Judy Rodman - All Things Vocal Blog

Training & insights for stage and studio singers, speakers, vocal coaches and producers from professional vocal coach and author of "Power, Path & Performance" vocal training method.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Vocal techniques for lifting the soft palate and opening the throat

I recently received this question: "...What can I do to lift my soft palate, as well as expand my throat so it can remain effortless throughout my singing?" Here are some suggestions:
  • First of all, you can use the 'inner smile', a time-tested technique which feels like the beginning of the yawn. This is not to be confused with the tight, horizontal external smile. Think Mona Lisa.
  • Imagine a ping pong ball on the back of your tongue. This will cause the soft palate to lift, as well as loosen the jaw and relax the base of the tongue.
  • Get your eyes and nose into the act: Remember that the back of the nasal membrane goes on back behind the eyes and continues above the soft palate. Soft palate and nasal membrane (nasal pharynx) should lift simultaneously towards the top back of your head in order to open the channels of the throat. Flare your nose at the same time you raise the back edges of your eyebrows and notice what it does for this lift.
  • Get your spine into the act: Move your head flexibly back a bit, causing the top vertebrae (C-1) to open the throat channel from behind.
  • Do what I call the 6-way inside stretch (eyes, nose, jaw, both ears & scalp) as you sing. The center of the stretch should seem to be in the back of your head.
  • Do some 'wall work' : sing with your heel and head against the wall (chin flexibly level), which will help keep your head back and your breath supported and controlled.
  • Back off the pressure! Remember that vocal volume comes from resonation, not excessive air pressure. Back off and your throat will be able to open.

Try these things and let me know how they work for you. As always, your questions are invaluable, and the answers will benefit others as well... just click 'comments' below and join the conversation!

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