Heard that before? Of course – growing up, there are things that just ‘aren’t said’, and we hold them in by ‘holding our tongues’, quite literally. How often, as a grown up (which I assume most of you are), do you hold your tongue, literally and figuratively?
A lot, right?
All of that subconscious holding creates tension in the voice. The tongue is connected to the larynx via the hyoid bone, so whenever your tongue has tension, it affects the larynx. For example, I hold a fair bit of tension in my tongue; if I’m not completely conscious of it (and I’m certainly not, most of the time), every time I swallow (try it with me…) my tongue decides to stay attached to the roof of my mouth. Does yours? Try it again, let it get stuck there, and then feel the front of your neck as you release your tongue. Feel how your neck/throat/larynx released downward when you let go of your tongue? Yeah. So, if you’re a tongue tension person – and there are other ways to be that way besides the stuck-to-the-roof way – your larynx is probably USED TO being in a slightly tense/lifted position. So…
When you start to sing, you’re going to need to consciously release your tongue and larynx to get at your free voice.
Oh, how I love this fabulously glamourous stretch! Stick out your tongue as far as it will go, and bite down on it pretty firmly. Still biting your tongue, lift your chin up and forward, like a turtle sticking its head out of its shell. Feel the stretch in your throat? You’re actually stretching your tongue, from the bite point to the root! Often, we just stretch our tongue by sticking it out, but then we’re using the tongue muscles themselves to accomplish the stretch. This stretch releases the muscles passively, which helps us to get a more released tongue for singing.
Now THAT’s sexy. :)