My 5 Favorite SOVT Exercises for Vocal Training


As you may be learning, I’m enamored with SOVT Exercises and now use them for nearly 100% of my in-home vocal training.

I didn’t understand them at first.

This might be a way for you to learn from my earlier mistakes. I had a tendency to think of these exercises as “vocal warm ups” and not as serious training tools. I would get through them quickly and fairly unconsciously so I could get to the “meat of my training”, the big powerful open-mouth vowel exercises.

I was wrong.

Open-mouth vowel exercises can be excellent. I do them in every lesson with my coach. However, open-mouth training triggers all of our bad habits with vowels and consonants. Can there be a way to keep those habits at bay so we can build new and better vocal habits with our repetitive training?

Enter Semi-Occluded Vocal Training (SOVT)! It’s perfect for the job.


It has taken me a long time and loads of trial and error to arrive at this understanding.

Once sound waves are created at the vocal folds, the shape of the vocal tract becomes of paramount importance. You can provide the perfect flow of air pressure to the perfect vocal fold configuration, and if your vocal tract isn’t shaped correctly for what you’re doing moment by moment, your sound will be flawed.

Here are the main components of your vocal tract that contribute to the correct (or incorrect) shape:

  • The tongue.
  • The jaw.
  • The lips.
  • The soft palate.
  • Several face and head muscles.
  • The larynx height.
  • The pharynx shape and firmness.
  • The epiglottic lid.
  • Those troublesome false vocal folds.

The key to me to getting better at singing so quickly now is the realization of a few important concepts:

  • Consonants are notorious for pulling us out of a good placement by tweaking the correct shape of our vocal tract.
  • Vowels when sung as we speak also pull us out of good placement. We have so many bad habits associated with vowels and consonants and they are too easy to trigger.
  • In singing, ALL vowels have about 95% of technique and shape in common.

If we find and train on only this “core shape”, without the use of open-mouth vowels and consonants, we actually improve all our vowels much faster!

Yes, it sounds counter-intuitive. It’s true. In my case it’s been miraculous!


As explained in the video, each of these semi-occluded exercises can be done with good technique and bad technique. Further, there are many good technique variations for each exercise.

My 5 Favorite SOVT Exercises:

  1. Lip trill.
  2. Tongue trill.
  3. Humm.
  4. Voiced Fricatives (and the Coperta).
  5. Straw Phonation in Water Device.

My favorite for most everything is the straw phonation in water device. I have dozens upon dozens of variations and I’m discovering more all the time.

I will sometimes do a good workout with the first four exercises listed above, and then I’ll shift gears and do a long session of training on the “Bubbler”, as I think of it.

I’m about to post another new article and video called, “My Exact Vocal Training Workout to Sing Better Faster“. I’ll link to it here when it’s up. This will give you a clearer idea how I build my workouts these days.

Be well and enjoy your day,

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