Friday 5 Vocal Health For Music Therapists

By September 1, 2017Friday Five

Happy Friday!

Based on responses to last the last Friday 5, it seems that vocal health has struck a…ahem…cord? 😃 It seems to be a challenge many of us face. Some of you wrote back sharing your own experiences and tips. Here are what some other MT’s had to say, plus a couple other vocal health-related tidbits. Please note that ALL THREE stories mentioned seeing an ENT or speech therapist, so if you are experiencing vocal issues, definitely consult with a professional.  Also, remember that you never have to miss a Friday 5 when you sign up for the emails.

Story Numero Uno
Hey Matt,

Regarding vocal health, I recently attended the Contemporary Commercial Music Institute at Shenandoah University in Virginia. Two of the individuals on the panel were Marci Daniels Rosenberg and Wendy LeBorge. They are speech pathologists/vocal coaches. In a nutshell, they both recommend Semi-Occluded Vocal Tract exercises (SOVT) to address several areas: warming up, but especially COOLing down the voice, addressing vocal fatigue, and for overall vocal health. SOVT are exercises that limit the full release of breath: using a 5-note vocal slide or glide (do/re/mi/fa/so) and humming on “m”, humming on “ng”, singing through a straw (NOT a coffee stirrer straw), doing vocal slides into cupped hands, etc. These exercises give the vocal tract a little massage, directing the unexpressed air back down the tract. They use these exercises clinically when treating individuals with vocal pathologies, and they are absolutely applicable for promoting general vocal health. And when done appropriately  they are better for healing a voice with strain than complete vocal rest (per a study they mentioned at the institute but whose citation I currently can’t find).
I recommend their book, The Vocal Athlete, for MTs for use for their own vocal health, and also when working with clients. Incidentally, I also highly recommend attending the institute. Outstanding, period.
And on a personal note, I find that acupuncture helps tremendously with inflammation, immune system function, fatigue, and dehydration (among all the things it also addresses, haha!)
Anyway, hope this helps.

Erin Haley

Story Two
Re Vocal Health: Had weeks of subtle throat pain/ache and finally went to the ENT who sent me to an SLP who specializes in singers — in three sessions she was able to analyze my technique, give me specific exercises to improve it and walk me through songs I use in MT sessions to show me how I can use my voice more efficiently in them. If the vocal issues seem to be enduring/chronic issue, I highly recommend searching out an SLP who is also a singer so they can more specifically meet your needs.

Kaitlyn Meier

Story Three
As for voice loss- I have had issues with this as well, some pretty intense ones that I ended up going to see an ENT… and found out that when I speak, I am not using my voice correctly, but when I sing I do. So I am having to “re-learn” how to speak using my singing techniques. Maybe this would help others too

Rachel Rilinger

Examples of SOVT
What is SOVT?
Vocal Straw Exercises

About Hydration
There are a million articles on hydration for singers. Here’s just one of them. But also check out this article about hydration myths. The latter article wasn’t written with vocalists in mind, but still interesting to know. Stay hydrated my friends.

That’s all! Have a great holiday weekend!



Do you love Music Therapy Source and the Friday 5? Since 2009, I’ve been pouring hours and dollars into collecting and sharing resources for music therapists and people who want to become music therapists. This is a labor of love, and I’m not trying to get rich doing it. However, there are costs to maintaining the website and the ever-growing email list. If you love the resources and have the means to help keep it going, please consider subscribing to support this community! There are 3 different levels of support, which start at about the price of a pack of guitar strings ($5/month). And if you have already pledged some moolah, THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. I am sending good vibes and a virtual hug your way.


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