What is most of my students’ biggest mistake? I’ll be honest, I have not yet had a student that did not have jaw issues. Not only they, but some of my most successful colleagues have those issues. I have them too, it’s an epidemic. It often results in a tired voice or sore throat.
Is this simply a matter of bad habits, which can be reversed and corrected? I think so, having seen how I could turn it around. And so has anyone that put their minds to it. Bad habits are bitches, and take some time to correct, but they are not the boss of us. We are.
So, what does “jaw issues” even mean? It’s when your jaw muscles are tense, especially the lower jaw, thereby tensing your tongue, neck and throat muscles, and preventing your trachea (the airway) from being loose and free, affecting your voice for the worse.
- You may not open your mouth enough
- You may do all mouth movements in a forceful manner
- your mouth may be opened but not relaxed
- your jaw might be too forward
Like Erik in the video above, singing and/or speaking for a while with tense jaw muscles can and probably will get your voice tired and sore.
A first exercise to get over it
Chances are that this is not the first time you hear or think about this. You might be thinking: “well done for the discovery of the century, Linor, but what can I do about it? Just get over it??”
Well, firstly, yes. It is not as hard as you might think. It will be a long process. For some longer than for others, but as said, changing one’s habits takes time. That’s fine, it is so very worth it.
So how is this done?
There are quite a few tricks to loosening the lower jaw, which I will specify in another article (yes, there are QUITE a few tricks). Here, I will give you a general guide to everyday life, so you could really start changing you vocal instrument for the better.
Start by being aware of your lower jaw’s location and activity throughout the day, not only when you practice. If you stop thinking about it at noon and remember again only at night – never mind, just get back to it when you do. Every time your remember it do this exercise.
Imagine the following:
Keep some air in between the upper and lower teeth in the back of the mouth, and move the lower jaw around a bit, up and down and side to side. Feel the tip of your tongue resting on the floor of the mouth and slowly sinking down, dragging the lower jaw with it.
When I say imagine, I mean it as opposed to actively doing the actions I listed. Simply picture them in your mind, have an image of yourself doing those things. The action will follow as a result of your brain giving the orders to your body.
Could you imagine all those things? Did they happen after you thought of them? I just thought of it myself and it happened. That’s how I go about loosening my jaw.
If you do that for a week you will feel like a different person. But that is only the beginning: now you need to turn the technique into a habit while you sing, and I mean every time you take a breath to sing. That’s how it will become a part of your singing system.
Also check out…
My other post about this topic: A hoarse voice – causes and treatment.
UPDATE: How Erik is doing 6 months later.