THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN
LAX VOX OR BUBBLING.
Singing through tubes does miracles with the voice and is part of what is called “SOVT-Training”. Those who are already familiar in the vocal worlds have already discovered that there are different ways of tube singing. Some sing through a tube in a bottle of water, others sing through straws, or sing through the SOVT-Trainer, developed by Mind The Voice!
What does SOVT-Training do with your voice?
SOVT-Training is a big thing in the vocal world, because it really works! The condition is proper use of the various tools available. That’s why it’s important to know exactly what it does for you.
The abbreviation SOVT stands for “semi occluded vocal tract” which means that you are going to semi occlude your vocal tract as a vocal practice.
It actually works very simply:
The biggest culprit of voice problems is the use of too much lung pressure (read: pressure that you push out from your chest to the throat). This causes throat tension, hoarseness, poor conversion of the air to sound, limited breath support and breath control. By partially closing off your vocal tract during vocal exercises, the lung pressure is reduced and an opposite pressure or resistance is created, creating a balance of air pressure both at the bottom and the top of your vocal cords that will cause the vocal cords to vibrate perfectly healthy.
So both your vocal cords are happy with it, because they can vibrate more easily for both low and high tones, as well as your breathing control regains its balance. For that reason you will notice that after doing SOVT exercises you will always sound less hoarse and that speaking or singing will feel easier.
Better vibration of the vocal cords => better closure of the vocal cords => clear voice!
Kinds of SOVT-exercises
Singing through the SOVT Trainer, singing through regular tubes, bubbling or lax vox as well as lipvrolls or singing on a zzz are SOVT exercises.
They all have their benefits for your voice.
Let’s start with the lip rolls:
Lip rolls help you regulate your breathing flow. If you are unable to make a sound and make your lips vibrate permanently, this is either due to the limited control of your breathing flow while singing or speaking, or to too much or too little muscle tension in the lips (think of the correct lip tension that trumpet players need to have to create sound). However, if you sing with too much air or throat tension, you will not necessarily notice this while doing your lip roll exercises. It’s perfectly possible that you’re doing this wrong, because you don’t have a “feedback” system.
Singing on a zzz:
A top exercise. Helps to make your vocal cords vibrate better and it improves your breath control. Think of a buzzing bee. All the air needs to be converted into sound, without extra escaping air. But here too: the only feedback you get is your listening ear.
Lax vox or bubbling:
As soon as a tube is used in the SOVT exercise, you create a “fixed” resistance, namely the tube that consists of a certain diameter and a certain length.
When singing through a tube, you lengthen your vocal tract, giving it more benefits than the exercises without tubes.
When bubbling, you use a tube of 30 to 35 cm with a diameter of 9 – 12 mm that you place 1, 2, 3 cm in a bottle of water, depending on the resistance you want to create. The deeper you insert the tube, the more resistance. Don’t have a tube yet? Then there are several possibilities: there are official lax vox tubes, but you can also just go to the local DIY store to have an “aquarium” tube cut off, which will work out much cheaper and also does its thing perfectly. OR you take singing lessons at Mind The Voice and then you get one for free. 😉
The official lax vox tubes are made of a soft plastic, but I think it’s better to use a “harder” one than a soft plastic one, as the soft versions often pick up and hold dust, which is less hygienic. At Mind The Voice we use extra hygienic tubes from the food industry.
Benefits of lax vox:
Lax vox literally means relaxation of the voice. Bubbling gives your internal throat muscles and your vocal cords a massage. Your throat literally opens and closes a bit during practice, your muscles are moved loosely, which is a bit reminiscent of your body vibrating in a bubble bath. By vibrating the muscles loose, any mucus is also vibrated loose, making this an extra good exercise to do with a cold.
When do you use lax vox?
- When you have strained your voice or are overtired. (as a cool down or when you should not use your voice too intensively)
- When you have a cold to help you cough up your mucus.
- When you suffer of throat tension or muscle tension dysphonia. (hoarseness due to muscle tension)
- When you have more serious vocal problems such as vocal cord nodules or a reduced vocal cord closure to teach you the basic vocal cord vibration.
- As a cooling down after an intensive speaking day or concert.
When should you not do lax vox?
- Since lax vox vibrates your mucus loose, it is not a good exercise to do just before a presentation or concert, because then the mucus can get in the way when you have to perform.
- A second reason not to do it just before a performance or presentation is because your voice is in “relaxation mode”, instead of “activation mode”. An important nuance.
You can find more about bubbling or lax vox in this blog!
SOVT-Trainer and straw phonation:
Singing through tubes without water is also possible. By omitting the water effect, the extra relaxing massage effect also disappears. The advantage of this is that singing through tubes without water has a more activating function.
Until a few years ago, there were 4 to 5 different diameters with which you could practice through plastic straws. The smaller the diameter, the more resistance. That resistance helps you improve your vocal chord vibration and gives you instant feedback on your used breath flow. After all, if you give away too much wild air (this is air that is not converted into sound and can cause vocal cord nodules), you will notice that you will no longer get SOUND through smaller straws. Due to the ban on plastic, the smallest straws have been withdrawn from the market for several years.
The birth of the SOVT-Trainer
Time to introduce my husband, Kris Van Roy, to the story: Kris, my husband, managing director at Mind The Voice and CTO at WOLF44, is known for his technical vision. He is always up for developing new ideas.
He developed a tube with 4 holes, each 2 mm in diameter, a bit like the idea of a block flute or recorder. In this way you can create different resistances on the voice, by closing off the holes, so that you can practice much more intensively than with the plastic straws.
The SOVT trainer is therefore an answer to those smallest diameters.
The smallest diameter of the SOVT-Trainer original is 2mm. You have 4 holes, so you can close off 1 hole, 2 holes, 3 holes or no holes, which creates a different resistance each time. Closing off the last holes on the length of the tube, or the first, will also give a difference in breath control. Singing through a longer tube requires more breathing flow than through a shorter tube. This allows you to practice on 15 different levels with the SOVT-Trainer. Great idea, Kris.
SOVT trainer = has a voice restoring, activating and optimizing function, completely depending on the way you practice with it.
- It improves your breath control, breath control and breath flow.
- It reduces throat tension.
- It gives instant feedback = no sound when you sing through it with too much wild air.
- Your voice will sound clearer after only 5 minutes of use.
- You can train your larynx setting with it (lowered, neutral and uppered) depending on the amount of holes you close. This allows you to practice using your voice in all the colors and sounds you want: warm sound, shout, twang, belting, head voice, mixed voice, vocal fry, distortion, scream.
- It helps you increase your vocal range.
When do you use the SOVT-Trainer?
- Always start with level 1 first and build up slowly if you have voice problems.
- If you are a trained singer: start with level 1, and build up a little stronger by alternating to level 6, 12 and then 15. Always finish back with level 1. (take the free online vocal course at www.mindthevoiceonline.com )
- Take the SOVT-Trainer with you and do this every 5 minutes before you have to speak or sing intensively to activate your healthy vocal setting and vocal muscle memory. In between, practice for longer poses on glissandos on thirds (speakers), fifths and octaves (singers) on the audio exercises from www.sovttrainer.com. Still not enough? Also do the other audio exercises on the website.
- In case of a cold or overdue of the voice and you need to speak or sing intensively (as a teacher, speaker, singer). In this case, do lax vox in the morning and switch to the SOVT-Trainer after 10 minutes to stimulate your vocal cord closure. On such a day, do it again every time you feel the hoarseness or voice fatigue coming back.
- Also, as a trained singer or speaker, keep alternating the higher levels with the lower levels. This is to practice your different larynx positions. (Important for the variation in your voice color)
When is it better not to do SOVT-Trainer exercises?
There is no contraindication. You can always restart from level 1.
Sing through your SOVT-Trainer daily and activate your voice with it just before you start using your voice intensively.
SOVT-Trainer PRO & SOVT-Trainer ORIGINAL
For the observant readers among you: there is indeed a SOVT-Trainer original and a SOVT-Trainer PRO. The PRO has only 2 holes: it consists of the last level of the SOVT-Trainer original, with a 2mm hole, but has also been upgraded with an extra hole (so an extra level): consisting of 1.2mm. This level is really a pain in the ass. If you use too much air, you will blow yourself up 🙂
The advantage here is that you can’t help but use the right setting of the twang, the right breath control, find the perfect balance in vocal chord vibration, and therefore allow you to expand your vocal range! I use the SOVT-PRO to optimize the belting voice, mixed voice, head voice, flageolet and finally the setting to train the correct and healthy use of whistle notes. A top tool!
In the meantime, many artists have become addicted to this wonderful magic whistle. It goes around the world and top artists from Belgium also do their vocal warm ups with it: Mathieu (Bazart), Jasper Steverlinck, Camille, Metejoor, Coely, Olivia Trappeniers, Helmut Lotti, Maksim, Ramkot, Evil Invaders, Black Mirrors, Tinne Oltmans,…
I recommend it to everyone!