The Art of Transformational Voice

Posts tagged ‘humming’


Humming on nasal consonants can be very useful to access more resonance in the openings in the face and head. Because of the way it stimulates the brain as well as other organs and glands, humming also has a great effect on the entire physical and personality system.

[m] helps us feel vibrations in the forward resonators, especially the mouth. It is especially beneficial when the sound lacks brilliance and clarity. In combination with vowel sounds such as [i], the IPA* symbol for a long “ee” sound like in the word “feet” or [a] like in the word “hat” we can learn how resonance adds acoustical efficiency and volume without having to put pressure on the vocal cords. This is a great combination for transforming shyness, sadness or other qualities that cause the voice to be held within and quiet. 

[ng] increases sensation and resonance in the throat at the back of the mouth. Accessing the inside spaces behind the larynx, mouth and nose can add more warmth to the sound. We can feel and hear this even more when it is used in combination with vowels such as [o] like in the word “note” or [u] like in the word “shoe.” This is a useful combination to bring calm and gentleness to the entire system, to transform anger or impatience.

[n] is in the center and can be used to bring balance and integration of both front and back resonators. Using it in combination with the vowel [α] like in the word “paw” heightens our sense of activating both front and back resonators together. It is a useful combination for bringing stability and strength to the entire physical and personality system. It is great for accessing qualities like acceptance and endurance.

Working different combinations reveals different ways of transforming and balancing the voice and its effects. Try [m] with [o] or [ng] with [a]. You will find some combinations increase flexibility while others add power. Some make high notes easier to access while others bring more clarity to low notes. The particular combination that is most effective changes from one situation to the next. After a while you will start to have a sense of how the nasal consonants work with you. Until then, it’s valuable to just play around with the different sounds and enjoy what they bring to your expressive artistry.

* IPA stands for International Phonetic Alphabet



Some people like traditional prayers that are found in formal religions. Others don’t identify with praying at all. I think praying is deeply personal and whatever prayers likes it that way. In fact, there are likely as many ways of praying as there are people who do it.

I learned from Esther Cohen that one way to pray is just to say “Amen” a lot. It reminds me that life is its own prayer and I don’t have to get all fancy and ritualistic. I can just wake up to a sense of sacredness in any moment.

Rosy is dancing. Amen.

Randy shoveled the snow off my walks. Amen.

I sang at my friend’s funeral. Amen.

I feel tenderly toward the neighbor’s cat that is lonely and crying. Amen.

9 months post treatment I’m cancer free. Amen.

I’m both grateful and grieving. Amen.

The impulse my body has to inhale is the source of creation breathing me to life. The impulse to exhale is that source wanting to bring something to life through me. Following my breath is praying.

A subtle but relentless thought about someone is a prayer entering my willing heart. I dial the phone and learn that Sandy’s cat just died in her arms. Another day I call and Aidan says he broke his ankle. Practicing singing increases my tendency to tune into these subtle promptings.

My own broken heart is a petition spilling all over the day to call someone else to experience being the answer to prayer.

There’s an old Christian saying, “Singing is praying twice.” The reason religions often chant rather than speak prayers is because of all that happens for us as we chant:

  • The regular rhythm entrains and slows breathing and heart rates, encouraging deeper states of relaxation and concentration.
  • The vibrato is the same rate as in certain states of meditation and lucid dreaming, encouraging a deeper sense of connection with spirit.
  • The increased overtones stimulate the brain and immune system enhancing energy and focus.

It is possible to use the speaking voice in a way that generates all of these qualities, but most of us don’t do that. If we don’t want to chant, starting our day with a little humming can help. Breathing practices aimed at balancing and regulating the breath can also help.

The miracle of creation and the potential for love is in every breath, in each sensation, thought and feeling. Using our voice as prayer is a way to open to love.