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#1 2011-03-11 16:19:42

singingmastermind
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Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

Over the years that I've been helping people with their voices (all types, styles, ages, ranges, etc.) I have found that there is one muscle that either hinders your voice in a big way or helps it:  THE SINGING TONGUE!

I don't know if there is a thread for this subject so I'm starting one.

I teach some very basic principles on this subject and wonder what everyone thinks about what happens if your tongue is not forward in your mouth when you sing.

Last edited by singingmastermind (2011-03-11 16:45:23)

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2011-03-11 16:19:42

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#2 2011-03-11 19:52:54

VIDEOHERE
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

joy, i purchased your download tutorial on the tongue, and the exercises helped me relax it and keep it controlled.

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#3 2011-03-11 21:04:14

Stan
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

I cant keep my tongue down flat...its so damn hard..

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#4 2011-03-11 21:10:40

joshual
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

For the tone i want to achieve i always try to keep it as loose as possible. Richie kotzen is doing that all the time ;-)

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#5 2011-03-11 21:45:08

VIDEOHERE
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

joshual wrote:

For the tone i want to achieve i always try to keep it as loose as possible. Richie kotzen is doing that all the time ;-)

hey joshual, how's it going with the richie kotzen...any tips on how you get his sound?

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#6 2011-03-12 00:51:19

singingmastermind
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

VIDEOHERE wrote:

joy, i purchased your download tutorial on the tongue, and the exercises helped me relax it and keep it controlled.

Totally happy that it helped you!  Amazing how some very simple tongue techniques can make the difference, isn't it?

And thanks for the shout-out about it!

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#7 2011-03-12 00:53:55

singingmastermind
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

joshual wrote:

For the tone i want to achieve i always try to keep it as loose as possible. Richie kotzen is doing that all the time ;-)

Yeah, loose as possible, that's the way.

I try to think of a dog who has been running like a maniac for a couple of miles, and then starts panting when he stops.  His tongue is SO loose that it hangs out of the side of his mouth.

He doesn't think about it....he just runs and then pants.

Singing is sometimes like that!

Last edited by singingmastermind (2011-03-12 00:54:21)

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#8 2011-03-12 01:01:43

singingmastermind
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

Stan wrote:

I cant keep my tongue down flat...its so damn hard..

Sorry you are having trouble with it.  Tongues tend to be untamed beasts!

I remember the trouble I used to have with mine.  I didn't understand much back when I first started taking lessons, but my teacher was always trying to get me to relax my jaw.  Only problem was he didn't tell me how a tight tongue and a tight jaw are connected to one another.  Nor did he give me any concrete tongue exercises.

I had to create my own. 

That's why I created the download VIDEOHERE mentioned above.  I figured that it should be easier for people to learn how to control their tongues than it was for me!

Meanwhile, if you read what I wrote about a dog running and then panting, try doing a dog pant breathing exercise and then letting your tongue hang loose, like an exhausted dog. 

Try not to make it flat.  Simply learn to relax it at your command first.  The flat thing will come later.

And let me know how it feels and if you can sense any tongue relaxation at all.

Lots of times this stuff has to do with a singing mindset.  I'm working on some lessons about that too.

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#9 2011-03-12 08:00:35

Wildcat
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

VIDEOHERE wrote:

joy, i purchased your download tutorial on the tongue, and the exercises helped me relax it and keep it controlled.

Is this it? http://www.singingmastermind.com/singin … ng-tongue/

I know you mentioned this a while ago and have been considering getting it, but I feel a little lost on the site and want to make sure I get the right product.

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#10 2011-03-12 11:54:08

joshual
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From: Toulouse, France
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

VIDEOHERE wrote:

joshual wrote:

For the tone i want to achieve i always try to keep it as loose as possible. Richie kotzen is doing that all the time ;-)

hey joshual, how's it going with the richie kotzen...any tips on how you get his sound?

it's going good, as i don't practice much (too much work).

For the tips i can say twang a lot and always try to keep a light tone, that is really a problem for me, and you want some raspy tone, i just push a little more and bring the soft palate down. that's all i have for the moment lol. What amaze me with Kotzen is that sensation of him keeping his throat so open and relax. And also he have such a perfect connection with support and power. It's just so hard. In a sentence he can comes from raspy and powerfull tone to a such light controlled tone. it seems so easy for him...

Yeah, loose as possible, that's the way.

I try to think of a dog who has been running like a maniac for a couple of miles, and then starts panting when he stops.  His tongue is SO loose that it hangs out of the side of his mouth.

He doesn't think about it....he just runs and then pants.

Singing is sometimes like that!

Yep but the problem is that i have a natural wiiiide tongue lol. And it's hard for medialisation i often lisp...

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#11 2011-03-12 20:31:43

VIDEOHERE
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

Wildcat wrote:

VIDEOHERE wrote:

joy, i purchased your download tutorial on the tongue, and the exercises helped me relax it and keep it controlled.

Is this it? http://www.singingmastermind.com/singin … ng-tongue/

I know you mentioned this a while ago and have been considering getting it, but I feel a little lost on the site and want to make sure I get the right product.

yes, that's it...joy's tutorial is very helpful because she also goes in how the tongue relates to other parts of the voice.

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#12 2011-03-15 00:58:32

singingmastermind
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

joshual wrote:

Yep but the problem is that i have a natural wiiiide tongue lol. And it's hard for medialisation i often lisp...

I'm thinking that a naturally wide tongue should make no difference in developing the power of your tongue muscle.

So now I'm curious about what kind of specific tongue exercises do you do?  Meaning, exercises that are meant to strengthen the control over your tongue in general, not necessarily for any particular effect, sound or style.

What I've found from teaching so many people about the power of their voices is that they often try to get a certain style or sound out of their voice without really knowing how to use the power of their tongue and other muscles important to singing.

That's why I'm curious about what specific tongue exercises you use.

Thanks,
Joy

Last edited by singingmastermind (2011-03-15 00:58:46)

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#13 2011-03-15 02:53:19

singingmastermind
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

CunoDante wrote:

Hi Joy,

When you speak of keeping the tongue forward, I'm getting the impression you're talking about keeping the tip forward based on your article "Singing Tongue Vowels". Is this the same thing you're talking about here in this thread? When I speak of keeping the tongue forward, I'm referring to keeping the back portion of the tongue away from the back wall of the throat. I just wanted to make that clarification about what I wrote.

~~Dante~~

Hi.  Well, yes and no.  The "Singing Tongue Vowels" article deals specifically with the shapes of a few vowels. 

In the case of exercising the tongue to be able to keep the tongue forward from the back of the throat like you are talking about, I have developed a series of specific exercises to facilitate that important concept.

I find that focusing on the tip of the tongue makes it easier to keep it forward, away from the back of the throat.

I hope that answers your question.

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#14 2011-03-15 03:26:59

singingmastermind
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

CunoDante wrote:

Thanks, Joy, that does answer my question. I understand more of where you're coming from now.

Great.  Thanks.

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#15 2011-03-15 11:46:05

geno
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

singingmastermind - since you are talking about tongues on this thread I've got a question:  On a different thread it has been mentioned that Adam Lambert will stick the tip of his tongue out when singing very high (in the E5 to A5) range, and we were wondering why.  My theory was that he is going for a high larynx position and he is simply trying to create more space in the back of his throat by moving the tongue forward.  As the larynx comes up, there is less space for resonance.  Care to comment?

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#16 2011-03-15 14:06:05

jonpall
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

In order to do distortion with the false folds, for example, usually the back of the tongue has to move backwards and up, almost touching the molars. So it's not always that the tongue has to be forwards and flat (or neutral). In fact, many heavy metal singers would have that distortion on constantly.

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#17 2011-03-16 07:56:08

PopVlad
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

Hi Singingmastermind,

It's great to have you around!

A dumb question))

Since the whole point of keeping one's tongue forward is to open up the back of the throat, would opening the jaw wider and wider be beneficial for that as well?

The assumption is that since I need to keep my tongue next  to the bottom teach (or lip), the wider I open my jaw, the further away from the back of the throat the tongue gets.

So, is there a jaw \ toungue relationship?

Cheers,
Vlad

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#18 2011-03-16 10:51:33

akarawd
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

Keeping the tip of my tongue forward, the rest of it relaxed and my jaw "hanging" open, has helped me get rid of excessive strain.

I would like to know the answers especially to Guitartrek's and Jonpall's questions.




PS. Thanks Videohere for recommending this video and thank you singingmastermind for releasing it - I'm looking forward to the next ones.

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#19 2011-03-16 12:05:36

jonpall
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

akarawd wrote:

I would like to know the answers especially to Guitartrek's and Jonpall's questions.

Most vocal teachers would answer my question with "no you don't wanna do that screaming shit, grasshopper. You'll wreck your voice". But from what I've learned, a lot of that raspy stuff is done with techniques that may contradict traditional theories on singing.

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#20 2011-03-16 17:36:05

VIDEOHERE
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

akarawd wrote:

Keeping the tip of my tongue forward, the rest of it relaxed and my jaw "hanging" open, has helped me get rid of excessive strain.

I would like to know the answers especially to Guitartrek's and Jonpall's questions.




PS. Thanks Videohere for recommending this video and thank you singingmastermind for releasing it - I'm looking forward to the next ones.

my pleasure, joy is one busy lady...i shot her an email to get her back here....lol!!!

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#21 2011-03-17 07:00:38

singingmastermind
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

VIDEOHERE:  ".... joy is one busy lady...i shot her an email to get her back here....lol!!!"
I didn't get that email yet, but I checked in here late late late tonight after doing a bunch of tech stuff on my SingBabySing site and trying to solve some tech issues on the SingingMastermind site too.

Hi Everyone!

Wow!  I am really excited by all your comments because I honestly believe that the tongue muscle, coupled with the breathing muscles are the most important ones that need super strength training!

So I apologize for not getting back sooner.  I have been doing some serious labor on my SingBabySing site http://singbabysing.com where I am creating products to reach people as early as I can so that the voice training starts from day 1 (and before).  Check it out for fun!

Now for a response to your great questions and comments:

guitartrek:  About Adam Lambert on those high notes.  I've never seen him actually stick out his tongue when singing (I mean beyond his lips) but the higher the larynx position, the more tension is created on the lower part of the tongue muscle.  He knows that to get up there he has to keep that throat open as much as possible while he is still going for his particular and unique sound.  And yes, bringing the tongue forward will keep that throat open.  They higher you sing, the more tension will increase in the muscles (tongue, cords, diaphragm, abs, etc.).  That's why it's so crucial to strengthen the tongue muscle (or the diaphragm, for that matter).  Think about your biceps.  If you want to do heavy lifting, you don't do it all at once, right?  You have to build up the strength of the muscle.  All the muscles used in singing - and there are a ton of them - need to be strengthened to get the power you want out of your voice, no matter what style you sing or want to sing.  I hope this answer helps.

jonpall:  "So it's not always that the tongue has to be forwards and flat (or neutral)."  Fair enough.  But think of it this way:  if a singer has exercised the tongue in specific ways to have more control over the muscle itself, so that he or she can choose to manipulate it for specific stylistic sounds, then there will be less chance of vocal damage, which is what any heavy metal singer has to be really careful about in order to keep singing for years to come.  About the traditional theories on sing technique.  I am convinced that everyone has to find their own comfort zone when they sing.  If it is heavy metal screaming, then whatever the person does, they have find ways, traditional and non-traditional in order to protect their voices.  So, again, muscle power!

Vlad: "Since the whole point of keeping one's tongue forward is to open up the back of the throat, would opening the jaw wider and wider be beneficial for that as well?"  Not at all a dumb questions!  In fact, it is a SUPER important question!  I'm so glad you asked it.  The quick answer is NO!  In fact, doing that will cause other problems with other muscles that then set in motion more tension elsewhere that you have to overcome by adjusting something else.  Whew, it gets complicated.  One thing that I learned when I first began taking voice lessons (long ago) was that this idea of opening your mouth as wide as you can is not at all necessary for producing a great sound.  In fact, I always tell people that if you can't sing with your mouth mostly closed, then you haven't found your resonance yet.  You're still trying to "make" the resonance happen by slamming down the jaw and not knowing how to get the most out of the tongue muscle so that it doesn't get in the way of the sound.  I think people get this idea from choir teachers who tell the singers -- usually in a very exaggerated manner -- "OPEN YOUR MOUTH, GET YOUR JAW DOWN, OPEN YOUR THROAT!"  No offense if anyone here works with choirs but this drives me crazy because they usually do not clarify what they mean or how to get the sound they want.  So, Vlad, try singing on the open vowel sound, "Aw" in front of a mirror. Don't use words or even much of a melody at first.  See if you can get a clear resonant tone with your mouth open as little as possible.  I guarantee you it will get you to thinking in a different way about where the sound comes from!  Hope that helps.

akarawd:  "thank you singingmastermind for releasing it - I'm looking forward to the next ones."  You are most welcome and I'm looking forward to releasing more!  Also, try what I suggested to Vlad as an experiment.

CunoDante:  "I notice that lots of singers, myself included, stick the tongues out of the mouth a tiny bit for the very highest range."  I'd like to get everyone who is posting on this thread into a room and make of video of what everyone looks like sticking out their tongues to get the high notes. :P   It would take me to another vocal exercise that I created that involves nothing but sheer authentic laughter.

Whew!  I think I answered everyone!  Let me know if I missed something.

I like you all, by the way, and want to especially thank VIDEOHERE for talking me into getting involved with this forum.

Last edited by singingmastermind (2011-03-17 07:16:19)

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#22 2011-03-17 07:51:20

joshual
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

Stevie wonder often stick his tongue out for High parts ;-)

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#23 2011-03-17 09:51:49

akarawd
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

In fact, I always tell people that if you can't sing with your mouth mostly closed, then you haven't found your resonance yet.

I've been watching Tim Ripper Owens perform some priest songs and although his mouth is mostly closed, he gets this huge, unhindered, resonant sound across
so I tend to believe this is true.

If it is heavy metal screaming, then whatever the person does

If I may ask

a) What in your opinion should be the position and shape of the tongue as far as this type of singing (HM screaming) is concerned ?
b) Do you agree with the argument that the creation of distortion benefits from/requires the back of the tongue to rise ?
c) Could the tip still touch the front teeth in this case ?

I find this thread extremely intriguing.

Kind Regards,
Thanos

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#24 2011-03-17 12:24:29

jonpall
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

Then there's Adam Lambert who opens his mouth quite a bit.

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#25 2011-03-17 20:32:52

VIDEOHERE
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

CunoDante wrote:

What a great reply, Joy! It would be great if we could all get together in a room and learn from each other. Things would be so much clearer than the words on a page. I do have a question for you though.

singingmastermind wrote:

Vlad: "Since the whole point of keeping one's tongue forward is to open up the back of the throat, would opening the jaw wider and wider be beneficial for that as well?"  Not at all a dumb questions!  In fact, it is a SUPER important question!  I'm so glad you asked it.  The quick answer is NO!  In fact, doing that will cause other problems with other muscles that then set in motion more tension elsewhere that you have to overcome by adjusting something else.  Whew, it gets complicated.  One thing that I learned when I first began taking voice lessons (long ago) was that this idea of opening your mouth as wide as you can is not at all necessary for producing a great sound.  In fact, I always tell people that if you can't sing with your mouth mostly closed, then you haven't found your resonance yet.  You're still trying to "make" the resonance happen by slamming down the jaw and not knowing how to get the most out of the tongue muscle so that it doesn't get in the way of the sound.  I think people get this idea from choir teachers who tell the singers -- usually in a very exaggerated manner -- "OPEN YOUR MOUTH, GET YOUR JAW DOWN, OPEN YOUR THROAT!"  No offense if anyone here works with choirs but this drives me crazy because they usually do not clarify what they mean or how to get the sound they want.  So, Vlad, try singing on the open vowel sound, "Aw" in front of a mirror. Don't use words or even much of a melody at first.  See if you can get a clear resonant tone with your mouth open as little as possible.  I guarantee you it will get you to thinking in a different way about where the sound comes from!  Hope that helps.

Would you be able to give an example or two of someone opening the mouth too much? I'm curious as to what exactly you're referring to. I have a few ideas, but I'm not sure which you are talking about.

~~Dante~~

very interesting discussion. i believe there are times, at least for me personally, where an opening of the mouth (i like to say "tall" instead of "wide") in conjunction with an yawn or apple biting configuration very helpful. opening tall without the yawn configuration, yes, i think can close you up in the back of the mouth.

what do you folks think?

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#26 2011-03-18 06:43:40

akarawd
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

In fact, I always tell people that if you can't sing with your mouth mostly closed, then you haven't found your resonance yet.
I've been watching Tim Ripper Owens perform some priest songs and although his mouth is mostly closed, he gets this huge, unhindered, resonant sound across
so I tend to believe this is true.

If it is heavy metal screaming, then whatever the person does
If I may ask

a) What in your opinion should be the position and shape of the tongue as far as this type of singing (HM screaming) is concerned ?
b) Do you agree with the argument that the creation of distortion benefits from/requires the back of the tongue to rise ?
c) Could the tip still touch the front teeth in this case ?

I find this thread extremely intriguing.

Kind Regards,
Thanos

Bumping the thread as I'm really interested in getting my questions answered.

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#27 2011-03-18 10:54:34

jonpall
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

akaraws (Thanos), according to the CVT book:

a) Back of tongue moved back and upwards.
b) Yes.
c) Try saying/singing "NG" (which moves the back of the tongue back and up) and see if the tip of your tongue touches the front teeth. I think you shouldn't worry too much about this one. If it does, great. If it doesn't, great - as long as you're getting your distorted sound. It may depend on the length of your tongue. Some people probably have longer tongues than other. Gene Simmons probably could.

But it would be interesting to hear Joy's thoughts on this. I'm sure she can teach us a lot so it's good to have her on board with us.

Last edited by jonpall (2011-03-18 10:55:48)

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#28 2011-03-18 15:01:33

singingmastermind
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

Hi Guys,

I love this forum!

Last night I started answering the questions and was not satisfied with what I wrote and because it was late at night again, I decided to wait and give more in depth thoughts to this important thread.

You all deserve that from me. (my motto at http://singingmastermind.com is "You Deserve to Be Heard" :))

So, I thank you in advance for your patience.  I may not get to the answers today because I have several projects that have deadlines looming and need to work with a programmer and yadda yadda yadda.  You know the drill.

I do want to quickly clarify one thing though, before I have to go into a Skype call session in three minutes.

The open mouth/closed mouth discussion:  The idea is that forcing your mouth (or your tongue/cords/breathing muscles, in short any muscles) into any position will cause tension somewhere else in your instrument.  Each muscle is somehow attached (either directly or indirectly) to another muscle, so it isn't about trying to have a closed mouth (or an open mouth) it's all about finding how to totally release your tones in ways that set you utterly free to soar above anything, anybody and most of all your own fears.

That's all I can say at the moment.....gotta run....get back to you as soon as I can.

Joy

Last edited by singingmastermind (2011-03-18 15:02:55)

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#29 2011-03-18 16:11:14

jonpall
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

Good post, Joy!

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#30 2011-03-18 18:01:05

Steven Fraser
Charter Member of TMV Voice Council
From: Plano, Texas
Registered: 2008-11-22
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

singingmastermind wrote:

Hi Guys,

...The open mouth/closed mouth discussion:  The idea is that forcing your mouth (or your tongue/cords/breathing muscles, in short any muscles) into any position will cause tension somewhere else in your instrument.  Each muscle is somehow attached (either directly or indirectly) to another muscle, so it isn't about trying to have a closed mouth (or an open mouth) it's all about finding how to totally release your tones in ways that set you utterly free to soar above anything, anybody and most of all your own fears.

Joy:  Extending some of these thoughts, I want to offer a bit of the 'why' of jaw/lip positionings that are used in so many different ways by singers.

In short, in addition to the strong influence of tongue shape, mouth shape/opening size and jaw position affect the positions of the resonances that we interpret as vowels.

For many notes, small changes in tongue, jaw and lip position/shape can be used to tweak these resonances so that they align advantageously with the harmonics of the sung tone... and the singer gets not only clarity of vowel, but additional power, 'ring' and a noticably easier production... less (or no) muscular strain at the level of the larynx.

The particular positioning of these multiple vocal tract articulators (used here because each of them changes a physical parameter of the vocal tract) changes the tuning of these resonances in well-known ways, just like the laryngeal height changes the overall lenght of the vocal tract's 'natural' resonances.

With this as background, the reason singers take different approaches is that they like the way their voice sounds and feels using them.  It suits their aesthetic choice as artists, matches the repertoire that they prefer to sing, and with it their voices function well and predictably.

Adam Lambert drops his jaw significantly for the same reason that Cab Calloway and many broadway belters do and did... it tunes the first vowel resonance higher, so it can align with the 2nd harmonic.  This alignment provides power and clarity of a certain type.   Other singers use the more closed mouth shape for the same reasons that Luciano Pavarotti did over much of his range... it lowers the 2nd vowel resonance down into an area where it can align with the 3rd or 4th harmonic, and overall helps to make the vocal tract more inertant as well.  Female singers that like the sound of a 'heady' mix in the middle voice use it too, for the reasons that it tunes the 1st vowel resonance lower as well.

All this discussion is centered around the vitally important aspects of tongue position and action.  The tongue is the central controller of the vowel shaping, and works in collaboration with vocal tract length, jaw position, lip position, and palate position.  To get a voice really working freely, all the parts have to be free to move to their optimum position.

I hope this helps,


Best Regards,

Steven Fraser

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#31 2011-03-18 19:45:40

singingmastermind
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

Steven Fraser wrote:

singingmastermind wrote:

Hi Guys,

...The open mouth/closed mouth discussion:  The idea is that forcing your mouth (or your tongue/cords/breathing muscles, in short any muscles) into any position will cause tension somewhere else in your instrument.  Each muscle is somehow attached (either directly or indirectly) to another muscle, so it isn't about trying to have a closed mouth (or an open mouth) it's all about finding how to totally release your tones in ways that set you utterly free to soar above anything, anybody and most of all your own fears.

Joy:  Extending some of these thoughts, I want to offer a bit of the 'why' of jaw/lip positionings that are used in so many different ways by singers....In short, in addition to the strong influence of tongue shape, mouth shape/opening size and jaw position affect the positions of the resonances that we interpret as vowels....With this as background, the reason singers take different approaches is that they like the way their voice sounds and feels using them.  It suits their aesthetic choice as artists, matches the repertoire that they prefer to sing, and with it their voices function well and predictably.... All this discussion is centered around the vitally important aspects of tongue position and action.  The tongue is the central controller of the vowel shaping, and works in collaboration with vocal tract length, jaw position, lip position, and palate position.  To get a voice really working freely, all the parts have to be free to move to their optimum position.

I hope this helps,

Steven,

Thanks for getting into the technical aspects of the importance of the tongue muscles in collaboration with the things you mentioned.  I call these "collaborators" the "tongue partners" and the idea of collaboration is excellent.

I collaborate with professional performers and writers and the primary idea that comes across from these types of collaborations is that the project itself is of primary importance.  In other words, it is the story, the lyrics, the music, the characters, the performance, etc., that have to be the focus to get to the end result of the collaborative creative work.  Those of us who create and do such things, continually have to check in our egos at the door (not always an easy choice :)). 

When we work together it is ultimately not about us as writers or performers individually.  It is about creating something (a song, a concert, a book) that will be compelling to other people.

I find it to be a very humbling but powerfully liberating process.

The same is true with singing, with the tongue and its partners.  The primary "project" objective, if you will, is the end result of the sound that comes out of the performer.  This sound is the individual and unique goal of the artist, which is what I understand you to mean about the choices they make in how they use their voices that feel good and sound good to them.

Sometimes the "ego" of our tongue, or palate/lips/vocal cords, etc., has to give way to one of the other ones until the sound that comes out satisfies us when we are making it.

Any negative tension that pulls away from the goal has to be faced and fixed by a positive tension that takes us to the way we want to sound.

But none of us can face the negative tension for anyone else.  That, at least in my experience, is the hardest part of all.

As the old saying goes, the chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

I mentioned that old saying to someone yesterday like this:  "If you put all of your effort into the strongest link of the chain and neglect shoring up or strengthening the weakest one, your hard work can fly out the window in a flash and that is not what you want."

It's easy to strengthen that thing in our voice that is already strong, but much harder to search for and strengthen the one that is persistently weak.

Kind of like life itself, don't you think?

At the end of the day, as you have said, it's all about each of us finding what works and is comfortable so that we can release the powerful emotional messages that lie deep inside of us that we long to communicate to others.

I truly appreciate your thoughts here.

Thanks again,
Joy

Last edited by singingmastermind (2011-03-18 20:09:28)

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#32 2011-03-18 20:35:52

singingmastermind
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

This cracked me up and I thought if you all hadn't seen it yet, you'd like to.  To me, it's a great example of not taking yourself too seriously, while at the same time using powerful vocal techniques (tongue and all its partners).

Enjoy!

Last edited by singingmastermind (2011-03-18 20:36:58)

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#33 2011-03-18 21:36:14

singingmastermind
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

akarawd wrote:

a) What in your opinion should be the position and shape of the tongue as far as this type of singing (HM screaming) is concerned ?
b) Do you agree with the argument that the creation of distortion benefits from/requires the back of the tongue to rise ?
c) Could the tip still touch the front teeth in this case ?

I find this thread extremely intriguing.

Kind Regards,
Thanos

Bumping the thread as I'm really interested in getting my questions answered.

Hi Thanos,

Very good questions, although I am not sure what you mean by bumping the thread.

Here are my combined answers to your questions:

I'm more and more convinced that the tongue has to stay as relaxed as possible for just about everything having to do with singing. By relaxed, however, I don't mean limp.  I mean under your control because you have worked the muscle until you can move it anywhere you like at will without interrupting resonance.

The main thing that I really want to emphasize is that the first consideration is having the basics in place, or what CVT calls the 3 principles in place.  Remember that the tongue is used to shape the vowels and the vowels all require different positions for the back of the tongue.  Distortion is an effect, as you know, that is added on to basic and free vocal production. 

Everything that I respect that is emphasized about using distortion has to do with first building a strong basic vocal technique in which you know your instrument, all its many parts and how they work together.  It is always emphasized to build that first.  CVT is clear about this as well as others who do the research and coaching.

The tip of the tongue can stay forward, and I believe, should stay forward.  But not pushed forward if that causes negative tension elsewhere that will end up in hoarseness.

The distortion effect comes from a different place in your instrument.  Concentrate on having control over your tongue so that it doesn't get in the way.  Experiment and observe what happens to your sound.  If you like it, keep it, unless it causes hoarseness. Observe with your eyes closed where the tension works for you and where it does not. 

This is the balancing act.  The use of the tongue and its partners require a combination or balance of forces, meaning a negative and positive tension in the tongue (and its partners) to get any desired effect.

Hope that helps!

Joy

Last edited by singingmastermind (2011-03-18 21:38:13)

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#34 2011-03-19 06:01:34

akarawd
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

Thanks Jon and Joy for taking the time to answer.

Jon, I'm exploring these facts so as to see what works. One thing I've noticed is that when I lower my soft palate to create distortion, my tongue tends to rise in the back (although it's still touching the front teeth).

Joy,  what you're suggesting sounds very sensible ; keeping the tongue under control so as to use it in the shape and position that fits each singing situation best - although in general
keeping it's tip forward seems be beneficial in most cases - for me at least.

Thanks again, I appreciate it !
Thanos

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#35 2011-03-19 09:14:12

jonpall
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

Thanos, when doing distortion with the false folds, especially on high pitches, raising the back of the tongue up and back is usually a required thing, so it looks like you're doing well.

That clip from Joy was funny :) . Although I do think it's much harder to sing with distortion effects and make actual melodies at the same time. ;)

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#36 2011-03-21 05:21:27

akarawd
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

Cheers Jon !

Lately, when I yawn, I try to stick my tongue as far out of my mouth as I can as I tend to believe it supplements this whole "tongue out" approach
that has been very helpful at keeping an unhindered tone. I've got to admit, sometimes it's next to impossible to keep it out when yawning but
the more I try the more I can control it.

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#37 2011-03-21 09:40:05

voicewisdom
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

Here are some tongue ideas:

1. It is possible to activate different parts of the tongue almost independently. There are lots of muscles in the tongue, and different ones will activate or release it, depending on the vocal task.

2. The tongue needs to be as low as possible at the back at all times. The space at the back of the mouth, between the back walls, the soft palate and tongue needs to be as large as possible to maximise volume and roundness of tone. The tongue at the back  moves upwards for certain consonants, eg k, g, but this should be as brief as possible. For vowels like EE, the middle part of the tongue curls up and forward, but the back should stay low.

3. For vowels alone, the tongue tip can even be curled upwards slightly (as though moving it towards, but not touching, the ridge behind the top teeth.) Placido Domingo uses this to brilliant effect in creating clean, bright, ringing vowels.

4. Rather than thinking about tongue 'position', it can sometimes be useful to think of tongue 'behaviour'. In particular, several tongue muscles attach to parts of the laryngeal mechanism ('voicebox'). These muscles, if tight, pull on the larynx with two results: a) the larynx is raised, and the throat is narrowed, and both these actions reduce the size of the resonating tract (chamber) so impairing vocal quality; b) the pull on the larynx limits the ability of its parts to ‘tilt’ how they need to for singing high notes easily and efficiently.

5. Some of the consonants (like ‘g’) can be lazily performed – the action of the tongue is too slow, tight, and indistinct. The result is that the letter sounds unclear or ‘sticky’. Don’t try to compensate for this by lots of jaw movement. A ‘g’ can be performed with no jaw activity at all, as long as the larynx is free, and the tongue is gymnastic enough at the back – practise in a mirror.

These are the main reasons the tongue is so critical in singing. Here are two of my videos for freeing the tongue (4 exercises in all). There are many more tongue exercises than these for solving different vocal problems, but I don’t want to overload this post!

Freeing the tongue - part 1


Freeing the tongue - part 2


Cheers. Alexander
http://www.OxfordSingingLessons.co.uk
http://www.youtube.com/voicewisdom


Alexander Massey (Oxford, UK)

http://www.OxfordSingingLessons.co.uk/resources.html - free tips and articles
http://www.youtube.com/voicewisdom - singing training techniques demonstrated

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#38 2011-03-21 14:01:56

jonpall
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

Great to have you on board, Alexander! I've seen some of your video clips and really like them! Cheers.

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#39 2011-03-21 15:41:21

rachna12
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

These are really good one and worthy to visit here. I think so that this one is great totally relevant to the post and it was good experience to read

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#40 2011-03-21 16:09:03

jonpall
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

Just don't do those tongue exercises while typing on your computer and looking at the women in the office at the same time.

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#41 2011-03-21 23:56:36

singingmastermind
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

Alexander, I love your 4 tongue exercise demonstrations and your terminology about tongue behaviors rather than positions is great.  "Positions" gives the impression of something that is static, doesn't it, whereas "behaviors" leaves one with the idea of something moving, flexible.  Great stuff!  Thanks for videos and comments!  Looking forward to more of your ideas.

jonpall:  Although I do think it's much harder to sing with distortion effects and make actual melodies at the same time.

Couldn't agree more!  Funny comment about women at the office from you too.

I wonder if there are any other women commenting on this thread or am I the only one?:)

raphaels:  That tongue swallowing exercise... would I be useful/helpful to do it a million times a day, like while sitting at the office, or are their diminishing returns?

I think that anything you can continue to do strengthen the tongue muscle will give you exponential returns because you will also begin to become more aware of the muscles around the tongue that Alexander mentions in the videos.

akarawd:  sometimes it's next to impossible to keep it out when yawning but
the more I try the more I can control it.

akarawd:  Keep at it.  That powerful tongue muscle will yield to you!


rachna12:  These are really good one and worthy to visit here. I think so that this one is great totally relevant to the post and it was good experience to read

rachna12, welcome to the singing tongue!  Would love to hear what you are doing to strengthen your tongue muscle for singing!

As always, I'm loving this thread and this forum!

Joy

Last edited by singingmastermind (2011-03-21 23:59:23)

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#42 2011-03-22 08:56:25

voicewisdom
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

I wouldn't think so much in terms of tongue strength. For most people, I suspect the tongue is plenty strong enough - the problem is that it is using that strength to sabotage the voice unwittingly. Freeing and relaxing the tongue is about disarming its normal strength. Having said that, certain sounds (like 'g'), need very well targeted strength to make a clear sound.


Alexander Massey (Oxford, UK)

http://www.OxfordSingingLessons.co.uk/resources.html - free tips and articles
http://www.youtube.com/voicewisdom - singing training techniques demonstrated

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#43 2011-03-22 16:25:19

singingmastermind
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

voicewisdom wrote:

For most people, I suspect the tongue is plenty strong enough - the problem is that it is using that strength to sabotage the voice unwittingly....need very well targeted strength to make a clear sound.

Great clarification of what I said.

Absolutely true!

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Now we get into what causes the unintended sabotage.

And that takes us into the voice mindset.

I may have to start another thread for that topic alone.  In my experience with performance and training voices of all ages, it is even more foundational than knowing how to use the muscles themselves.

From the research I have studied, I believe that it actually begins in the womb, before we are born!

Now there's a comment that should stir some ideas! ;)

What does everyone else think?

Thanks,
Joy

Last edited by singingmastermind (2011-03-22 16:30:00)

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#44 2011-03-22 17:09:44

Martin Holmes
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

singingmastermind,

I'm curious as to how the tounge is related to other "tongue partners" and how it can hinder your phonation? :)

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#45 2011-03-22 21:59:29

singingmastermind
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

Martin Holmes wrote:

singingmastermind,

I'm curious as to how the tounge is related to other "tongue partners" and how it can hinder your phonation? :)

Great question, Martin!

I wrote a short article about the tongue partners on my website that gives an overview, if you'd like to read that.  http://www.singingmastermind.com/your-singing-tongue1/

I hope I won't offend you in any way, but I tend not to use much formal terminology (I let other people do that), although I am super familiar with it since I have a degree and graduate studies in voice production and have done a lot of private training and teaching, plus professional performances.

My approach is to take formal vocal methods/techniques/terms and make them more user friendly.  People tend to think I'm pretty wacky at times, but I find that humor and not taking ourselves too seriously is the best way to help people, at least in my world.

Wow, I just put out a bunch of words!

Okay, so all of that is to say that you may not see the word "phonation" in my answer or in the article. :)  http://www.singingmastermind.com/your-singing-tongue1/.

If you look at the first picture on that page (after the "I Can Has Cheeseburger" type cat!) you will see how narrow is the area through which the sound has to travel in order to get up and out of your body through your mouth and into your sinus cavities (crucial for good resonance). 

When the tongue is pulled back in a tense manner, this will cause the tongue partners (epiglottis, etc.) or muscles and other things around it (see the picture) to adjust for the tension.  The energy that it takes to do that will interfere with the sound itself (can muffle it).  This, in turn, can put stress on the vocal cords because you will have to try and push the sound out if you don't know how to guide the muscles into doing your bidding, especially the tongue. 

Eliminating stress from the vocal cords is another reason why posture is so important too, but that is an entirely different subject.

Your tongue is kind of like a boss, in a way.  Everyone on the job wants to do their job in the best possible way because it makes them feel good (or maybe they will get a bonus) , but if the boss doesn't have his or her act together, everyone else suffers, you know what I mean?  But when the boss "partners" with his or her workers, the end result is better quality and happier people.

I hope that begins to answer your question. 

Joy
P.S.  Check out Wikipedia's explanation of phonation:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phonation  Makes me want to run and hide!  I wonder why voice teachers just don't use a simple term based on the origin of the word from the Greek:  from Greek phōnē ‘sound, voice’ + -ation; or even mores simply: sound+voice = sounds made by the voice.  We can make it more complicated, but why?  Getting a great tone quality (whatever your style) is hard enough, right?

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#46 2011-03-23 01:25:04

VIDEOHERE
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

i like it explained in simple terms myself because you can always do a technical read anytime.

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#47 2011-03-31 19:49:01

blackstar
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

Hey guys, check this out:

http://medicalcenter.osu.edu/PatientEd/ … e-Exer.pdf

The first exercise is what Alexander uses in his tongue freeing video.

Thoughts on the other exercises?

Edited to add:

I just found this one too, the last exercises seem helpful:

http://www.sld.cu/galerias/pdf/sitios/r … hening.pdf

Last edited by blackstar (2011-03-31 19:51:31)


Animals Are Not Ours to Eat.  Animals Are Not Ours to Wear. Animals Are Not Ours to Experiment On. Animals Are Not Ours to Use for Entertainment. Animals Are Not Ours to Abuse in Any Way. --PETA

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#48 2011-03-31 20:53:20

singingmastermind
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

blackstar:  There are some interesting exercises in here.  Thanks for the links!

Last edited by singingmastermind (2011-03-31 20:53:32)

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#49 2011-03-31 21:00:44

blackstar
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

singingmastermind wrote:

blackstar:  There are some interesting exercises in here.  Thanks for the links!

Glad you liked them Joy :)


Animals Are Not Ours to Eat.  Animals Are Not Ours to Wear. Animals Are Not Ours to Experiment On. Animals Are Not Ours to Use for Entertainment. Animals Are Not Ours to Abuse in Any Way. --PETA

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#50 2011-03-31 21:09:09

voicewisdom
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Re: Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

The exercise sheets that blackstar found are interesting.

A significant number of them are designed for muscle 'strengthening' as opposed to relaxation or release. Strengthening can help for swallowing, chewing etc, but can be counter-productive for vocalisation. Muscles used for chewing, biting, spitting, swallowing etc need to be used quite differently for vocalisation often. Only some of the exercises given here would be useful for singers - some could actually make a singer MORE tense in the muscles.

The ones advised for improving speech and articulation may not help all singers. When a person is speaking normally (ie without significant breath support, or what bel canot tradition would teach as 'appoggio'), the muscles of articulation have to be quite active and percussive at times. With good breath support (appoggio), a singer has to work the articulation muscles LESS than in normal speech - the vowels and consonants will still be clear. Choral conductors often ask singers to 'spit the words out' - this is bad for the throat, and interferes with optimal function of the larynx. Untrained choral singers don't always have good breath support - over-enhanced articulation is a compensatory activity for inadequate breath support, and the reason so many choral singers get vocally tired.

The 'kuh' 'guh' exercise is a useful one from these sheets, as are the tongue sweeps and tongue protrusion, but I would say use the facial strengthening ones with caution.


Alexander Massey (Oxford, UK)

http://www.OxfordSingingLessons.co.uk/resources.html - free tips and articles
http://www.youtube.com/voicewisdom - singing training techniques demonstrated

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