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How open/wide does my mouth need to be while singing?

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Benns
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Hi guys,

my singing teacher once told me that when i sing, my mouth is quite wide open and i remember someone else commenting on that as well. I have been watching some perfomances of singers (like pop, r&b and the like) and they don't sing as wide open as i do. Instead they sing with their mouths as wide open as if they were talking. Has anyone got any tips how i can solve this problem?

Thanks!

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If you need to get yourself used to a certain mouth width while singing, you can use your fingers to help you maintain awareness of your mouth opening while using a mirror. Do exercises and sing some songs that way to get yourself acquainted with the sensation, and eventually you will need less cues to access the configuration.

And that's all it is. Mouth opening is just like another part of the singing equation that can be tweaked to achieve certain goals. e.g. classical is more vertical opening, less horizontal, soul may be more horizontal, etc.

Having the right configuration will help you achieve the sound you want, and being able to stay in the configuration will make you consistent. I personally think it's fun to learn to do as many configurations as you can just so you can have a huge toolbox. And it's comforting to get to know your voice as a many colored gradient as well.

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If you need to get yourself used to a certain mouth width while singing, you can use your fingers to help you maintain awareness of your mouth opening while using a mirror. Do exercises and sing some songs that way to get yourself acquainted with the sensation, and eventually you will need less cues to access the configuration.

And that's all it is. Mouth opening is just like another part of the singing equation that can be tweaked to achieve certain goals. e.g. classical is more vertical opening, less horizontal, soul may be more horizontal, etc.

Having the right configuration will help you achieve the sound you want, and being able to stay in the configuration will make you consistent. I personally think it's fun to learn to do as many configurations as you can just so you can have a huge toolbox. And it's comforting to get to know your voice as a many colored gradient as well.

How wide does it need to be? The size of my second finger?

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i wouldn't be too concerned with mouth height yet. learn to open and keep open the back of the throat first.

this can be achieved by starting to sing as if you were beginning to yawn, or as if you were surprised by someone.

(by writing a reply like this i remind myself to do it too...lol.)

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I believe you should be able to find the optimal width for yourself via experimentation. There is no way we can speculate without hearing and seeing you! If you can record, do it frequently... learn to gain control of your configurations/placements and check and tune via recording :)

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Also, has anyone got any tips as to how i can train my tongue to remain behind my teeth while singing? My singing teacher recommend that i keep my tongue behind my teeth but however, when i try to sing i find it hard to keep my tongue behind my front teeth for too long...It just ends up flipping right back up lol

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Now that it is brought to your attention, it should get easier to notice when you are and are not keeping your tongue behind the front teeth. Whenever you notice that it is not there, put it back.

I think the idea is to have a relaxed tongue that is easily movable but out of the way of the sound. If the tip of the tongue is UP it can block the sound and make it muffled/garbled.

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Benns, try literally pressing the tip of your tongue against the back of the bottom teeth...apply enough pressure that you really feel it, remember the feeling of that sensation of pressing against the teeth and maintain it. If the tongue wants to pull away, slow down the exercise, pay attention to maintaining that pressure and that might help fix it. Practice in front of a mirror with front vowels. Once you get good at it and can sing scales like that without the tongue pulling back, make it harder and improve the new habit by moving on to progressively more back vowels. You will probably find "oo", the most back and closed vowel, is the hardest one to not pull the tongue back on.

It's important to note that this tongue flipping habit is a result of other tensions, it's more of a symptom than the cause of the problem. So understand you'll also have to make changes in the jaw, throat, etc. in order to kick the habit and find a new way to sing without it. It will feel awkward to force that pressed tongue position at first, it will totally screw you up, but if you keep at it, it will force you to figure out a different way to work the throat and jaw so that you can sing without the tongue curling back.

Once you've got this tongue pressing habit going really strong, which may take a month or so, stop thinking about it and just sing. Don't try to stop the habit, just take out the mental intention and let the muscle memory do the work. That will keep it from becoming too extreme and help reduce the pressure.

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Also, you can sing great with all kinds of different mouth openings. The trick is learning what to use and when. The best ways to learn that are by consulting a private teacher regularly to help you monitor it while you train, and studying the mouth positions of your favorite singers and the different tones, pitches, vowels, and intensities they are associated with.

I've learned so much about mouth positions for singing just from taking private lessons. Every vocal teacher worth their salt will consistently make sure you are using the right mouth opening for the right application, and correct you if you are making mistakes, and generally give you plenty of information/feedback/demonstrations on it, to help you monitor your progress when you practice on your own.

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although the tongue should be situated behind the lower front teeth (when it not busy forming consonants) pressing it to keep it there is not the way to go i.m.o........this will only instill more compensatory tension....

it's more than just getting the tongue out of the way when you sing.....

it's learning to release tension and learning to relax both....the tongue and more importantly, the jaw.

this should be a part of your daily warmup. research and you find some great exercises for this.

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i don't mean pressing it with all your might. Just enough so that you can feel the contact between the tongue and the teeth.

As a beginner I never realized singers used that as a home base for positioning the tip of the tongue, so it took me a while to get, but then I started to really enjoy it once I realized the stabilizing effect it has and the tonal consistency it brings.

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It all depends. If the tongue is behaving weird through the whole scale, either its a problem of persistent muscle tension/weakness, that tongue exercises could help solving, or inexistant support coordination, forcing the tongue to help you controlling the pressure.

If its on a specific spot, such as the passage, it can be a number of things, ranging from nasal/oral ballance to simple adjustments on the gesture itself (the intent), placement retracting, loss of focus, etc...

To release tensions bring mobility, make it move. Even if it makes you unstable for a while, its best than forcing it to lock on another posture. The problem is not the posture itself, but this unecessary hold that is difficult to modify.

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To release tensions bring mobility, make it move. Even if it makes you unstable for a while, its best than forcing it to lock on another posture. The problem is not the posture itself, but this unecessary hold that is difficult to modify.

Yes this is good, didn't even think about that. It's a well known fact that movement helps defeat tension. So maybe try tongue trill exercises to help reduce the tongue tension, for instance.

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Also, has anyone got any tips as to how i can train my tongue to remain behind my teeth while singing? My singing teacher recommend that i keep my tongue behind my teeth but however, when i try to sing i find it hard to keep my tongue behind my front teeth for too long...It just ends up flipping right back up lol

Why don't you ask your teacher about that? He/she should be able to give you appropriate exercises for your problems and explain if you need to understand something better. Now if he/she won't do that or can't do that maybe it's time you found an other teacher?

Nick

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hey guys,

Thanks for the replies! Sorry fro the late reply. I think it was more of a getting used to singing with my tongue pressed to my teeth. I am now a bit used to the sensation. I must say, there is a quite difference in terms of sound/tone when the tongue is behind the teeth compared to singing with your tongue flapping all over the place.

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hey guys,

Thanks for the replies! Sorry fro the late reply. I think it was more of a getting used to singing with my tongue pressed to my teeth. I am now a bit used to the sensation. I must say, there is a quite difference in terms of sound/tone when the tongue is behind the teeth compared to singing with your tongue flapping all over the place.

And that makes better sense. For me, it was never a problem of too much tongue movement but each person is different and faces different challenges at different times. Now, the back of your tongue may rise and lower depending on vowel and vowels for singing should be shaped at that back of the mouth, not the lips. But that is still more subtle than if you tongue was moving all around the place, as it may often do in speach and with accent. Leading one to sometimes think that we cannot sing the way that we speak, even if we are using the same "structures."

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No, what you need to do is stand in front of the mirror and measure exactly an aperture of 15 mm and not open any wider than that.

ronws: 15mm (just a little less than 5/8 of an inch) may not be enough jaw drop for particular vowels in particular ranges for some voices. The vocal tract end effect is particularly sensitive to the amount of jaw drop, and for some voices more (or less) jaw drop may be needed for the musical context.

I hope this is helpful.

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anyone?

Benns,

At TVS and with my vocal training program, "The Four Pillars of Singing", we cover two different embouchure positions for singing, their strengths and when to use them (embouchure = mouth position)... we also cover two tongue positions for singing. It is covered in detail in the book and further demonstrated in video by myself. I advise that you get real content and train these concepts. Seeking 'tips' from assorted individuals on this forum is interesting, but isn't really going to get you where you need to be. Tips and advise isn't going to change anything, you need to train.

Click Here www.TheVocalistStudioStore.com.

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hey guys,

Thanks for the replies! Sorry fro the late reply. I think it was more of a getting used to singing with my tongue pressed to my teeth. I am now a bit used to the sensation. I must say, there is a quite difference in terms of sound/tone when the tongue is behind the teeth compared to singing with your tongue flapping all over the place.

Yes, good idea Owen, where you did hear about that?

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Yes, in other words, your tuning a formant that is unique to your vocal tract, so the exact space is going to be individualized... So stop chasing your tail, chasing the physiology... at some point you have to configure for a tuned formant that is unique to your vocal tract. Part of the big problem here and so often on these posts is people chasing the physiology around... lead with the acoustics and the physiology will align where it needs to be.

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I was afraid my humor might be a little too obscure and dead-pan. No, seriously, don't bother to measure 15 mm. That was a number I pulled out of thin air, to be silly. Point being, don't worry about an exact aperture but, instead, experiment until your alignment reaches a position of optimum performance.

It looks like Robert Lunte got the gist of my previous reply. And he states it more eloquently than I did. So, again, seriously, listen to Robert.

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