Have you ever thought about the positioning of your tongue?
For most people, when singing, there is little need to think about what the tongue is doing. Your mouth naturally falls into place as you enunciate each note.
So, it might surprise you to know that you can improve your technique greatly by considering things like tongue placement, jaw positioning, and the shape of your mouth. Let’s look a little closer at how the anatomy of your mouth can affect your voice.
You have probably already noticed how your tongue moves to help you say certain letters. But this is about more than vocalizing what you want to say. Your tongue also plays a huge part in your breathing technique.
For best singing results, your tongue should be relaxed in the bottom of your mouth. The tip should be resting lightly on the back of the front teeth. This ensures it does not crowd the mouth and is the optimal resting position – you should be training your tongue to sit here as often as possible.
If you tend to place your tongue up and at the back of your throat, you will struggle to breathe properly. Not only will this affect your singing, but it will have a knock-on effect on lots of other activities too. You may even be a snorer.
A tense jaw will make singing difficult, so it is important to ensure it is relaxed and not clenched. This may be difficult if you are performing and feeling nervous, but it will help to protect your vocal cords.
The problem with a tense jaw is that it is often indicative of tension elsewhere in the body. And if you are holding everything in as tight as you can, it is difficult to let anything beautiful out of your mouth. Also, if your jaw is stiff, you won’t be able to move it in a way that will allow you to produce the sounds you want.
Again, fixing this comes down to practice. You need to focus on moving your jaw down and releasing that tension. Facial exercises and in-mouth massage are also surprisingly effective.
The Soft Palate
Okay, so there’s not much you can do about your soft palate – it hangs out of the way where you have no control over its movement. However, there are exercises you can do to increase the space around your soft palate when singing to get the best sound.
In case you’re not sure, the soft palate is the doughy part at the back and top of your mouth. Its positioning makes it harder to understand, but if you watch yourself in a mirror and practice lifting and lowering it, you might get a better grasp of how your palate works. Certain sounds are great for this – the reason why dentists tell you to open wide and say AH is because it gives them a better view of your throat. Meanwhile, nasal sounds like NG lower the palate. So a great exercise is to switch back and forth between the two sounds to give you some control over your soft palate.
When you’re singing, your lips move into the right position to frame the words you are trying to expel. A tight jaw can make this difficult and can really affect your sound quality. Meanwhile, pursed lips will make your notes sound as strained as you look.
Lips trills are excellent exercises that help relax the lips and reduce overall stress in the body. Lips trills are exactly how they sound – you breathe out and vibrate your lips at the same time. You might feel silly, but they really do the trick!
The more you practice perfect mouth anatomy, the easier it will be to maintain – especially if you have to go up on stage and perform.
Sometimes, though, it can be easier to do these things with a coach – someone who can tell you if you are doing it right. Or who knows what is working and what is not. That is why you should work with a singing teacher. Whether you are brand new to the art of warbling or you have performed many times before, there is always something new to learn.
At the London Singing Institute, we welcome singers of all levels in group sessions or one-to-one classes. You can learn to sing your way in your own time. Get in touch and book today!
Tags: singing technique
, vocal technique
, vocal tips