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TONGUE TIED

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D.Starr
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My singing lessons are going great 5th lesson in and my resonance, placement, support, my overall singing is feeling a lot better. I feel my new teacher is doing exactly what I want him to do.

I think we found my main root of my "singing problem". It's not my support, resonance, placement, pitch, tone.

Simply...

My tongue.

It's pulling back ever so slightly, not majorly that it completely cuts off my air flow but it's pulling back and causing the other muscles in my neck to activate and constrict. It happens from C4-G4, with remnants after.

I need to get used to the feeling of "letting go" and letting the note float but also to stop my tongue from pulling.

Just a little other thing is my jaw, it juts forward and always has but I have a solution for that my simply placing the backs of my hands against my cheeks and holding them there. Helps me feel the note float as well.

I just wondered if anyone had a similar experience of the tongue causing an issue, like I said it's not a major jump back but it does tighten up and obviously in turn tightens everything else up.

I'm fully aware of not pulling on my tongue, we all know of the previous person who did and caused major issues.

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Rach many programs use that, keeping the tongue slightly above slightly above the lower teeth or just leaning on the lower teeth. I cant get My scources here, but ive been taught this in person by several teachers, also alot of tongue release exercises work in similar fashion.

MY theory is that keeping the tip on the tongue there keeps the tongue out of the throat(not pressing down on the larynx)

However i belive this is gettng rid of tension, the tongue needs to or alot of diffrent positions depending on the sounds you Wanna make

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I cannot quote any books or give examples of the sources but almost everything that I have read will tell you to place the tip of your tongue against the bottom front teeth. Just placing it there and feeling tip of your tongue against the teeth will help to keep the tongue from pulling back in your mouth. This would be the "home position" for the tongue. When the tip of the tongue is not used for articulation it should be in this position.

Some also suggest that the sides of the tongue should be laying on the bottom molars.

I am not a teacher but I do read every now and then.

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Geran,

It's important to notice that I did not say that you should tighten the tongue and jaw when anchoring. Besides from that, anchoring helps stabilize the "frame" of the voice mechanism when doing extreme phonations. It helps the intrinsic muscles. Here's an analogy/test; grab a pen and write your name without resting your lower arm on the surface. Now, rest your arm while writing. Feel the difference? You use the larger muscles to aid the fine controll of the smaller muscles.

Stabilize would be the important word. Balancing between muscles above and below the larynx keeping the larynx stable.

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Also a good old tip is to press under your chin with the thumb and make sure it doesn't tighten up. This is good for monitoring tongue and jaw tension. Actually, often when doing this you'll notice that you'll engage a more efficient support (core muscles etc.) because you don't "support" with the tongue and jaw. Though at the extreme ranges it most likely will tighten up a bit because in those ranges some of the extrinsic muscles are participating in phonation.

What would you consider being extreme here? I do strain before that threshold but it still is interesting to hear! (low tenor).

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When you sing loud and high. It's individual how much you can relax. But what is important is to notice that when you relax under the chin you have to activate more energy in the core muscles to sustain the same note.

Rachsing: I experienced this the other way around: By activating more energy in the core muscles, I was free to let the strain under my jaw, and tongue, go.

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Just to state my opinion on this: The main technical point of tongue position imo is really the lowering of the larynx, the secondary one is the shaping of the formant.

The lowering of the larynx is basically done by letting your jaw drop down loosely. However, if you don't keep your tongue in mind the tongue often moves down with the jaw and covers your larynx more and more. So it basically this: When your larynx moves down, the middle of your tongue has to move up and forward.

Pressing the tip of the tongue gently against the lower front teeth makes sure the middle of the tongue goes forward if the jaw moves down, which frees up the resonant space in your pharynx.

Resting the tip of the tongue on your lower front teeth moves the middle of the tongue a little more forward and a little less upward. The formant created by this is a little darker and this position enforces you to stabilize the singing process more with your body. But it also serves the same purpose of moving the middle of the tongue away from the larynx.

There are other recipes for tongue control as well. In classical singing there is the almighty NG-position. If you hold an "NG" as in "sing", the middle of your tongue moves upwards to the area near the soft palate while the tip of the tongue usually gently touches your teeth. Actually the tongue position created by this is almost the same as the "anchored to lower front teeth"-position, but without the anchoring. This tongue position also requires you to support more with your body to stabilize your singing, so its basically a combination of the two positions Rob uses.

However, in short words: Tongue control is always about moving the middle of your tongue away from the larynx. Depending on how you do this there may or may not be an anchoring effect and the formant might change.

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Yes, keeping the middle of the tongue at the upper molars is also very similar to what the NG-Position does.

Of course it also depends largely on the sound you want. If you do that appaggio-thing correctly it is even possible to let the tongue move down with the larynx, but the sound you get will be very dull and dark, a sound usually no one wants.

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Is compressing the back of the tongue a bad or dangerous habit? I find that it makes just about everything sound better as long as I'm doing it fairly gently.

It is not a bad habit if you are supporting correctly and if you like the sound it is creating. It is a really bad habit if you press down the larynx with the root of your tongue.

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