Jaw Tightness –
Relax And Unleash Your Singing Voice!
Some singers experience jaw tightness when they sing, feeling the jaw strain and tense up whenever they open their mouths or lower their jaw when singing.
This problem sets in especially during high notes, and singers may start to experience jaw tension as they try to reach higher and higher notes in the song, or even when belting or projecting their voice with an open mouth or lowered jaw.
As with all other undesirable vocal habits or singing problems mentioned in this website, the keyword is for us to RELAX our muscles when we sing. This includes our throat, our jaw, our neck muscles and so on!
When we talk about our jaw, we want to achieve an open jaw without too much strain, able to open easily as well as close without tension. This means that when we sing, our jaws should not be tightly clenched together, so that we can open our mouths easily.
Our jaw should also not be forced open too widely beyond our comfort level, as this will mean unnecessary jaw tightness, possibly causing related tension in our neck muscles, as well as create too much throat tightness as well!
Our jaw should feel free to move up and down as well as sideways, and we can test this by opening our mouths and jaw, and gently shifting our jaw from side to side while our mouths are open. We should be able to do this without too much tension or strain on our jaw muscles, and this will mean that our jaw is relaxed when it is open.
Another way to overcome jaw tightness is for us to imagine ‘lifting’ the top part of our head off from our jaw, whenever we open our mouths to sing! This will enable us to concentrate on the top part of our mouths, without putting too much strain on our lower jaw, which is the source of much jaw tension.
If we place one finger from each hand just below our ears, we should be able to feel our jaw gently ‘unhinging’ itself as we open our mouths! This should take place naturally and in a relaxed manner, and imagining the top part of our mouths lifting off the jaw will help us reduce unnecessary tension in our jaw muscles!
We can also try another jaw-opening exercise: In a seated or standing position, lean your head as far back as is comfortable to do so, and then gently open your mouth, letting your jaw drop in a relaxed manner. Keeping our mouths open like this, gently return your head to a forward-facing and neutral position, with our eyes at regular eye-level, and feel how our jaw is open in a relaxed and tension-free state.
Now that we understand how to open our jaw in a relaxed manner, we can try some simple singing exercises that help us to practise opening and closing our jaw easily.
Gently place one finger on our chin, and with our head in a relaxed and neutral position and our eyes at normal eye-level, say this: “Yah Yah Yah…”, all the while practising the opening of our jaw in a relaxed manner, visualizing our mouth lifting up and our lower jaw dropping comfortably as we say these words. We can also sing these words in a simple musical scale for warmup, so that we are able to reduce jaw tightness at various notes when singing, especially for the higher notes in a song.
Our finger is placed on our chin to keep our chins relaxed, and we can gently pull our chins in when we say these “Yah” words, so as to get our jaws to gently pull in as we sing. This will help prevent us from also sticking our jaw out when we sing, constraining our singing voice.
While we open our jaws to sing, we should also try to keep our tongue in a relaxed state, resting flat in our mouths and just gently touching the back of the teeth on our lower jaw. This will help to prevent our tongue from rolling back when we open our mouths, and obstructing some of the wonderful sound that our vocal cords would be producing when we sing! We can monitor our tongue position by feeling it in our mouths, as well as observing ourselves in the mirror when we do the jaw exercises above.
Also, as with all other undesirable vocal habits, a strong foundation in breathing for singing, as well as strong breath support from doing regular breathing exercises, will certainly be beneficial in helping us to take the tension off our other muscles, reducing unnecessary jaw tightness and achieve a relaxed and powerful voice!
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