Vocal Function Exercises: What’s the Fuss?

VFEs If You Please…

If you’ve ever wanted to balance your voice by improving strength, endurance and coordination you may have come across vocal function exercises(VFEs). These are a series of 4 exercises that can be modified multiple different ways to balance your vocal subsystems. They were initially conceptualized by Dr. Joe Stemple and have been the subject of multiple research studies in the area of voice.

What Do I Do?

All 4 exercises consist of a warm-up, a stretch, a contract and a power section. Warming up is sustaining the vowel “eeeeee” as long as you can with a forward focus on one breath. Stretch and Contract are pitch glides with a modified oral and laryngeal cavity shape (to either create back-pressure, or modify with a glottic closure increaser.) Power consists of 5 separate notes, 1-5 on the major scale, usually starting on “C” but that can be modified with the same modified oral/laryngeal cavity.

Why Do We Do?

Positive effects have been seen in multiple areas of deficit like in disordered voices, functional dysphonia, vocal cord lesions and muscle tension dysphonia. Surprising to some, VFEs can also improve singers with no injury and no voice complaints, including singers in singing lessons or as warmups.

Trouble with VFEs?

There are many ways to modify VFEs to fit your need from the pitches chosen to the resonant cavity posture. There are ways to use technology like pitch monitor apps that track fundamental frequency (F0) as well as coaching needs to make sure you aren’t straining to produce the target sound. Modification has been researched to continue to be effective at reaching goals vocalists has for themselves.


I created a downloadable product with a PDF of Vocal Function Exercise handouts plus video models for original pitches and modified ones. You can find it here:

Read more in these research articles:

  • Angadi, V., Croake, D., & Stemple, J. (2019). Effects of Vocal Function Exercises: A Systematic Review. Journal of voice : official journal of the Voice Foundation, 33(1), 124.e13–124.e34. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvoice.2017.08.031
  • Bane, M., Angadi, V., Dressler, E., Andreatta, R., & Stemple, J. (2019). Vocal function exercises for normal voice: The effects of varying dosage. International journal of speech-language pathology, 21(1), 37–45. https://doi.org/10.1080/17549507.2017.1373858
  • Bane, M., Morton, M., Angadi, V., Andreatta, R., & Stemple, J. (2022). Vocal Function Exercises With and Without Maximally Sustained Phonation: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Individuals With Normal Voice. Journal of voice : official journal of the Voice Foundation, S0892- 1997(22)00317-4. Advance online publication.
  • Croake, D. J., Andreatta, R. D., & Stemple, J. C. (2017). Immediate Effects of the Vocal Function Exercises Semi-Occluded Mouth Posture on Glottal Airflow Parameters: A Preliminary Study. Journal of voice : official journal of the Voice Foundation, 31(2), 245.e9–245.e14. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvoice.2016.08.009
  • Gelfer, M. P., & Van Dong, B. R. (2013). A preliminary study on the use of vocal function exercises to improve voice in male-to-female transgender clients. Journal of voice : official journal of the Voice Foundation, 27(3), 321–334. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvoice.2012.07.008 Guzman, M., Angulo, M., Muñoz, D., & Mayerhoff, R. (2013). Effect on long-term average spectrum of pop singers’ vocal warm-up with vocal function exercises. International journal of speech-language pathology, 15(2), 127–135. https://doi.org/10.3109/17549507.2012.702283
  • Jafari, N., Salehi, A., Izadi, F., Talebian Moghadam, S., Ebadi, A., Dabirmoghadam, P., Faham, M., & Shahbazi, M. (2017). Vocal Function Exercises for Muscle Tension Dysphonia: Auditory-Perceptual Evaluation and Self-Assessment Rating. Journal of voice : official journal of the Voice Foundation, 31(4), 506.e25–506.e31.
  • Kaneko, M., Hirano, S., Tateya, I., Kishimoto, Y., Hiwatashi, N., Fujiu-Kurachi, M., & Ito, J. (2015). Multidimensional Analysis on the Effect of Vocal Function Exercises on Aged Vocal Fold Atrophy. Journal of voice : official journal of the Voice Foundation, 29(5), 638–644. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvoice.2014.10.017
  • Lim,H-J., Kim,J-K., Kwon, D-H. (2009) The effect of vocal function exercise on voice improvement in patients with vocal nodules. Journal of Korean Soc Speech Science, 1; 37-42.
  • Pasa, G., Oates, J., & Dacakis, G. (2007). The relative effectiveness of vocal hygiene training and vocal function exercises in preventing voice disorders in primary school teachers. Logopedics, phoniatrics, vocology, 32(3), 128–140. https://doi.org/10.1080/14015430701207774
  • Pedrosa, V., Pontes, A., Pontes, P., Behlau, M., & Peccin, S. M. (2016). The Effectiveness of the Comprehensive Voice Rehabilitation Program Compared With the Vocal Function Exercises Method in Behavioral Dysphonia: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Journal of voice : official journal of the Voice Foundation, 30(3), 377.e11–377.e3.77E19. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvoice.2015.03.013
  • Radhakrishnan, N., & Scheidt, T. (2012). Modified vocal function exercises: a case report. Logopedics, phoniatrics, vocology, 37(3), 123–126. https://doi.org/10.3109/14015439.2012.664655
  • Roy, N., Gray, S. D., Simon, M., Dove, H., Corbin-Lewis, K., & Stemple, J. C. (2001). An evaluation of the effects of two treatment approaches for teachers with voice disorders: a prospective randomized clinical trial. Journal of speech, language, and hearing research : JSLHR, 44(2), 286–296. https://doi.org/10.1044/1092-4388(2001/023)
  • Sabol, J. W., Lee, L., & Stemple, J. C. (1995). The value of vocal function exercises in the practice regimen of singers. Journal of voice : official journal of the Voice Foundation, 9(1), 27–36. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0892-1997(05)80220-6
  • Sauder, C., Roy, N., Tanner, K., Houtz, D. R., & Smith, M. E. (2010). Vocal function exercises for presbylaryngis: a multidimensional assessment of treatment outcomes. The Annals of otology, rhinology, and laryngology, 119(7), 460–467. https://doi.org/10.1177/000348941011900706
  • Tay, E. Y., Phyland, D. J., & Oates, J. (2012). The effect of vocal function exercises on the voices of aging community choral singers. Journal of voice : official journal of the Voice Foundation, 26(5), 672.e19–672.e6.72E27. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvoice.2011.12.014

About the Author: Kristie Knickerbocker, MS, CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist and singing voice specialist in Fort Worth, Texas. She evaluates and rehabilitates voice, upper airway disorders and swallowing at her private practice, ATEMPO Voice Center, and lectures on voice science internationally. She is a classically trained mezzo soprano with a minor in vocal performance from Texas Christian University. She has collaborated on and authored multiple peer reviewed published research articles about her community-based voice specialty clinic. She continues to develop a line of instantly downloadable voice assessment and voice therapy materials on TPT or her ATEMPO voice center website. Follow her on Pinterest, on Instagram or like her on Facebook. Kristie mentors on voice, upper airway, business and private practice through www.atempovoicecenter.com and provides continuing education courses through www.passaggioeducation.com.


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