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The tongue can get us in trouble, in more ways than one. Its base or root muscle is attached to the top of the larynx and if that muscle gets tight, it can cause vocal strain, limited range, obstruction of the throat channel (limiting resonance) and can cause over- or under- articulation (too much or too little clarity of pronunciation).
My favorite tongue fix:
However, sometimes an ingrained habit will necessitate other approaches. So here are...
More tongue tips:1. Do stretches for the neck and shoulders.
- It's amazing how gentle neck circles, head-to-the-side stretches and shoulder rolls can free up the jaw, which then frees up the tongue.
- Never over-stretch; if in doubt, consult a doctor, chiropractor or physical therapist for stretches best for you.
- Get a shoulder/neck/head massage. This is especially beneficial before stage or studio performance.
3. Use the tip and front sides of the tongue to articulate lyrics, not the base.
- When you articulate from the back or base of the tongue, that muscle contracts and bunches up. Because it's attached, it pulls the larynx up, restricting its movement and narrowing the voice channel in the back of the mouth.
- To articulate words or lyrics, the tip of the tongue should stay at or near the front teeth. Yes, certain vowels and pitches need different tongue involvement but the point is to operate the tongue in the front and keep the back of the tongue relaxed, not bunching or bulking up.
6. Try to create consonants in the front of your mouth, or your incisors, not your molars.
7.Some people worry their tongue is too large. I have never run into that being a problem, as long as the person activates the tongue more frontally and keeps the jaw flexibly open.
- "eleven benevolent elephants",
- "red leather, yellow leather",
- "good blood, bad blood",
- "tim the thin tinsmith",
- Mallory's hourly salary",
- "the sixth sheik's sixth sheep's sick"
- "rebel rubber welders"
- Try putting two fingers firmly up under your chin, pressing into the tongue base there. Purposefully intend/suggest that this area relax as you sing or talk. Expect the tongue muscle to obey and you'll be amazed at how it does!
- Try putting your knuckle between your molars and saying or singing something. The lowered jaw helps your tongue base relax. Your voice will sound richer and freer. Then take your knuckle out and try vocalizing like it's still there.
- Check out this vocal lesson I videotaped with a student on relaxing jaw tension, which relaxes tongue tension: