Open Your Mouth and Sing!
Welcome to my singing lessons! Let me introduce you to a new topic for the month of April. In the next four weeks, I will be releasing content on my Instagram account and Youtube channel about ways to have a relaxed and opened jaw when you sing. If you have been reading my blog each month and watching tutorials videos on Youtube, then you know you are joining me on my vocal journey this year, so each step I share is something I am implementing in my own singing. The whole world is currently in a moment of pause separately but together. What better time than now to hone in on a skill?! If singing is new to you, do your best to follow along with my YouTube instructions. Keeping a growth mindset is a prerequisite to making progress in any skill. Whether you are new to singing or have experience in singing, you have found my blog because you want to sing better and acquire healthy habits. I encourage you, aim for the moon and you will catch some stars! If you aim for vocal growth, you will pick up vocal health in various areas along the way.
Personal Background: My Vocal Journey
I am re-centering my singing this year. Here is some background for you to understand what I mean by that statement. I come from what I call a shout-singing background in the form of congregational singing with loud music and electric guitars and drums blaring with a congregation that matches that volume, similar to a rock concert. Take that upbringing as a child through teen years and put it into classical musical school at the college level to learn my true voice for the very first time. I did not become a master, but I was provided with some wonderful knowledge to get me started on my path to vocal freedom and health. The trick is to apply what I learn continually on my own.
To shine a light on the topic of obtaining a relaxed and open jaw while singing, awareness in the jaw will help you notice if you are engaging your core. If you engage your core, you are successfully using breath anchored-ness. The first tutorial on my channel will show the correct position for the jaw and tongue. The correct position is this: allow your jaw to hang as if on a hinge. Take two fingers and press the chin. You should feel the jaw move back toward the ears when pressed and release forward when you stop pressing. That is the relaxed and open position to aim for as the general rule of thumb. I will include the steps to ensure a relaxed and open position with an exercise to help you feel it out for yourself in the week one tutorial video. It feels different at first, so consider it like learning to ride a bike for the first time. Trust the process! If it feels foreign then you are in good company! The last three lessons on my channel will focus on how to maintain the position of relaxed openness in song and how to counteract the tendency for the jaw to become rigid or resistant.
The opposite of a relaxed and open jaw is a rigid and resistant jaw. Sometimes such attributes can present themselves in either an overly active jaw or under-active jaw. To be over-active means your jaw widens and closes at unnecessary times in the pronunciation of words. That can cause fatigue. An under-active jaw then means the opposite scenario. One sign is people might tell you they can't hear you from far away without a microphone, or other music overpowers you during your solo. In private lessons, I usually include vowel warm-ups to get the student used to efficient vowel pronunciation. Exercising the articulators in warm-ups is a great way to get a feel for how the mouth moves to shape words. The goal is the move only the necessary articulators for any given word. If you can begin singing efficiently, you will less likely become exhausted from singing.
I believe that if you practice my April singing exercises, you will be able to sing more efficiently and have a fuller sound in your voice! You will experience less stress and harshness on the vocal folds, and less rigidity in your neck, shoulders, and jaw. These exercises will encourage greater core engagement and activate the breath flow. The energy from your breath flow will then instead of being absorbed into the muscles, will carry your voice by connecting to it. Pairing this concept (from previous months) with articulator exercises (this month) for efficiency will result in greater vocal sound and physical comfort.
If you have followed my tutorials and other content so far, then you are ready for this step. You have already learned how to relax your instrument which is the whole body (Stretching routine for Singers Alignment), connect your breath to your body (How to Connect Your Breath to Your Body), relax various muscles, and connect your airflow to your voice (How to Transfer Your Breath-Body Connection to Your Voice). All you have to do is open your mouth and sing!
As always, to view my content you can visit Free Your Voice channel on YouTube and follow my IG account @letmefreeyourvoice and like my Facebook page Hannah Fabean @letmefreeyourvoice. Don't forget to like, subscribe and share!