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how wide and down to open mouth

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bigmike092
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ive seen a few times vocal coaches demonstrating how wide to open the mouth and have the whole top of the teeth showing, and when i try to copy it seems to be too much. whereas if i just think slightly lift the cheeks, jaw back and down but not unhinged, and sing i think i get better projection but my lips aren't far apart which makes me think its not right.

maybe i was just copying wrong, or is it individual, or does it have to do with how high/loud your singing?

for example, look at this video of the guy from seether. pretty much throughout the whole performance his lips aren't far apart, but i suppose his jaw is still open pretty wide? but looking at him it seems a coach would be like open your mouth more.

at 2:25 a good view is shown

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thanks for the reply phil

When singing you let it do what it wants

i think that may be where my problem lies, while singing im thinking too much lift the cheeks and keep the mouth open fairly wide and probably keeping too much in a position as opposed to letting it move more naturally

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What Phil said is dead on.

To elaborate on the mouth position when you sing, well first of all if you train enough with it totally wide (and also do some closed vowel practice to work on getting constriction out of that cause it's usually the toughest mouth position to sing high with for anyone) that will all naturally translate over to singing. If you are finding you currently sing with the mouth too wide you might want to work more on your ee and oo vowels and focus on first making sure you can get through scales properly with extreme modifications (ee all the way to eh by dropping the jaw, oo all the way to oh again just by dropping the jaw only). Only because if you try the more subtle ones right away you'll probably choke like hell and get nowhere. But once you get those open ones down you try to gradually diminish those modifications (less jaw drop) until you are only modifying ee to a bit of an ih, and oo to a bit of an ouh (as in book) and once you get those subtle modifications down you should have no problems with your mouth position when you sing because you've training the most open and most closed positions and the middle stuff is always easier than those extremes.

But this whole process of getting rid of the need to extremely modify ee and oo takes a couple months of serious training at least, and probably triple that time if you're self taught. Especially because these vowel mods are never exact IPA vowels they're very weird vowel shades that you can really only learn by ear and by feel, we don't have a way of communicating them in words. Yes, I try and so do all us forum geeks, but more often than not, even with the great coaches, whatever approximate vowel we type + how you individually interpret it, leads to a result that is likely waaaay off the real vowel shade you want.

One more thing, the one thing that should nearly always stay when you sing that can be counterintuitive is the lifted upper lip. If you ever take a lesson with any great vocal coach they will really drill this into you...they will catch you lowering it the slightest bit and have you fix it immediately - because really, lowering that lip can cause a whole lot of problems - I've been there time and time again. I don't know the science behind it, but I just know, based on my experience, one of the most important things you can do if you are self-teaching yourself proper singing embouchure (mouth/tongue/jaw position) is do it in front of the mirror and make sure you show your upper teeth for all unrounded vowels (in other words pretty much everything except oo and sometimes oh). Because that's usually what a lot of the failing self-taught singers (myself back in the day) forget or misunderstand the importance of. Any self-taught singer that is thriving, chances are they are lifting their upper lip and showing the front teeth properly and consistently and that's a big reason they're doing decent on their own. Start paying attention to how many singers do it especially on high powerful stuff and you'll be blown away, shocked, flabbergasted how you missed out on how common it is. Honestly, it's that important. Sounds ridiculous that such a small positioning is so important, I know, it still does to me, but I just know it's a little singer's mouth position trick that works awesome and is in some ways, vital to any chance at proper technique, growing the voice, finding access to power and high notes, access to bright resonance, etc.

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What Phil said is dead on.

To elaborate on the mouth position when you sing, well first of all if you train enough with it totally wide (and also do some closed vowel practice to work on getting constriction out of that cause it's usually the toughest mouth position to sing high with for anyone) that will all naturally translate over to singing. If you are finding you currently sing with the mouth too wide you might want to work more on your ee and oo vowels and focus on first making sure you can get through scales properly with extreme modifications (ee all the way to eh by dropping the jaw, oo all the way to oh again just by dropping the jaw only). Only because if you try the more subtle ones right away you'll probably choke like hell and get nowhere. But once you get those open ones down you try to gradually diminish those modifications (less jaw drop) until you are only modifying ee to a bit of an ih, and oo to a bit of an ouh (as in book) and once you get those subtle modifications down you should have no problems with your mouth position when you sing because you've training the most open and most closed positions and the middle stuff is always easier than those extremes.

But this whole process of getting rid of the need to extremely modify ee and oo takes a couple months of serious training at least, and probably triple that time if you're self taught. Especially because these vowel mods are never exact IPA vowels they're very weird vowel shades that you can really only learn by ear and by feel, we don't have a way of communicating them in words. Yes, I try and so do all us forum geeks, but more often than not, even with the great coaches, whatever approximate vowel we type + how you individually interpret it, leads to a result that is likely waaaay off the real vowel shade you want.

One more thing, the one thing that should nearly always stay when you sing that can be counterintuitive is the lifted upper lip. If you ever take a lesson with any great vocal coach they will really drill this into you...they will catch you lowering it the slightest bit and have you fix it immediately - because really, lowering that lip can cause a whole lot of problems - I've been there time and time again. I don't know the science behind it, but I just know, based on my experience, one of the most important things you can do if you are self-teaching yourself proper singing embouchure (mouth/tongue/jaw position) is do it in front of the mirror and make sure you show your upper teeth for all unrounded vowels (in other words pretty much everything except oo and sometimes oh). Because that's usually what a lot of the failing self-taught singers (myself back in the day) forget or misunderstand the importance of. Any self-taught singer that is thriving, chances are they are lifting their upper lip and showing the front teeth properly and consistently and that's a big reason they're doing decent on their own. Start paying attention to how many singers do it especially on high powerful stuff and you'll be blown away, shocked, flabbergasted how you missed out on how common it is. Honestly, it's that important. Sounds ridiculous that such a small positioning is so important, I know, it still does to me, but I just know it's a little singer's mouth position trick that works awesome and is in some ways, vital to any chance at proper technique, growing the voice, finding access to power and high notes, access to bright resonance, etc.

Agreed on the bold. I was playing around with some chesty tones and seeing what the sound is like exposing the teeth vs. covering the teeth. You get a bit of extra brightness/resonance when "biting" into the note.

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I'm not gonna write a bunch on this only that some of you will open more than others, do what is comfortable watch Stevie wonder sing and notice how closed and ventriloquist like his mouth is. The rules that are written in books and by "great" coaches do not apply to everyone and all styles so do what feels right. Experiment and find what works for you, as long as the basic principles are in order don't worry about your mouth. I teach a lot of different students from around the world with different accents and everyone is slightly different

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this aspect of training has to be worked out on your own. every singer is different, physiologically too.

also, if i may add something, taller mouth heights may "feel" very strange and uncomfortable till you get used to it. in speech, you're not thinking about creating space, you just speak....but when you sing, you sometimes need to create space and this configuration or set up you may need to go into, is for beginners, very unfamiliar.

you may think you're mouth is tall enough, but it really may not be. sometimes depending on what you're singing you may to sort of climb up on top of a note, like you were descending on it from a place above.

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bolton is a beast.

i ran across an old, real old recording of an old vh1 interview where he said how hard he worked on his voice to get to that level. how he wanted to go places with his voice that other singers couldn't. but i think with bolton, the back of the throat is probably wide open.

the thing with bolton (in my opinion from studying him a bit) is he really knows how to support and manage his air.

he's another one of those guys where just as you think you could do a decent cover, he serves as a reminder that your full voice c5 to e5's are not quite as good and secure as you need them to be yet.......lol!!!!

this song is on my hope-to-do-it-one-day list.....lol!!!!

i love the way he sings this tune. another one where you can get an emotional reaction from it.

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One more thing, the one thing that should nearly always stay when you sing that can be counterintuitive is the lifted upper lip. If you ever take a lesson with any great vocal coach they will really drill this into you...they will catch you lowering it the slightest bit and have you fix it immediately - because really, lowering that lip can cause a whole lot of problems - I've been there time and time again.

Yup, counterintuitive.

I watched in the mirror (I keep one on the music stand to check my trombone embouchure) and sure enough my teeth never show.

So it's important to see upper teeth?

Any suggested videos out there?

I tried singing with and without teeth. The sound is different but I couldn't tell if it was better or just different.

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The upper teeth thing is very important when using covering/mixed voice because if you dont do it, the sound quality will be round and usually what you aim for in MOST of pop singing is not that.

So you may endup struggling to open more the sound when all you need to do is the upper smile a bit more.

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The upper teeth thing is very important when using covering/mixed voice because if you dont do it, the sound quality will be round and usually what you aim for in MOST of pop singing is not that.

So you may endup struggling to open more the sound when all you need to do is the upper smile a bit more.

Exactly. No one ever explained it to me like that but it makes perfect sense.

Because even if you drop the jaw all the way and spread the lips horizontally, if the upper lip is down and covering the teeth, you are still adding a significant rounding quality to the sound that will usually come across to the listeners ear as a bit muffled or lacking something.

It's also kind of not a preferred method of rounding because its a bit incomplete and ugly sounding and can screw some things up with the placement and soft palate position and stuff. Not sure exactly what happens but it can just set a chain reaction to bad technique for sure. At least it would for me, and in the style of contemporary singing. Two great coaches have both strongly encouraged me to avoid that lowered upper lip.

If I were to round its better to have the upper lip lifted and them round the full lip shape from there. But often the rounded sound is best acheived internally with the larynx, tongue, and/or soft palate position

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owen, a more rounded tone isn't always incomplete or ugly sounding.

it's good to explore singers/sounds like these below....trying to get sounds like this can only help diversify you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20iS20fGoeg

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I knew people were doing me a disservice when they told me to stop mimicking Elvis when I first started singing.

Now I've got to go learn that lip lift all over again. :D

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@TimR: oddly enough i've never seen a video specifically addressing this upper teeth thing! some will mention it offhandedly but not emphasize its importance. maybe I should take the lead lol. But yeah i honestly had no idea about it until my first lesson with Rob Lunte

@Bob: Of course, rounded tone is fine. But attempting to do so by just letting that upper lip pull down unnaturally and nothing else, is not.

What I do is more like I always train the unrounded vowels with that lifted lip so when I train or sing unrounded vowels, I start the rounding action from that position - I keep that "lift" and round around it, instead of dropping the rounded shape downwards

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this lip thing is new to me...i know about the lifted cheeks and the half smile..

But that's exactly what it is.

The half smile as i know it is just smiling without widening the mouth - that will lift the lips automatically. And it's again pretty unnatural to lift the cheeks without the lips lifting too.

Bob I'm pretty sure you already do this you may just have a different way of thinking it in mentally such as the two things you mentioned

Other ways to think of it are opening for an apple bite, or kinda using your face to pinch your nose together (never heard that one taught but its another way I would personally describe how it feels sometimes), or showing your top teeth.

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When I tried lifting my lips, my nose bent upwards to. When I tried thinking of it more as a smile, I did a little better. The Lunte video was very helpful. Without a mirror there is no way I can improve on this though.

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I was at a military ceremony today and a very good male quartet sang the national anthem in close harmony, kind of barbershopquartetish.

Not a tooth could be seen.

Note: I am not arguing the point, just that it was interesting I've never paid attention to this point before, and the first time I did I saw all four people covering the teeth. Now I'll be watching every singer I see.

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http://www.amazon.com/New-Voice-Sing-Speak-Properly/dp/0881881414/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1404410506&sr=1-3&keywords=alan+greene

this book taught me about what the author refers to as "the basic shape" you need to learn to configure to. he is a proponent of learning this shape and exploring this shape before you even begin to train.

the only thing to keep in mind you have to do what you need to do based on your particular anatomical structure. it may not always look like it might feel.

and it all depends on what you are singing.....we cannot forget it all depends....

if i can bring lou in here for a minute.....listening to and watch what is going on at 7:56 when he sings "oha oh oo."

on the "oo" (sound) he is intentionally configuring or setting himself up to send a supported air stream into a very specific spot. that configuration is one he had to have discovered (or had help with discovering) and i'm gonna say it's a spot that feels like it is directly behind the nose.

not all singers would have went that way in terms of generating that tone....but you can hear the ring and the pitch is just right there....i have watched this particular video so many times....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkmxoNK4ywE

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some people like trumpets some tuba's some saxophones. You cant really shape what you got. You like lou's tone, he gets it because of the shape of his resonators. All of the assumptions you make for the oo vowel as opposed to any other vowel are just that assumptions. He does these things to make the note at 7:56 jaw tightening etc..

When you gotta hit it you gotta hit it. He is just not allowing the notes to shift he is holding them in the place for a certain sound. Thats all fine, there are other spots where he allows the notes to shift and he is able to relax.

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I was at a military ceremony today and a very good male quartet sang the national anthem in close harmony, kind of barbershopquartetish.

Not a tooth could be seen.

Note: I am not arguing the point, just that it was interesting I've never paid attention to this point before, and the first time I did I saw all four people covering the teeth. Now I'll be watching every singer I see.

This is definitely more common in the choir style.

Keep in mind they were likely sorted by type and singing in their comfortable ranges - you can get away with covered teeth a lot more down there

Plus they have to blend. If any of them were really getting that bite and cut into the sound their voice would pop out and call attention to itself. Great for lead but not so much for group vocals

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