clients ranging from Broadway singers (Billy Elliot, Matilda), Classical and sacred music singers, cantors in New York City Synagogues, to Professional Rock and Pop artists, some of which have toured and been signed to record contracts, appeared on shows like The Voice and American Idol, and performed at venues such as SXSW. Additionally, David has taught as a Master Teacher of Contemporary Voice for the NYSTA Comparative Vocal Pedagogy series.
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