Love your own Voice: 4 Vocal Play Exercises

By October 25, 2022July 31st, 2023Creativity Corner
Love your own Voice: 4 Vocal Play Exercises

Why We Stopped Singing

All children love singing. If we don’t love singing anymore now that we’re adults, it’s because we lost our ability to feel safe and loved enough to really let ourselves sing like we used to. We’ve become too wounded, too shy, or too scared of exposure. 

Our voices, whatever they are or are not, contain the unique voiceprint of our personalities. In the qualities of our voices, any loving listener can hear the true nature of what we are in the most truthful parts of ourselves. 

Our voices hold information about who we really are on the inside. That also explains why many of us keep our singing voices hidden, from ourselves and everyone else. Because we stopped believing we would be heard in a loving way, we stopped singing.

A Woman’s Voice Tells Her Story

In a woman’s voice you can hear the timeless, the eternal, and the specific, all at the same time. No voice is exactly the same as another’s.

Our voices hold our stories, and tell the listening ear of what happened to us, good bad and ugly. Where we restrict, where we go deep or soft, where we hold ourselves back or push ourselves forward with strain – all of these qualities reveal what we have been through, how we responded to those events, where we sustained a wound and where and how we healed. 

Learning to Let Ourselves Sing Again

The following vocal play exercises can help us learn to relate to our voices in a loving, encouraging way, such that someday we may sing out into the world again.

1. Humming

When you hum with the intention of loving your voice, humming heals. In this exploration we hum with different vocalized letters, feeling where in your body the vibrations happen. 

Where do we feel the buzzing? Placing hands on our lips, noses, cheeks, we can feel the vibrations more. 

Begin with a big belly breath in, placing your hands on your belly. Then let the air slowly flow as sound, as humming. Start with any pitch that feels comfortable, but feel free to move the pitch and volume up and down, as though testing out your sound system. 

  • Mmm
  • nnnn 
  • vvvvvv
  • zzzzz
  • zhhhhhh (like the s sound in the word vision)

2. Singing Syllables

In the next step we play with vowels paired with letters, creating little syllables. 

Take one big belly breath in, and on a single out-breath, move through syllables fluidly, following what feels interesting to try out. 

You can use any of the letters of the alphabet, so these are just some examples to start with, of syllables to sing and play around with: 

Ma Me Mi Mo Mu

Va Ve Vi Vo Vu 

Nya Nye Nyi Nyo Nyu (like the n in onion)

Nga Nge Ngi Ngo Ngu (like the ng in singing)

Tha The Thi Tho Thu (both ways, like the th sound in them, and like the th sound in teeth).

3. Call and Respond to Yourself

Call and response is a great connection exercise. 

Make a sound, then make the same sound again, mimicking yourself. Experiment with gradually longer pieces of sound/song. Sometimes you’ll get it right and sometimes you won’t, that doesn’t matter, the benefit is in the trying. 

This works especially well if you sing close to a wall or other reflective surface so that you also hear your voice bounced back to you. Other fun options can be to try singing through a tube (like a paper towel roll tube) or into spaces with different acoustic properties, such as a tiled bathroom or a walk-in closet.  

4. Sing Your Truth

Try singing the truth of how you feel in short, simple lines that you repeat several times. To start, in any melody at all (doesn’t have to be pretty!), sing a line about how you feel right now. For example “I feel grumpy…” 

Sing that one, truthful line about how you feel, over and over in different ways, melodies, intensities, pitches, for as long as you want, and until it feels like maybe you have something else you want to say. Feel free to change the line at that point. 

The goal here is to make loving contact with your voice through a simple exercise, but also, while you’re at it, play with using your voice to express a simple, present truth. 

Have fun, and don’t forget to appreciate your one-of-a-kind voice while you play!

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