by Susan Miller, PhD, CCC-SLP

  1. BREATHE - Begin with several deep breaths into your lower rib cage, trying not to pause at the peak of inhalation or the end of exhalation.  Follow your breathing as it finds equilibrium.  Try to inhale easily through your nose with your jaw relaxed and your face long.  Relax your tongue by placing the tip of your tongue lightly behind your upper teeth or lightly behind your lower teeth.  This will open the back of your throat.  The needed amount of air will come in automatically so you do not need to inhale or suck in large amounts of air.  As you get proficient in this, use it when driving, walking, listening and relaxing.  The goal is to find equilibrium not to inhale large amounts of air.

  2. PERFORM LIP TRILLS - Do a glide from your lowest to highest pitch, scales and arpeggios.  Lip trill a song and then sing it.  Lip trills establish excellent coordination among breathing, vocal fold vibration and articulation.  Do tongue trills if you can.

  3. KNOLL SIREN - Take a breath and start saying the word 'Knoll' at a low pitch and let the sound glide upward in pitch slowly to as high as you can go.  Think nasal as the sound ascends.  Take a breath and say 'Knoll' starting at a high pitch and allow the sound to glide down slowly to a low pitch.

  4. HUM A SONG - Hum a song lightly - or say 'mm'hmm?' as if someone asked you if you want a million dollars - or say 'mimi' followed by numbers 1 to 10.  Saying 'mimi one, mimi two, mimi three' etc. will focus your voice up in your nose and mouth and not on your vocal folds.  Exaggerate the vowel sounds in the numbers.  Then talk to yourself and stay in this vocal range.

  5. TALK FOR ONE MINUTE - Talk for one minute with your tongue relaxed but outside your mouth.  Allow your mouth and jaw to form the sounds.

  6. RECITE - Recite five tongue twisters (i.e. 'red leather-yellow leather-light blue leather) while looking in the mirror.  Be sure to open your jaw appropriately and allow your tongue to articulate freely.

For more ideas on vocal health visit Dr. Miller's