About deconstriction exercises for singers
In the sense of voice production, constriction is a disorder of the larynx in which the vocal folds (chords) are moved toward excessive adduction (closure) by the false vocal folds (the muscles that cause abduction -opening- and adduction of the vocal folds). This excessive adduction causes an unnatural, harsh-sounding strain on the voice. Constriction may be caused by something as simple as poor posture, never good for a singer, by straining to reach notes outside of the singer’s natural or trained range, or by excessive periods of shouting or screaming. While the condition is usually temporary and can be resolved by deconstriction exercises, it may lead to an added disorder of vocal nodules.
Fortunately, deconstriction exercises are easily performed and are advisable exercises to perform regularly to limit the onset of construction. These exercises mimic laughter, a function that naturally relaxes the false vocal folds to allow vocal folds their proper function of vibration, the mechanism of vocal sound. For the continued health of the vocal folds, laughter really is the best medicine.
These exercises, however, are mostly conducted silently. Assuming proper posture – stand or sit straight, feet flat on the floor, body upright, arms and hands relaxed, neck and head aligned upright and facing forward – open the mouth as if laughing, but silently exhale forcefully with a voiceless “ha-ha-ha…” until air can no longer be expelled. Hold the position of the mouth for a number of seconds, then exhale and breath in deeply and silently, still placing no strain on the vocal folds, and repeat the voiceless exhaling exercise.
Another exercise is to breathe in deeply and silently through a wide-open mouth (again, as if laughing) while placing both palms over the ears in order to amplify any internal sounds produced while breathing in. If the vocal folds are properly abducted for this exercise, no internal sound should be heard because the folds are wide open and not vibrating. Then, breathe out, also silently until air is fully expelled. Repeat the exercise several times.
The last of the deconstriction exercises repeats the first exercise while applying a gentle, soft singing voice that produces the “zzz” sound on the exhale cycle (remain silent on the inhale cycle). Sing in a sliding scale up and down and remember to maintain proper posture throughout. These exercises will deconstruct the false vocal folds for proper singing performance.
If you have questions about deconstriction exercises or results focused voice therapy, contact your local doctor who will arrange for you to see a speech pathologist. Contact us today!