Bob Lusk
HomeLibrary Folk ProgramsIrish Music PartySea Chantey/ColonialPeace and JusticeVocal Toning


Group Toning at the Kingston Healing Arbor


Toning is very old and basic to many traditional cultures. Much of religious chant involves toning. It consists of non-verbal conscious elongation of sounds, using the breath and voice, similar to sighing, moaning, chanting yawning and humming. It is usually started with a vowel sound such as AA, AH, EEE, II (Aye), OH OH, OOO (EWE). This is called the "seed sound" But the sound changes quickly and takes on a form of its own. It is much easier to do than to explain. It has applications for meditation, healing, musical performance, personal transformation and spiritual journeys.

Toning is more "free form" than singing. You don't have to be on key. Try and have fun with it. Any syllable or sound is OK. There is no "right" note. In a group, toners don't have to sing the same note or syllable at the same time. There is no "right" note. Any notes or sounds are OK - low or high . “All God's Critter's Got a Place in the Choir”. Toning requires no musical experience or equipment and can be done by anyone.

Topics include Group Intention, Chakra toning, Overtoning, Continuous Circular Toning, Mantras, Toning for healing, and Toning with Movement.


Chakra is a Sanskrit word meaning wheel or vortex. Toning the Chakras "tunes up" your body, mind, emotions and spirit by using the power of your own voice. There are seven chakras which are located at points along the spinal column.

1 Root-------------Uh
2 Pelvis-----------OO
3 Solar Plexus---OH
4 Heart------------AH
5 Throat-----------AYE
6 3rd eye----------EEE
7 Crown------------MMMM

There are several different chakra systems. Although there are some differences what is notable is that they are all very similar. The lower chakra's have deep sounds and the higher chakras sounds higher in pitch.


When people tone, there is usually an "Intention". An intention is our expectation of what we will "get out of" the session. It may be relaxation, a feeling of peace or stillness; or it could be to have more energy, to heal a wounded part of our body or psyche. We might want to ask questions and get answers from a deep inner part of ourselves.

We all have our individual intentions. We usually also have a group intention. The intention may be self love, for ourselves and our own voices. That we accept our voices by themselves and also the way they blend together. Their blending together is a reflection of the wonderful ways we blend together, both in harmony and dissonance. We should not be afraid to either blend in or to let our voice go in its own separate direction.


"Overtoning" refers to a process of creating more than one vocal sound at the same time and is similar to chanting techniques found in Tibet and Mongolia. Besides the mouth, sound can come or resonate from the nose, the sinuses, the top of the head, torso and many other parts of the body. You can also direct sound to different parts of the body to relax or energize physical or emotional trauma and feelings.

One of the easiest ways to create overtones is with the sound "OM” it is pronounced "ah oh mm". It is considered in India to be the universal sound because it starts in the back of the mouth and moves towards the front ending with the lips closed and vibrating. This it covers all possible positions of the mouth.

Toning for Healing

Using combinations of some of the above principles it is very easy to use toning to heal and nourish the body, mind and spirit. Toning is oxygenating and invigorating.