The Most Important Thing Beginning Singers Need to Know
Open Your Mouth to Improve Your Singing
"Let me out" cried the voice inside. "Please, I beg you, open the gates to the jaw and mouth wide enough for me to escape. Release me."
If your voice could talk to you when you sing, this is the plea you would hear. So don't be afraid to show off those pearly whites. Open your mouth to project your sound, especially when singing any word containing the "Ah" vowel. This is the most important thing singers need to know other than breathing correctly.
Now, let's look at the benefits for opening wide when you sing.
Vocal Tones Can Only be Projected When The Mouth is Generously Opened
Yawning Exercise For Opening The Back of the Throat
In singing, backspace refers to the space in the back of the mouth as well as your throat. This is something all singers must learn to do as early as possible. The result of not learning to do this is a 'swallowed" sound, a non-pleasing sound, trapped in the very back of your throat.
Try the following exercise to help you create the open space needed for a great, free tone:
- Yawn. Make it a real yawn. Relax your body and simply yawn. Do this 2 - 3 times.
- This is where awareness and feeling come into play. This is how the soft palate is activated and lifts to make room in the back of the throat.
- Feel the open space you've created in the back of your mouth and throat.
- Now yawn with your lips closed. This is the open space you need. Feel it. Practice it.
- Make this feeling a part of your everyday routine. This can be practiced while driving, sitting, during commercials while watching television, waiting in line, bathing, walking or laying down.
The soft palate is located in the very back of your throat. It's a 'moon-shaped' look which appears at the end of the hard palate (roof of the mouth.) Whenever you yawn your soft palate will rise to create more space in the mouth.
Yawning Improves Singing by Creating More Space in The Throat
Sing Better, Sing Stronger With an Open Mouth
Here's a tip to help you open your mouth wider. It's simple and it works. Wash and dry your hands before you do the following:
- Locate the first and second finger on either your right or left hand.
- Place these two fingers perpendicular just inside your mouth between your front upper and lower teeth.
- Keep your jaw relaxed.
- This is about how much space you will need for singing specific vowels - especially the sound of ah. (Of course, this doesn't apply to vowels Ee, Eh, Oh and Oo).
- Now with the fingers still in your mouth sing ah on a comfortable pitch. Avoid singing too high or too low.
- Hold the ah sound for the count of 5.
- Repeat 6 times.
- Repeat this exercise but this time remove the fingers from your mouth on the count of two, still sustaining the ah sound.
It's natural to feel uncomfortable in the beginning especially if you normally sing with a small mouth opening. Don't worry about it. Keep practicing and before you know it singing this way will feel normal.
Check out the video below for more coaching on this exercise.
Drop Your Jaw to Project Your Singing
Another Way to Feel Space Inside Your Mouth For Singing
The following exercise is one that I teach my vocal students regardless of the level of expertise they claim to have:
- To feel the space inside your mouth pretend that you have an egg in the back of your mouth. If you're not an egg lover pretend it's a golf ball.
- When air is moved through your mouth the "egg" space remains open.
- Sing a section of your favorite song, finding the openness of the yawn, and imagining the golf ball or egg space in the back of your throat.
- Then practice singing words containing the Ah vowel, such as hot, and pretend you have a golf ball in your mouth.
Warning: Do not use a real golf ball or an egg.
Good Singing Requires a Generous Mouth Opening
Don't Forget The Water
Singers require more water than non-singers. This is because the throat must be moist during singing. This includes practice and rehearsal time too. Be sure your water is room-temperature. Cold drinks will restrict your vocal chords and this is the last thing you want to happen. Singers must keep the throat moist during practice, rehearsal and performance.
Avoid anything that may cause dryness to your throat. This includes medications and anti-histamines. Of course, smoking, caffeine, and alcohol is a strict no-no and this includes vaping.
And if you're a screamer or yell often damage to your throat is right around the corner.
Singers Require Plenty of Water
Who Told You That You Can't Sing?
So once upon a time, someone (who knows nothing about the mechanics of singing), told you your voice stinks. Baloney! Hogwash! Ridiculous! This is like telling you "you can't talk." If you can speak - you can sing. But you must open your mouth wide enough for the sound to escape. You must drop your jaw.
You have just what you need right now. You have the talent (which is another word for working hard), the qualifications (you were given the right singing tools when you were born.) Your singing may not be as professional sounding as someone else, but that's okay. You're not competing with them. You're only competing with yourself. You only have to become the best that you can be.
Transform Your Singing By Really Listening To Your Sound
Great singing is all about feeling the mechanics of the voice. It's an awareness you must incorporate as you vocalize. Only when you are aware of your true sound are you able to bring about change. Study the way you sound and how your body feels as you sing. Listen to the texture, the tone, and control in each phrase. This is especially important when you first learn to sing. And it's a crucial step to practicing vocal exercises.
As an example, focus on being present with every breath you take. Don't let your attention wander. Concentrate on breathing from the belly instead of the chest and shoulders.
Breathe in all of the air you need for each phrase. Take in enough air, but don't inhale more air than is needed to sing through the phrase. This can cause swelling in the vocal bands. In other words, measure just how much air is needed for every phrase.
You begin to transform your vocal sound the very instant you develop awareness. I'm not talking about judging how you sound. I'm saying "be your own teacher" and pay attention to the technical control you have.
Do you think you don't have the talent to sing? Well, you do. You were born with the tools needed to develop a fine voice. These tools are available to you right now. You simply need to learn how to use them properly.
Beyond listening is hearing. First, you listen; then you hear.
I've dedicated half my life to helping others to sing with a better voice. I love it! What a privilege. I can't begin to tell you how blessed I feel.
The singing voice is closely related to one's self-esteem. When I witness the personal growth and development of both the student and their singing voice I am over-the-moon happy. With knowledge, practice, and dedication, oh, how high our confidence grows.
In a way, the mouth is a very personal thing and to be asked to expose our teeth and tongue can be uncomfortable. But the mouth is the biggest resonator in our body. And what does this oral cavity resonate? Sound. The sound of life and the sound of singing and laughing.
So, open your mouth and free your voice. Let it ring. Stop judging your sound. Just Sing!
Free Your Voice to the Possibilities
If your song is to continue you must do the singing.
Has this article convinced you to open your mouth more when you sing?
Questions & Answers
When singing vowels can the mouth be kept wide open?
Of course, not. You must learn the correct moth positions for each vowel.
© 2017 Audrey Hunt