How to Relax Your Jaw

Submitted by Hannah Fabean on Sat, 09/12/2020 - 18:20

Happy September, Songbirds! We have already reached the end of August and are preparing for so many things for the fall. Students are going back to school, grown-ups are going back to work or finding new work, but none of it is business as usual. We can apply the same to our singing. We don't want singing as usual here at the Free Your Voice studio. We want growth! Our voices must remain resilient and flexible as conditions around us change, affecting the physical and emotional state of our voices. I hope you are still singing and are keeping up with my blogs and videos so far! If not, it is not too late to hop on board my community vocal journey for 2020. I am already thinking about a plan for our 2021 journey, and what to call it.

In August we talked about how to smoothen your vocal range, and now it’s time to talk about how to relax your jaw as you learn to sing more freely and with greater resonance! This also means gaining relief from any tension in your jaw muscles that you have been experiencing.

How Relaxed Feels

When you achieve a relaxed jaw, it will feel like you are almost singing like a lazy person, but really you are singing with efficiency. (Isn't that what we want people to think when we are being lazy? Ha!) The goal is to use the necessary energy and effort, no more and no less. That means you only need to move your jaw a certain number of times within the song to release the most open and relaxed tone with the proper articulation and pronunciation of the lyrics. We all have tendencies to give or withhold certain levels of effort at the wrong times. Our goal for September is to use the jaw in the right way and at the right timing.

Strategies for Jaw Efficiency

There are multiple ways to relax the jaw and encourage the right level of engagement at necessary times for the jaw to move while you are singing. Here are weekly subtopics for this month's tutorial videos: 1. find the relaxed and open position and return to it as much as possible, 2. isolate the movement of your lips and tongue from your jaw, 3. isolate core engagement from muscles around the voice including your jaw, 4. establish when it is necessary to move the jaw itself. The Tuesday tutorials will cover each of these topics and pair it with a mini-performance from me with an exercise to bring into your practice time. I hope you sing along in each one to feel it out for yourself!

Isolating Certain Muscles

Since we only want to move the jaw when we need to, (pronunciation of a word or volume of the dynamic) it is important to differentiate the feeling of moving your jaw from moving your lips or tongue. Distinguishing the movement of the lips and tongue are more difficult because they are so close together. Being able to distinguish the movement of the articulators will help you find the relaxation of your jaw because you will have a better sense of when each of their services is required. Singing "ah-ay-ah" only requires the tongue muscle and singing "oh-ah-oh" only requires the lips. The jaw does not have to move at all for either of these vowel combinations. Another little known secret to many singers is that only the tongue is truly required for the "ee" vowel. The jaw does not need to move at all. Stay tuned for my September tutorials to see demonstrations of these exercises and to find out when you would really need to move your jaw, and find your jaw relief!

As always, to view my weekly tutorial videos you can visit Free Your Voice channel on YouTube and follow my IG account @letmefreeyourvoice for daily singing tips and music sharing, and you can like my Facebook page Hannah Fabean @letmefreeyourvoice to help promote me as a voice teacher. Like, subscribe and share the blogs and videos that help you!