Online SOVT 'Singposium' - April 11, 2021

Apr 11, 2021

SOVT (Semi Occluded Vocal Tract) exercises – where the mouth is partially closed – have been an essential part of vocal training and rehabilitation for some years. A 'Singposium' on this topic took place on April 11, 2021.


AOTOS UK was delighted to invite three of the leading figures in this field from across Europe to demonstrate some of the latest techniques and findings working with singers. Oren Boder (UK), Dr Filipa Lã (Portugal/Madrid) and Dr Ilter Denizoglu (Turkey) will each give a presentation followed by a Round Table and open Q&A for attendees – hosted by Dr Susan Yarnall-Monks (President of EVTA) and Heidi Pegler (AOTOS Past Chair).


Here is a report on the event written by Susan Yarnall-Monks:


Singposium on SOVT Aotos/Eurovox Sunday 11th April 2-5pm BST on Zoom


This was a very successful, intense 3 hour session with informative and inspiring presentations. Heidi Pegler, past Chair of AOTOS (Eurovox 2020 Chair), welcomed over 129 delegates (175 registered altogether from the UK and across Europe, so some will watch later as it was being recorded for that purpose).


Oren Boder began with a clear and thorough explanation of SOVT, semi-occluded vocal tract and straw phonation and illustrated his talk with slides and demonstrations using his SOVT straw, which is a specifically modified straw with different diameters and lengths. He emphasized the need to understand the optimum use of the straw and that one size does NOT fit all. PTP phonation threshold pressure was a new term for me, and I liked the image of the ‘soft-close kitchen cupboard door’ to illustrate the way straw phonation encourages safe use of the voice, without a heavy closure of the vocal folds ‘banging’ together.


Filipa Lã gave a detailed summary of the efficacy of the ‘Flowball’ in developing balanced phonation, with the backup of strong scientific data and research into vocal fold closure and the benefits of real time feedback in the teaching studio.


Ilter Denizoglu spoke about the physical and athletic requirements to be a professional singer, and in this climate of pandemic the value of consistent and gentle vocal exercise to maintain vocal fitness, even without the high peaks of performing on stage. The use of his ‘Doctor Vox’ tubes in water and the mask to allow for articulation of words in singing was clearly demonstrated.


These excellent and detailed presentations were followed with a lively round table discussion (chaired by Susan Yarnall-Monks EVTA President), with some fascinating questions revealing the interest and diversity of SOVT knowledge amongst the audience. It was very clear that since the initial work of Ingo Titze and Kittie Verdolini back in the early 2000s science and research has come a long way. There was a call for more practical illustrations of this work in real singing ‘workshop/masterclass’ settings, which EVTA and AOTOS will explore when we can finally meet in person.


Nicola-Jane Kemp, current Chair of AOTOS, thanked everyone who took part, with a special thanks to Nick Duncombe for behind the scenes work on Zoom management and collating questions.


In summary, SOVT exercises with flowball or straw devices certainly appear to assist in helping balanced and safe phonation, useful for therapy, helping to ‘build a voice’, easing vocal fatigue, useful for children and choral settings, encouraging flexibility in the voice, good visual feedback, encouraging a sensitivity of resonance and improving breath and air flow.


Everyone appreciated the depth of knowledge from our three presenters, there was universal thanks from participants, and it left everyone wanting to learn more about this important aspect of vocal understanding.


Thank you, Nicky-Jane and everyone who took part!