Associate Professor of Voice, Shenandoah Conservatory Artistic Director of the CCM Vocal Pedagogy Institute
Jaw tension is a common complaint amongst singers. Vowels that require the jaw to relax and lower, such as /a/, can be quite problematic even though it would seem that producing an /a/ vowel should be second nature. We have two sets of muscles that control jaw movement: those that lower the jaw (anterior body of the digastric, geniohyoid, and the mylohyoid)
and those that close the jaw (internal pterygoid, masseter, and the temporalis).
The larger and stronger of these muscles are those that close the jaw, after all these are the muscles that we use to bite down on food. If they were weak we would have problems eating an apple, Cinnabon, or triple cheeseburger.
Today I am going to introduce an exercise for releasing the masseter.
Both my wife and I use this exercise and have observed that it works well in most cases. As always, it is important to remember that each student is unique and there is never an exercise that is a silver bullet for all singers, even if they have the same technical problem.
The source of this exercise is Gillyanne Kayes’ “Singing and the actor,” a great text for your pedagogy library (special thanks to my wife Jackie for pointing this exercise out to me). If you have other suggestions for releasing jaw tension, please comment below. Thanks for reading!