Many years ago, I had the honor of singing for a friend’s funeral who lost a rough battle to cancer. He served in the army and fought in World War II. With Allied Forces in Bastogne, Belgium, Mr. Nelligan fought in the military exchange that would famously become known as “The Battle of the Bulge.” How many of us know similar stories in our personal lives? The military honor guard at his funeral gave very fitting and moving tribute as Taps was played by trumpeter and the American flag was folded reverently. I couldn’t help but cry for the awesome integrity, honor and respect our wonderful military showed in performing this most solemn duty. So many put themselves in harm’s way voluntarily. I’d love to wish all of you and your families a most wonderful and enjoyable memorial day. Of course, we remember always the sacrifice of those who have fallen, but we also remember those who have fought and the sacrifice of their families who have suffered through loss and hardship. I have the blessing of knowing many current and former military service members in my life and they are among the finest people one can ever meet. To all of you service members, on behalf of a grateful nation, thank-you!
Often times, people enjoy helpful hints that gives fast, if not immediate, results. Unfortunately music is not a genre which lends itself easily to this paradigm. However, there are a few simple tips for quick and immediate improvements for those searching. Today I will address one of the big biggest problems singers have, especially English speaking singers, specifically, tension in the jaw and the tongue.
Because of this it is a very good and necessary practice to separate the muscles we need to use from the muscles we actually use when singing. Any of my students know that this is one of the first issues I address with them. They are quite familiar with this simple exercise offered for your consideration: speak the glide sound, ya (in International Phonetic Alphabet, IPA the sound is transcribed as [ja]) and repeat it several times while looking in a mirror.
For most the jaw line will be moving every time you say it “ya-ya-ya-ya-ya-ya-ya-ya-ya!” Because of the way this particular glide is made only one articulator (the jaw—lips—teeth-tongue—and soft palate) is supposed to move; the tongue.
Say it now, “ya-ya-ya-ya-ya,” and you will feel the back of your tongue rising up for the “E” [i] vowel and lower again for the “ah” [ɑ] vowel. Do you feel the tongue move? Is your jaw moving with it? It shouldn’t be. Next place a finger lightly on your chin and observe yourself speaking the exercise “ya-ya-ya-ya-ya,” in the mirror. Make a conscious effort to relax your jaw and be sure not to move it. This exercise may be done either with, or without phonation—using the vocal folds, or making sounds with them.
If you’re like me and many other singers today, doing this exercise will be somewhat difficult at first. Rest assured, however, that after doing this for only a little bit of time you will find yourself using your jaw muscle less and less. The resulting effect of this will inspire less constriction for the vocal mechanism and greater ease in vocal production.
Jaw and tongue tension are serious and very common issues amongst singers today. And since the results of over using muscles can and will be a tremendous vocal impediment, this is one of the simplest exercises to help free up your voice and have you on the path to singing freely, openly and beautifully. Thanks for reading today! Sing well. D.F.
I will sincerely be attempting to keep up a more regular schedule to supply you with more informative articles on my blog page. My intention is to give you tips on singing and may include comments on articles found around the web. Stay Tuned!!! D.F.
Click Here for an article I had the pleasure of contributing to on another website. Enjoy! Stay tuned! D.F.