It’s Time to Reduce Tongue Tension | Exercises That Will Make a Difference

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Of course you'll do this with a clean cloth...
Published: April 13 2021

It’s Time to Reduce Tongue Tension

Tension is a sneaky little brat that annoys a singer. Tension convinces you it is helping. It makes you think you are working hard. The truth, however, is that tension dulls your sound and often sabotages tuning and flexibility. When tension is habitual, it can take months and even years to make tension-free singing come naturally. 

One body part that absolutely must stay relaxed when singing is the tongue. More specifically, the back or “root” of the tongue. Did you know that your larynx (voice box) hangs from your hyoid bone, which is attached to the root of your tongue? This means that your larynx is literally at the mercy of your tongue. Let’s test and train your tongue with a simple exercise.

Gently grasp the end of your tongue with a clean cloth and carefully pull it out of your mouth. Now, lay it down so it curves over on your lower lip onto your chin. Hold it there. Next, sing through an entire song or section on the vowel “Ah.” Your tongue never needs to move, since you have taken out the words. With your tongue extended like this, you should be able to sing from your lowest to highest note at any volume – even though it feels pretty strange. 

If you tense up your tongue, it will pull back and you’ll lose your grip! Your goal is to sing through any melody keeping your tongue passive. If you can do that – your tongue is free of tension. I use this exercise from time to time to check with myself on how I am doing with tongue tension. I use this both to test for tension as well as to get rid of tension.

Kathy  Alexander
VP Curriculum, Singdaptive

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