A few months ago I wrote about the tongue and all of the ways it effects the breathing and speaking. The tongue continues to reveal itself to me as a huge influence in the overall use of the body. I hope your experimentation from the previous tongue blog entry has helped you.
The Tongue, Part 2 will address a few more thoughts about the tongue and ways to improve your speaking and singing.
Consciously release any downward pressure you may be putting on your body with your tongue by letting your tongue soften and drift upwards in your mouth (especially in the back of your mouth). Notice again how this frees up your breathing and immediately gives you a sense of lightness throughout your entire body.
Reestablish an easy exhale and inhale without pushing or sucking the air in or out. Close your lips on the inhale so you can breath in through the nose in the direction up behind the eyes and nose.
As you let the air come naturally in to your body, inflating you from the inside, you will experience the movement from your inhale up into your head, down to your pelvic floor, side to side and front to back in your torso, and in out in to your limbs. Make sure your ribs are allowed to respond to your breathing process. The air itself and the lungs don’t extend into your pelvis or limbs but you can sense the motion from the intake of the air throughout your entire system. Imagine the movement of the air giving you an internal massage that tones your organs.
Next, focus on the moment between your inhale and exhale (without anticipating the turn around of air or trying to control it in any way) and you will notice the breath suspends slightly before it turns around to go the other direction. Let that moment of suspension expand just a little bit and notice that your entire body can release into your directions (length, width, and depth) more when you allow the suspension to exist. The moment between your inhale and exhale can be particularly buoyant and grounded simultaneously.
Use that moment of more ease and freedom to begin your sound while speaking and singing. Make a vowel sound of your choice starting the sound just above your high tongue in the back of your oral cavity. The moment you are looking for may well be the moment when you feel you can’t make a sound and nothing will happen – go for that moment without squeezing the air out. The sounds will come out.
Let the air move ever so slightly behind the tongue up toward the soft palate and allow the sound to begin. Keep allowing the air to move gently up behind the tongue while you continue with the sound. Notice that you can sustain the sound for quite awhile in this suspended state.
Some practice phrases might be:
“Hello how are you” as the “h” encourages the air to move.
“Hi” for the same reason.
Counting to 10 or beyond as you can focus on the process rather than the content of the words.
Note: It is not necessary to move the air that is in the bottom of the lungs up to the top of the soft palate before you start the sound. I have found that many of us think we have to move the air that is in the lungs all the say up to the vocal cords in order to make a sound. Actually there is air in the whole tube all the time and you can use the air already in your column to produce the sound. This is a revelation to many people and helps reduce any squeezing that may be associated with the beginning of speaking or singing.
Next we will pay attention to where your body is vibrating while you make sound. Stay tuned.