Matt Edwards

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

Mix it up Monday: Tongue Mobility Exercises

New CCM Institue BannerWhen a student is struggling to produce vowels or consonants, or their tongue is constantly trying to retract, teachers will often say the student has “tongue tension.” However, I think in most cases the issue is actually a lack of tongue mobility. James C. McKinney, author of “The Diagnosis and Correction of Vocal Faults” calls this hyperfunctional use of the tongue. McKinney suggests several different exercises.

  1. Introduce the student to the sensations of both a protruded and retracted tongue by having them alternate between sticking their tongue out and pulling it back.
  2. Run the tip of the tongue in circles around the inside of the upper lip and the lower lip. Do this several times clockwise and then counter-clockwise.
  3. Have the student stick their tongue out and try to touch their nose and then their chin. Do this several times.
  4. Lay the tip of the tongue on the bottom lip and vocalize (see post here).
  5. Finally, design exercises that incorporate frontal consonants including d, t, n, and l.

I like to mix these frontal consonants with vowels that are formed with the front half of the tongue. I work each line individually then try to do several combinations in a row as the student’s agility improves.

Tongue Mobility Exercises 2016 Blog-1.png

(If you are unfamiliar with the IPA vowel symbols, click here)

It may take several weeks to notice improvement, but if you keep working on these types of exercises you should notice a significant decrease of tension in the tongue. Click this link, Tongue Mobility Exercises, to download a notated version of these exercises. When your students have conquered these, try the more complex exercises I blogged about here.

Thanks for reading!


2 comments on “Mix it up Monday: Tongue Mobility Exercises

  1. Pingback: Mix it up Monday: Strategies for reducing jaw tension | Matthew Edwards

  2. Pingback: Mix it up Monday: How to allow placement to reveal itself (pt. 2) | Matt Edwards

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This entry was posted on April 11, 2016 by in Constriction, Mix it up Monday, Tongue, Vocal Exercises.

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