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Silent exercises and stretching of the folds.

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Xamedhi
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I have experimented in these past two weeks with silent exercises. Has anyone else had experience with this?

I think it helps to stretch the folds slowly and without "using" the folds directly ( to vibrate ), to warm up the vocal muscles in a different way, and to warm up and work the breath support and control.

If done with enough strength or compression, either exhaling or inhaling I think it can be quite helpful to train closure, without risking at all the vocal folds health; no irritation and no dehydration, as there is no friction or air passing through the folds.

I do some of these before I speak or make any sound in the morning, or while I'm on the bus or whatever.

Being creative is key, haha. Here are some examples of what I've been doing so you can try them, or make up your own:

-With all the breath control possible from the inhalation muscles we manage do suspend the breath/air in the middle without inhaling or exhaling.

Set up the most airy vocal coordination you can do. Exhale just a bit of air to make sure you are in the desired pitch. Then sustain the coordination for as long as you need. I have been doing 10-15 secs, as that is a very balanced amount of time to sustain the stretching of any muscle. Then when you get used to it and have more knowledge of your folds there is no need to exhale and make any sound, as you already know in which pitch you are.

When you are getting warmed up you can vary the amount of closure you use, which I have observed, changes also the range of pitches you have access to.

Using little to no closure is useful to stretch the TA, as you stretch the folds and TA without it tensing to keep closure ( sorry for the redundance )

( Just to clarify. When stretching any muscle in the body, 15s is the average to obtain the maximum balance of flexibility, strength, reaction speed and control when stretching before any physical activity. If the muscle is stretched for longer than 30secs, then the muscle is far more flexible, but loses control and reaction speed considerably. On top of that, if we stay for more than 30 secs -varies from person to person- in a very stretchy position, then the muscle understands it as a "trauma" and tends to protect itself by contracting. So yeah, immediate flexibility, but it is lost in a couple of minutes. So it is best to do hardcore stretching at the END of any physical routine, as it can be counterproductive or even damaging to workout a muscle with excesive flexibility and lack of strength and control )

Breath control is very important because you can to control very precisely what you want the air to do. I've been trying to work on closure using inhalation, like this:

-Take a breath, medium or big breath, depending on the amount of time you want to stay in the coordination and the amount of strength you have on your inhalation muscles. The more air you have in your lungs, the more energy and strength you need to use to suspend the breath, or in this case keep inhaling. I'll get to that.

When you have the air set up, just close your folds as if you were going to jump into the swimming pool. But unlike in that situation you don't want to feel any pressure at all in the glottis. If the breath support is working as intended you should be able to stay in the middle and feel nothing at the throat ( you know you have your folds closed. You MUST know haha )

In that position you should be able to INHALE with your inhalation muscles. They are powerful. Powerful enough to the point where if you have your folds really sealed you should feel such vacuum that your larynx can even lower a bit.

Returning to the middle of the breath you should also be able to change pitch, as low and high as you want. The cool thing about inhalation is that you can go to the extremes of your range without much effort ( the sound is terrible haha but the anatomic part is what we are after )

Here you can do two things. You can train closure while exhaling or inhaling. With a heck of a lot of breath support and vacuum, and just a bit of voluntary exhalation you can go to any pitch and train very precise and fine motor skills, trying to sustain the closure without leaking air. ( Working as a side effect on the bridging coordination without any sound, repeating time after time the tilting of the larynx and memorizing it unconsciously with the aid of this constant closure)

The same can be done inhaling, which to me has been easier. With sealed folds you can go to any pitch and train strength ( by increasing the vacuum to higher levels ) by, for example, going to the lowest low and do an inhaled vocal fry for several seconds ( depending on desired effect and person ) which is where you find the most contracted position of the TA. Or on its counterpart you can go to the highest pitch you can on this sealed folds-inhaling coordination and stay up there stretching the folds while maintaining the muscle tension.

This way we can stretch the folds and work on the TA and CT in an isometric and isotonic way as desired. Isometric by staying still on any coordination, or isotonicly by gradually sirening up or down to X pitch.

These excercises can be very heplful to discover muscle coordinations, to reinforce muscle coordinations, therapeuticly, as using light "silent vocalizing" activates sore muscles and stretching them, irrigating them of blood to optimize regeneration, and maybe... I'm not really sure, to build strength. All of this leaving the vocal folds isolated. This is helpful if they are damaged beforehand, you have a cold, or you just want to do some stuff while keeping quiet in the library.

I'm looking forward to other's opinions on this things I have observed. I would greatly appreciate if you read what I've written here. It has been helpful to me, so I guess someone else might be able to take something good out of this, learn something or use some ideas to build new knowledge :)

( It's pretty late and when writing a lot it's always chaos on my mind, haha... so if something wasn't clear just ask and I'll try to clarify whatever it is ASAP )

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Very interesting. Obviously many of us (including myself) are going to be a bit skeptical. Could you possibly make some sound files of singing or vocalizing, one before doing the silent warm up and one after, to show the improvement? That is what will make me a believer. Especially since if this really does work it would be extremely convenient. Even if it works a portion as well as actual vocalizing that's good to know too. But we have to know, I don't want to waste an hour trying something like this with no evidence it works. Also I question whether it could have some unhealthy disadvantages from not practicing managing the health of the vocal folds at the same time.

I bet there are some very knowledgable people in the forum like Steven Fraser who would know from a scientific standpoint if this is a good idea - try posting this in the vocal science section!

What coach did you learn this from, if any?

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Hi :)

Well, first of all I figured this out myself, haha. In February I was trying some coordinations, very heavy ones, and I ended up with a slight needling, goosebumping sensation on the left side of my throat. My voice had no issues, my folds where ok. I still sounded good, the only problem was this strange feeling. The next day it was the same. I didn't sing because I knew I had to take care of my voice. But the problem didn't subside.

My folds had no problem at all. I know how it feels to have crap folds as I suffer from chronic rhinitis some seasons. Now I was always able to do 10 secs of a light high note with very very little air, no problem. Than never changed.

Now, I do classical ballet, so I know by experience, how a muscle contracture feels. When the room, the air, or your muscle is cold, the muscle stiffens, stings and when using it it feels well.. awful haha. Heat relaxes the muscles and favors good blood circulation so needed nutrients for healing are flowing well. Stretching reduces the symptoms and helps the muscle fibers to "un-knot". Exercise helps to maintain the muscle irrigated of blood also, and to regenerate muscle fibers.

This is exactly what I felt on my throat. I was for a month experimenting with different types of coordinations to diminish the problem.

What I found out is that excesive air REALLY is bothering, that's why it hurts to talk, but not sing ( I have terrible talking habits ).

Now, by reading an article the other day, it reminded me that speaking in low tones makes the TA contract, dah. And I recalled I kept trying to speak in low tones for all that "healing" period. Dumb me. I was illuminated and found that all I had to do is stretch, just like I do when I have a stiff, inflamed muscle from the cuadriceps when I overload it with too many jumps or very heavy load.

Then I had the idea of drinking hot tea, the heat applied reduced the symptoms entirely for some minutes, and then when the effect passed they came back but slightly less. Just like it is for any other muscle in the body.

It was time to figure out the stretching and the exercising part >:) And this type of exercising is what I came up with, so I can stretch and activate the muscles pretty much the whole day, while on the bus, or at home after some tea while watching TV. After a week of playing around like this I have almost no symptoms and, in fact, yesterday I vocalized and sang some Kamelot and Ayreon songs for a full hour, with no tickles or anything like that. I'm pretty happy, as I have learned a lot on the way, and have some crazy new ideas for working different aspects of my voice haha :)

As I explained before ( or tried ), these require no sound at all. Just sealing the folds like when diving underwater and going up or down in pitch. And of course you can do variations of it, relaxing the closure, or using heavy heavy closure and suck a lot of air -inhalation- ( while not breaking the closure with any sound) to challenge your strength ( or if you can -I certainly can't yet- pushing air out -exhalation ).. or staying in the middle with breath suspension for some precise closure control.

The inhaling and exhaling concepts ( maybe my bad for expressing the idea with those terms ) part doesn't mean you need to make sound, it's just the intention of releasing or sucking air. No sound at all ( although I've been doing 6-8 secs sets of inhaled vocal fry on the lowest of my range to work on heavy contraction of the TA, to do after that heavy stretching on the highest of my range ). That's why I found it cool. Muscle coordination comes by playing with your muscles around for hours. And I know this by experience. Man, I can activate all of the muscles on the cuadriceps independently, or grab a pen with my toes ( I haven't tried to write, though.. I might try that, lol ) so I know firsthand.

Of course I am skeptical too. I don't know if it helps to build strength, and I don't really think it would be the most optimized way if it did anyway, because it not comparable to a full metallic mode scale or something like that. There is no air doing heavy pressure against your folds. But at least it helps to warm up a bit ( also not comparable to doing lip rolls or sirens) , stretch -which was my goal-, and well.. just do something while you need to stay quiet.

One thing I am sure of is that the stretching part.. oh, god, the stretching part ahaha. It really works. Before I had this stupid "accident", the top of my range was like a D5. Yesterday after stretching for some minutes, I got into full closure, went as high as I could trying to keep my folds as sealed as possible, release a tiny bit of air and I got a clean light F5.

There may be several reasons for this to happen though. For example, just the plain stretching. Or having more closure, which helps with stability, energy economizing and the tension of the folds. The relaxed adyacent muscles and meat walls -haha- that have been trained this past week to move completely independant from the vocal part. No raised larynx due to unwanted, unvoluntary exessive tension, an so on. Whatever the reason, it HAS had an effect on me.

( One thing you haven't thought of, which I find kind of funny also, is that by doing these on the street, a cafeteria or whatever, people might stare at you. And if you are doing this stuff you better have a completely normal and relaxed face, or people will think you are weird, lol. So believe it or not, it helps SO MUCH to detatch and make independent the use of your different vocal muscles, twang/pharyngeal and whatever else, from the muscles of your face. No eyebrows raised, no smiling, no neck tensing, nothing )

I can't provide any recording of the before and after doing this right now, and actually I don't think it would be of any help. We are all different and we all should know what helps us or not.

What I can say is that in the morning after doing "silent sirens" in the shower, when I got into my bedroom again I could sing a song in my medium range pretty well, like if I was warmed up. Although this does not compare AT ALL with a proper warm up it can help to flexibilize the folds and muscles before singing, or KEEP them flexible and the muscles active after a good warm up.

Well, after an hour rambling around writing here I'll hit the submit button. I need to watch some TV series now, haha

I know there is a kind of credibility that comes from your singing. We all know it. So I want to post a pair of clips so you can know me, know where I am at singing right now, and where I am headed. I started singing seriously last year. In July, aprox. I know this is not a critique section, subsection or anything, these are just gonna be here if you wanna check how my singing is.

I recorded these yesterday:

https://soundcloud.com/sebabergmann/practice-feast-for-the-vain

Box links:

https://app.box.com/s/1oanwkqkb7peh42p644n

https://app.box.com/s/wtuvhclxt044o0dnmzqo

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Ah, forgot to tell you this as a kind of example of the effects I have experienced doing this.

After doing some 10 secs sets of high pitched inhaling (sucking.. no sound) headvoice gains more edge (in SS/MM terms), more.. closure, perhaps is the word? haha

Well, to explain, what was before the exercise a relaxed, normal and natural heady and hooty note, became after a relaxed, normal and natural light edge heady note.

This didn't last long, a few minutes later the "old normal" came back, but this proves that in my voice at least there IS muscle tension and work. ( I repeat, I don't want anyone to misinterpret the ideas I've shared, this is not comparable at all with a proper warm up and work out, I just do this when I have nothing else to do and must remain silent haha )

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Interesting approach. I'm sure your method aids recovery by keeping the blood flowing. Blood flow facilitates healing. I'm not sure it can help improve vocal technique because practicing the correct coordination is important an I'm not sure how you this could help that, but blood flow is always good. It may aid technical development in that it can promote faster recovery from practice.

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Thanks geran for the support. Well, Phil, I respect you a lot as a teacher, but I really have to say that it came up a bit arrogant. This is exactly what I wanted to prevent, people thinking I'm trying to sell you this or people who thinks I say this is the absolute, ULTIMATE secret in singing.

I just wanted to share my experience by doing this things, as it has really helped with what I really believe was a contracture of some sort by constant overload.

As a man of science, and every singing teacher should be, you should respect any new idea that comes up. First comes the pragmatic testing, observation, then analysis, and then the conclusions. I feel really offended by your approach.

Now, geran. It would be really difficult to post a sound clip of me doing this because it is silent, haha. But I could try to explain the steps or whatever in one. It's kind of difficult maybe to follow by reading it ( not that my writing and description is the best, haha ), so I maybe it could help to get the idea better.

Please, really, I don't want to me mocked. And I don't come to the forums here for that. I just want to share ideas so if someone is interested on experimenting to analyze results, or if someone has had similar ideas we can discuss about it.

Also, Phil, I believe you are self taught in a lot of areas, one of those, singing, isn't it? So please, be empathic and think that if you could figure out how to do things correctly, why others can not? Give them a chance. I have a teacher by the way. Not regular, but I can ask things from time to time when I need opinions or have doubts about something.

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Some people sometimes onset a bit off pitch sometimes, generally lower, and then search their way up until they find the correct pitch, so indeed, MDEW, doing exercises like this ( I call everything exercises because everything can serve to a purpose, we just have to discover what it is ) can be difficult if you don't really know where in your range you are in your set up, though exhaling a tiny bit of air will make sound and then you can figure it out.

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Well, sorry if I misunderstood the meaning of your intervention then. I had seen that video before in your channel, so I know you didn't make it for this specifically, lol But I kind of felt like you where looking down upon these ideas in some way.

I don't want to derail the thread so..

People who knows how exactly the TA, CT, folds, etc. work, and are able to understand or figure out how the vocal set up is used in this type of coordination, can you shade some light here, please?

I'm curious to know what is happening inside physically. :)

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Well...

Its true that simply thinking of phonating makes the muscles react as if they actually were doing so. Still its the first time I see someone trying to train in such way. I know of a singer that used it to keep his conditioning when he could not vocalize due to a health issue.

However, on the whole vibe of scientific research and seeking new paths to improvement, I think its a bit far-fetched. I advise to keep your view relative to what works for you, what are the benefits and in special what is it not doing. For now your samples sound quite relaxed and easy, which is a big point, but lacking a lot in energy, which steer it away from practical application. It MAY be something good IF you make good use of it.

Just keep it real, its easy to enter in a loop where instead of looking for improvement you are looking to show or proof your beliefs, as far as the subject is singing, this leads nowhere, be it your belief in CVT, or in silent singing.

In resume, use it, dont defend it. And if you are serious about the singing, teacher.

Oh and about muscular ballance, its non-linear and it depends a lot on the resonantal adjustment.

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Well, thanks for the input guys :)

I want to clarify though, that I have been doing this because I've had some issues when phonating this last summer, and also my chronic rhinitis has been kind of mad this season. I prefer a thousand times a proper warm up and work out over this. Last year I had incredible progress ( well, incredible to me haha, I am really amazed at how much I improved :) ) with the plan I was following, and I intend to keep doing it once I feel full capacity again.

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not sure if it was mentioned already, but one silent exercise i read on here from a teacher(forget who) was to exhale as silently and slowly as you can and if any sound gets made then that means your relying on your throat to hold back the air instead of support muscles.

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Well, that makes sense :P . I think if support is working as intended one should be able to suspend the breath in the middle with an open throat. From there you can inhale, exhale, pant like a dog or whatever, haha

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Well, thanks for the input guys :)

I want to clarify though, that I have been doing this because I've had some issues when phonating this last summer, and also my chronic rhinitis has been kind of mad this season. I prefer a thousand times a proper warm up and work out over this. Last year I had incredible progress ( well, incredible to me haha, I am really amazed at how much I improved :) ) with the plan I was following, and I intend to keep doing it once I feel full capacity again.

Have you looked into managing and mitigating your health issues? Besides medical interventions, there are safe and holistic methods, such as oil pulling and neti pots, that can help you deal with rhinitis and naso-pharyngeal issues in general.

Also, rhinitis and voice problems may be related to, or at least aggravated by, silent GERD. More on that topic in this recent thread:

http://themodernvocalist.punbb-hosting.com/viewtopic.php?id=9194

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Hi, Jim :) Thanks for the input. Well, it has never been a big problem, rhinitis just makes me more sensitive for example when I have a long walk on outside places and have no water to drink, or when there is considerable smoke, dirt or pollen nearby, and is pretty managable. Although I don't know why this summer it was accentuated.

I don't think it's GERD, but I'll read about that :) Thanks a lot!

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  • Administrator

... I have noticed that the posts and advise have become a bit better in quality as of late. I think the hard core TMV Forum gang have got a rhthym going... they seem to consistently be good feedback... compliments to all you guys for sounding smart and helping people out!

Phil, your funny... Love the swanky 'swinger' music in the back ground of your video and you present well... nice work Phil... Some advise, work on knocking 'em out in one take... no cut-aways... :cool:

Get a good coach that is:

- Published.

- Demonstrates their own dog food.

- Sings

- Is not just obsessed with "how to sing like... " videos, but can actually talk about technique and ideas that help you to sing like YOU! (GOD... I am really getting spent on all the "how to sing like... " videos)? Being a great singer of cover songs with 30 years of experience does not necessarily make you an effective voice coach to help others... Something like Felipe where you actually sing and just ... sing is cool. But "how to sing like"... and then failing to actually explain anything about it... is just for narcissistic egos... anyways, I digress.

- Work with teachers that emphasize register bridging as a priority (and can demonstrate it themselves), work with onsets, understand how to use vowels in your vocal training and offer products that actually give you training routines and content to practice.

@Phil... lip trills are ok... they are just another semi-occluded phonation that can help you warm up... but I agree with you, they are very benign and do not work any miracles.

Lastly, train, train, train.. and work the intrinsic musculature!!! If you don't work the musculature inside your vocal mechanism, you just won't be able to do the hard stuff.

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I have no problem with how to sing like videos IF:

1. you're actually singing somewhat like the singer you mention

2. you actually talk about how to do it

It seems to just be a marketing trick as of late. The average singer surfing youtube isn't very trained and familiar with italian terminology so they're more likely to search "how to sing like steve perry" than "how to bridge the passaggio." If you look at view counts of videos from the same coach this is pretty evident - the how to sing like ones tend to get more hits.

That's all well and cool, but it does get annoying...it needs to be balanced out with some real technique coaching.

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- Is not just obsessed with "how to sing like... " videos, but can actually talk about technique and ideas that help you to sing like YOU! (GOD... I am really getting spent on all the "how to sing like... " videos)? Being a great singer of cover songs with 30 years of experience does not necessarily make you an effective voice coach to help others... Something like Felipe where you actually sing and just ... sing is cool. But "how to sing like"... and then failing to actually explain anything about it... is just for narcissistic egos... anyways, I digress.

And that is one of the things I have liked most about your perspective. You are not there to teach a singer how to sing like or sound like singer x. You are there to teach a singer to be the next awesome singer since singer x came along.

So, rather than trying to teach a singer to sound like a carbon copy of Robert Plant, you train them and they have the chance to become the next "Robert Plant," iconic, powerful. So, while you might teach light phonation and distortion, it is not to sound like another singer, it is to have the tools that you can use to create your own sound, as worthy as any other person's sound.

A college friend of mine played really good guitar, sang like Geddy Lee, and wrote music similar to RUSH. And when his band played in a club, people would say, "sounds like RUSH." And then go back to their other pursuits, because they have already heard RUSH.

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