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, November 20, 2007

How to articulate without tensing up

Articulation. Diction. These words don't sound very emotional, do they? Yet if you don't define the words you speak or sing, nobody will know the emotion you want to cause them to feel. In this culture of short attention spans, rather than try to figure out what you're almost saying, your audience may direct attention elsewhere. So, ya gotta do it. Articulate, that is.

BUT... and it's a big but here... you need to define your words a certain way so as not to tense up at the jaw and facial muscles, which causes a lot of vocal technique to go dreadfully wrong.

The answer is to define your words with the FRONT part of your articulators... tip of the tongue, not the base; flexible lips, not overtightened; hard palate right behind your front teeth, not back in your mouth.

A couple of exercises:

  • Try forming the word "Ya". Do it slowly. Are you creating the "y" in the back of your mouth, tensing your jaw? If so, you'll notice numb eyes and a tenseness in the base of your tongue. Instead, try creating the "y" with a more frontal part of the tongue up nearer your incisor teeth - not back at the molars. If you're doing this correctly, you'll notice it tends to cause your nose to flare and your eyes to open expressively.
  • Try putting your little finger in your mouth at your molars, and then try to articulate words. It will teach you not to form them at the back, leaving that space open for resonation. Or a turkey bone. Just don't swallow the thing. :)

How'd you do with this? Let me know by clicking the "comment" link below this post.

Happy Thanksgiving, by the way! Counting you among my blessings...

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