Associate Professor of Voice, Shenandoah Conservatory Artistic Director of the CCM Vocal Pedagogy Institute
When 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.
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.
(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!