Tongue Tension in Singers

Let’s talk about the tongue. I often come across singers with tongue issues. The biggest issue I come across is that their tongue likes to grab and bunch up at the back of their throat. This is known as tongue tension.

When the voice is at rest your tongue sits low in the mouth. Now if you say a ‘G’ sound- like in the word ‘Good’…try it! What happens is that the back of your tongue lifts up and then snaps down again. Your tongue is designed to help enunciate and form words so it will move around your mouth in order to do this.

What the tongue is not there to do is to help you to pitch. In other words, the tongue should not be moving up to help you get to the high notes. If you’ve got a stray tongue that likes to lift up with the pitch, that’s what will develop into tongue tension as the tongue will end up tight and lifted at the back of the mouth when it doesn’t need to be.

One way to start to fix this habit is this: Stick your tongue out as far as you can go. Now try singing your song with your tongue out. By pushing your tongue forwards and out of the mouth you leave much less tongue at the back of the mouth so it becomes more difficult for it to lift up and pull back. Once you find some success with this you can replace the tongue in your mouth but try to recreate the same feeling at the back of your mouth as you had when the tongue was sticking out.

You’ll know when you listen back to your singing if you’re getting on top of the tongue tension as your tone will become clearer and your higher notes will sound easier.


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