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Your Singing Tongue: a help or a hindrance?

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Joy-Sikorski
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Over the years that I've been helping people with their voices (all types, styles, ages, ranges, etc.) I have found that there is one muscle that either hinders your voice in a big way or helps it: THE SINGING TONGUE!

I don't know if there is a thread for this subject so I'm starting one.

I teach some very basic principles on this subject and wonder what everyone thinks about what happens if your tongue is not forward in your mouth when you sing.

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joy, i purchased your download tutorial on the tongue, and the exercises helped me relax it and keep it controlled.

Totally happy that it helped you! Amazing how some very simple tongue techniques can make the difference, isn't it?

And thanks for the shout-out about it!

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For the tone i want to achieve i always try to keep it as loose as possible. Richie kotzen is doing that all the time ;-)

Yeah, loose as possible, that's the way.

I try to think of a dog who has been running like a maniac for a couple of miles, and then starts panting when he stops. His tongue is SO loose that it hangs out of the side of his mouth.

He doesn't think about it....he just runs and then pants.

Singing is sometimes like that!

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I cant keep my tongue down flat...its so damn hard..

Sorry you are having trouble with it. Tongues tend to be untamed beasts!

I remember the trouble I used to have with mine. I didn't understand much back when I first started taking lessons, but my teacher was always trying to get me to relax my jaw. Only problem was he didn't tell me how a tight tongue and a tight jaw are connected to one another. Nor did he give me any concrete tongue exercises.

I had to create my own.

That's why I created the download VIDEOHERE mentioned above. I figured that it should be easier for people to learn how to control their tongues than it was for me!

Meanwhile, if you read what I wrote about a dog running and then panting, try doing a dog pant breathing exercise and then letting your tongue hang loose, like an exhausted dog.

Try not to make it flat. Simply learn to relax it at your command first. The flat thing will come later.

And let me know how it feels and if you can sense any tongue relaxation at all.

Lots of times this stuff has to do with a singing mindset. I'm working on some lessons about that too.

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joy, i purchased your download tutorial on the tongue, and the exercises helped me relax it and keep it controlled.

Is this it? http://www.singingmastermind.com/singing-tongue-2/your-tremendous-singing-tongue/

I know you mentioned this a while ago and have been considering getting it, but I feel a little lost on the site and want to make sure I get the right product.

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hey joshual, how's it going with the richie kotzen...any tips on how you get his sound?

it's going good, as i don't practice much (too much work).

For the tips i can say twang a lot and always try to keep a light tone, that is really a problem for me, and you want some raspy tone, i just push a little more and bring the soft palate down. that's all i have for the moment lol. What amaze me with Kotzen is that sensation of him keeping his throat so open and relax. And also he have such a perfect connection with support and power. It's just so hard. In a sentence he can comes from raspy and powerfull tone to a such light controlled tone. it seems so easy for him...

Yeah, loose as possible, that's the way.

I try to think of a dog who has been running like a maniac for a couple of miles, and then starts panting when he stops. His tongue is SO loose that it hangs out of the side of his mouth.

He doesn't think about it....he just runs and then pants.

Singing is sometimes like that!

Yep but the problem is that i have a natural wiiiide tongue lol. And it's hard for medialisation i often lisp...

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Yep but the problem is that i have a natural wiiiide tongue lol. And it's hard for medialisation i often lisp...

I'm thinking that a naturally wide tongue should make no difference in developing the power of your tongue muscle.

So now I'm curious about what kind of specific tongue exercises do you do? Meaning, exercises that are meant to strengthen the control over your tongue in general, not necessarily for any particular effect, sound or style.

What I've found from teaching so many people about the power of their voices is that they often try to get a certain style or sound out of their voice without really knowing how to use the power of their tongue and other muscles important to singing.

That's why I'm curious about what specific tongue exercises you use.

Thanks,

Joy

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Hi Joy,

When you speak of keeping the tongue forward, I'm getting the impression you're talking about keeping the tip forward based on your article "Singing Tongue Vowels". Is this the same thing you're talking about here in this thread? When I speak of keeping the tongue forward, I'm referring to keeping the back portion of the tongue away from the back wall of the throat. I just wanted to make that clarification about what I wrote.

~~Dante~~

Hi. Well, yes and no. The "Singing Tongue Vowels" article deals specifically with the shapes of a few vowels.

In the case of exercising the tongue to be able to keep the tongue forward from the back of the throat like you are talking about, I have developed a series of specific exercises to facilitate that important concept.

I find that focusing on the tip of the tongue makes it easier to keep it forward, away from the back of the throat.

I hope that answers your question.

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singingmastermind - since you are talking about tongues on this thread I've got a question: On a different thread it has been mentioned that Adam Lambert will stick the tip of his tongue out when singing very high (in the E5 to A5) range, and we were wondering why. My theory was that he is going for a high larynx position and he is simply trying to create more space in the back of his throat by moving the tongue forward. As the larynx comes up, there is less space for resonance. Care to comment?

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In order to do distortion with the false folds, for example, usually the back of the tongue has to move backwards and up, almost touching the molars. So it's not always that the tongue has to be forwards and flat (or neutral). In fact, many heavy metal singers would have that distortion on constantly.

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Hi Singingmastermind,

It's great to have you around!

A dumb question))

Since the whole point of keeping one's tongue forward is to open up the back of the throat, would opening the jaw wider and wider be beneficial for that as well?

The assumption is that since I need to keep my tongue next to the bottom teach (or lip), the wider I open my jaw, the further away from the back of the throat the tongue gets.

So, is there a jaw \ toungue relationship?

Cheers,

Vlad

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Keeping the tip of my tongue forward, the rest of it relaxed and my jaw "hanging" open, has helped me get rid of excessive strain.

I would like to know the answers especially to Guitartrek's and Jonpall's questions.

PS. Thanks Videohere for recommending this video and thank you singingmastermind for releasing it - I'm looking forward to the next ones.

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I would like to know the answers especially to Guitartrek's and Jonpall's questions.

Most vocal teachers would answer my question with "no you don't wanna do that screaming shit, grasshopper. You'll wreck your voice". But from what I've learned, a lot of that raspy stuff is done with techniques that may contradict traditional theories on singing.

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Keeping the tip of my tongue forward, the rest of it relaxed and my jaw "hanging" open, has helped me get rid of excessive strain.

I would like to know the answers especially to Guitartrek's and Jonpall's questions.

PS. Thanks Videohere for recommending this video and thank you singingmastermind for releasing it - I'm looking forward to the next ones.

my pleasure, joy is one busy lady...i shot her an email to get her back here....lol!!!

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VIDEOHERE: ".... joy is one busy lady...i shot her an email to get her back here....lol!!!"

I didn't get that email yet, but I checked in here late late late tonight after doing a bunch of tech stuff on my SingBabySing site and trying to solve some tech issues on the SingingMastermind site too.

Hi Everyone!

Wow! I am really excited by all your comments because I honestly believe that the tongue muscle, coupled with the breathing muscles are the most important ones that need super strength training!

So I apologize for not getting back sooner. I have been doing some serious labor on my SingBabySing site http://singbabysing.com where I am creating products to reach people as early as I can so that the voice training starts from day 1 (and before). Check it out for fun!

Now for a response to your great questions and comments:

guitartrek: About Adam Lambert on those high notes. I've never seen him actually stick out his tongue when singing (I mean beyond his lips) but the higher the larynx position, the more tension is created on the lower part of the tongue muscle. He knows that to get up there he has to keep that throat open as much as possible while he is still going for his particular and unique sound. And yes, bringing the tongue forward will keep that throat open. They higher you sing, the more tension will increase in the muscles (tongue, cords, diaphragm, abs, etc.). That's why it's so crucial to strengthen the tongue muscle (or the diaphragm, for that matter). Think about your biceps. If you want to do heavy lifting, you don't do it all at once, right? You have to build up the strength of the muscle. All the muscles used in singing - and there are a ton of them - need to be strengthened to get the power you want out of your voice, no matter what style you sing or want to sing. I hope this answer helps.

jonpall: "So it's not always that the tongue has to be forwards and flat (or neutral)." Fair enough. But think of it this way: if a singer has exercised the tongue in specific ways to have more control over the muscle itself, so that he or she can choose to manipulate it for specific stylistic sounds, then there will be less chance of vocal damage, which is what any heavy metal singer has to be really careful about in order to keep singing for years to come. About the traditional theories on sing technique. I am convinced that everyone has to find their own comfort zone when they sing. If it is heavy metal screaming, then whatever the person does, they have find ways, traditional and non-traditional in order to protect their voices. So, again, muscle power!

Vlad: "Since the whole point of keeping one's tongue forward is to open up the back of the throat, would opening the jaw wider and wider be beneficial for that as well?" Not at all a dumb questions! In fact, it is a SUPER important question! I'm so glad you asked it. The quick answer is NO! In fact, doing that will cause other problems with other muscles that then set in motion more tension elsewhere that you have to overcome by adjusting something else. Whew, it gets complicated. One thing that I learned when I first began taking voice lessons (long ago) was that this idea of opening your mouth as wide as you can is not at all necessary for producing a great sound. In fact, I always tell people that if you can't sing with your mouth mostly closed, then you haven't found your resonance yet. You're still trying to "make" the resonance happen by slamming down the jaw and not knowing how to get the most out of the tongue muscle so that it doesn't get in the way of the sound. I think people get this idea from choir teachers who tell the singers -- usually in a very exaggerated manner -- "OPEN YOUR MOUTH, GET YOUR JAW DOWN, OPEN YOUR THROAT!" No offense if anyone here works with choirs but this drives me crazy because they usually do not clarify what they mean or how to get the sound they want. So, Vlad, try singing on the open vowel sound, "Aw" in front of a mirror. Don't use words or even much of a melody at first. See if you can get a clear resonant tone with your mouth open as little as possible. I guarantee you it will get you to thinking in a different way about where the sound comes from! Hope that helps.

akarawd: "thank you singingmastermind for releasing it - I'm looking forward to the next ones." You are most welcome and I'm looking forward to releasing more! Also, try what I suggested to Vlad as an experiment.

CunoDante: "I notice that lots of singers, myself included, stick the tongues out of the mouth a tiny bit for the very highest range." I'd like to get everyone who is posting on this thread into a room and make of video of what everyone looks like sticking out their tongues to get the high notes. :P It would take me to another vocal exercise that I created that involves nothing but sheer authentic laughter.

Whew! I think I answered everyone! Let me know if I missed something.

I like you all, by the way, and want to especially thank VIDEOHERE for talking me into getting involved with this forum.

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In fact, I always tell people that if you can't sing with your mouth mostly closed, then you haven't found your resonance yet.

I've been watching Tim Ripper Owens perform some priest songs and although his mouth is mostly closed, he gets this huge, unhindered, resonant sound across

so I tend to believe this is true.

If it is heavy metal screaming, then whatever the person does

If I may ask

a) What in your opinion should be the position and shape of the tongue as far as this type of singing (HM screaming) is concerned ?

B) Do you agree with the argument that the creation of distortion benefits from/requires the back of the tongue to rise ?

c) Could the tip still touch the front teeth in this case ?

I find this thread extremely intriguing.

Kind Regards,

Thanos

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What a great reply, Joy! It would be great if we could all get together in a room and learn from each other. Things would be so much clearer than the words on a page. I do have a question for you though.

Would you be able to give an example or two of someone opening the mouth too much? I'm curious as to what exactly you're referring to. I have a few ideas, but I'm not sure which you are talking about.

~~Dante~~

very interesting discussion. i believe there are times, at least for me personally, where an opening of the mouth (i like to say "tall" instead of "wide") in conjunction with an yawn or apple biting configuration very helpful. opening tall without the yawn configuration, yes, i think can close you up in the back of the mouth.

what do you folks think?

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