Resonance: The Jaw

Jaw Mobility

I talk a good bit about “dropping the jaw” while singing. This is a method of creating more space in your mouth so that the sound has more area to resonate, giving the voice a nice, warm tone. Keeping the jaw dropped and opening the mouth good and wide simply allows for better, clearer, more resonant sound.

However, you don’t want to keep your jaw dropped or lowered all the time. This is a beginning method to help the beginner singer to be mindful of the basics of singing. But the singing voice and vocal tract is not a fixed resonator system. What I mean by that is that the sound of your voice comes from a complex system that is your body, which is made up of muscle, bone and cartilage and is part of a system that is living and breathing. It’s not like a flute, an instrument with a fixed, unchanging body. So, no one position will work for all scenarios.

Constant alterations must be made in the vocal mechanism depending on the song, the vowel shapes required, the range and even the intensity. A constantly dropped jaw will cause all vowels to sound similar and unnatural and can also cause undue strain. The other parts of the vocal system are in constant flux: the lips, jaw, face, larynx, tongue, etc., and so with the jaw. None of the parts of the voice producing mechanism should be held in a fixed position.

Here are some extra tips if you want to learn how to sing like a professional singer.

Again, dropping the jaw has tremendous value and should be used when necessary. I’m not saying that it should be abandoned. In fact, another value of the dropped jaw is the lowering of the larynx. This is also a good thing. The goal for proper singing is a steady to slightly lowered larynx. This isn’t something you try to do consciously, of course, but will naturally happen when the jaw is lower. It also happens naturally with each full breath renewal. But with the hung-jaw, as some call it, which is an excessively lowered jaw, the larynx can be overly lowered.

So, have I completely confused you and freaked you out yet! Let me sum up what I’m trying to say.

You want to create space so that the sound you produce is full and resonant. This can be achieved, partially, by making sure the jaw is low (not hung), but it needs to be in flux, flowing naturally as you voice the different vowel positions and as the song changes in intensity and range.

I hope that is helpful!


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