Your mouth is an acoustic chamber and makes as much difference to your sound as singing in a grand echoey cathedral or a small squashy carpeted curtained room.
To encourage you to make the most conducive space in your mouth for singing, I could demand the following:
Raise your soft palate!
Relax your tongue root!
Open your throat!
Loosen your jaw!
Or, I could ask you to use your imagination to do the following:
Imagine an egg. A very special egg that you don't want to break. Maybe inside the egg is a baby chick, or a baby dinosaur?
Put the egg in your mouth.
The point is to encourage you to make as much space as you can in the internal area of your mouth so that, as the sound passes through, it can ricochet around, growing in lovely warm resonance rather than being swallowed up and absorbed.
The feeling and imagery of having an egg inside your mouth when you sing keeps your tongue flat at the root base, the roof of your mouth (soft palate) high, your jaw loose and your throat open.
For other tips about using the resonating chamber of the mouth (pharynx) have a read of:
Good Vowel Naughty vowel
The golden golf ball
Let me know if the egg imagery works for you!
Today 11 year old Tait started preparing for his School of Rock video entry. Here's his first shot - pretty good already! I love how Tait has such an easy flow to his voice and such a clear tone. We worked on
1) Singing on the vowels not the consonants.
Vowels allow the throat to be open, and the space in the mouth to become a productive resonating chamber for the sound: like singing in a lovely big cathedral!
Consonants, while great for storytelling, energy and engaging the diaphragm (another topic!) they also shut the mouth, make the tongue get in the way and potentially tighten the jaw.
In the video, you can see how Tait makes sure he sings on the vowels, especially as he starts to sing higher.
2) Using different vocal registers.
People talk about "head voice", "middle voice" and "chest voice". I don't believe we have three voices but there are different techniques that need to be applied when you're singing in different parts of your range. To get the best sound from every note in your range (clear, warm easy, non-breathy, powerful, controlled yet free!) you need to understand really understand your voice.
For example, when you sing higher, you need (as above) to open the vowels wider, which consequentially loosens the jaw, which lowers the larynx (another topic!) and gets the tongue out of the way.
You also need to use more air support as you sing higher as the vocal chords become longer, thinner and tighter.
Listen to how Tait tries to adjust things as he moves into the very top of his range.
For more on this please take a read of:
"Singing tips for resonance" - Your personal EQ.
"Singing tips for resonance" - The house.
3) Dynamics and musicality.
These come naturally to Tait, as they will do for many of you, but listen to how the song grows, how the phrases seems to dance in the air. Tait and I have spent a lot of time encouraging him to use his dynamics and musicality so that his singing comes alive.
Saturday was very moving. 30 students aged between 5 and 18 arrived at the hall, many of who had never met each other, never sung together. We had about an hour to take all their singular hard work and put them together into a choir, like pieces of a very musical puzzle: over 30 songs, tied into mash ups and medleys, solos, duets, and group songs, songs ranging from modern pop to Musical Theatre classics.
There was some hesitancy on faces as I ushered them into seats and we dove straight into the opening number, "The Cup Song." Singing in front of each other for the first time must have been terrifying but each student rose to the challenge: the teenagers inspiring with their harmonies, the five year olds impressing with their bravery.
By the time the hall was full of parents, family and friends, yes, there were nerves in the air yet, what was most palpable was the focus and determination; each young singer readying themselves to do their best.
They were all wonderful and it was an honour and a joy to see their hard work pay off.
AND at the end of the concerts, our generous audience had dug deep into their pockets and surpassed my expectations with £400 raised this year for MIND. I chose to collect for MIND, as my father passed away when I was 15 from mental health illness. MIND are doing wonderful things for mental health awareness, especially by encouraging more of us to talk about this disease.
If you'd like to donate to MIND the please follow this link: