Before you get too concerned we are not actually going to use the electric slide to acquire a new vocal skill. We are going to engage with the voice in a slide though.
Vocal flexibility, especially encouraging air flow in that flexibility, is a pretty useful tool to have in your arsenal. I like to use vocal slides as that multi-tool, that is starting a lower pitch and moving to a higher pitch (at least a fifth away) and back without jumping. Connecting each of the notes with all of the semi-tones that come in between them and then playing with beginning lower and ending higher.
These slides can be done on a lip trill (the double lip raspberry), on a vowel (I like /a/ and /u/ for these), or a relaxed hum. If you are primarily a speaker or not used to this type of exercise start by using a prop.
Straw slide exercise: Get a glass with a couple of inches of water in it and a straw. Form an /u/ while securely creating a seal around the straw, place the straw into the water making sure you have space between it and the bottom of the glass. Then, blow any pitches you can on that /u/ through the straw. This will make bubbles form in the glass. You want these sounds to be free of effort in the throat so go gently but surely. Once you have a pitch or two, start trying to slide them upwards and downwards. Observe how much air this requires. Do 3-5 repetitions whether you “succeed” or not keep attempting the exercise, daily if you can, for a couple of weeks. Always taking the time to observe and note the changes. Most of all have fun.
Gina Razón is the principal voice specialist at GROW Voice LLC, a full-service voice and speech studio in Boston’s Back Bay. She has over 16 years of experience both as a teacher of voice and speech, and a voraciously curious voice user. Gina has worked professionally as a classical singer for over a decade and more recently as a professional public speaker. For more information on the studio or to book Gina visit www.growvoice.com.