Matt Edwards

Associate Professor of Voice, Shenandoah Conservatory Artistic Director of the CCM Vocal Pedagogy Institute

Mix it up Monday: Tongue-out phonation

Tongue out

“Mix it up Monday” is a new series on the blog. Each Monday I will post an exercise for you to try out in the studio or in your own practice. If you have an idea you would like to share, please comment below. If you want to receive a message each time a new post is added, be sure to “follow” the blog. Thanks for reading! ~Matt

This week I am featuring an exercise by Sarah L. Schneider called “Tongue-Out Phonation” from the book Exercises for Voice Therapy edited by Alison Behrman and John Haskell.

Last week’s post included semi-occluded vocal tract exercises as well as tongue release exercises as part of a regimented warm-up routine. This week’s exercise combines both tongue release and semi-occluded vocal tract work in one exercise and then expands the tongue release work into text. Since the exercise is designed for speech, I’ve made slight adjustments for singers. For a full description of the original exercise, check out the article on pages 87-88 of Exercises for Voice Therapy.

  1. Extend the tongue over the bottom lip, inhale, and hum (wrapping your lips around your tongue). Work up and down the range on 1-2-3-2-1 and 1-2-3-4-5-4-3-2-1 patterns to warm-up the voice while simultaneously releasing the tongue.
  2. For the second step, you will once again extend the tongue over the bottom lip and inhale, but this time you are going to add a vowel. First begin with a sigh on /a/. If the tongue is particularly tight in the back, it may try to retract while inhaling and phonating. Have the student monitor the movement of their tongue with a mirror to raise their awareness of this reflex.
  3. Next build an exercises using the consonants /m/ and /b/ with the vowel /a/. For instance, you could chant /ba-ba-ba-ba-ba/ or /ma-ma-ma-ma-ma/ on a single pitch. You could also use the same consonant vowel combinations on three or five note scales.
  4. Next pick a simple phrase to sing, such as “I love to sing” on a 5-4-3-2-1 pattern and sing it with the tongue out. The vowels and consonants will not be accurate, but you will be training the body to release the posterior tongue muscles while singing words.
  5. Now alternate between tongue-out and tongue-in singing on the same phrase. Try to maintain the same freedom in the back of the tongue found in the tongue-out phonation when you allow the tongue to rest in the mouth.
  6. You can also use tongue-out phonation in the context of a song in order to train the body to release the posterior tongue muscles.

I’ve found this exercise to be extremely useful in the voice studio. Try it out and let me know what you think in the comment section below.

Thanks for reading!


5 comments on “Mix it up Monday: Tongue-out phonation

  1. Brian Lee
    October 27, 2015

    Great exercise. Gives us an opportunity to see a problematic tension with our eyes as well as learning how to feel and hear what’s going on.


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This entry was posted on October 26, 2015 by in Constriction, Mix it up Monday, Tongue, Vocal Exercises.

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