The Tongue as Culprit: increasing vowel clarity and improving legato through releasing unnecessary tongue tension

Ruth Rainero, MA

What in the world was God thinking when she designed the tongue? Why dedicate the delicate motor activity of articulation and vowel formation to a muscle primarily designed for the gross motor activity of pushing food down? Singers and other voice users have been suffering ever since.

Tongue tension will greatly impede the creation of a fully resonant sound and the ability to move smoothly and seamlessly from one pitch to another and from one vowel to another. Such tension will also cause consonants to separate—rather than connect—said vowels. Unfortunately, such is the nature and location of the tongue that often neither student nor teacher are aware of this inhibiting tension. This workshop discusses the problems inherent in vowel and consonant formation, how to recognize aurally when the tongue is being used incorrectly, and how to achieve efficient tongue use. It offers clear and simple exercises for vowel formation and for vowel and vowel/consonant transitions. (Optional: discussion of sounds not found in English, e.g. Italian 'gl', French nasalized consonants, French and German 'ü', Dutch 'ij' and 'ui', and the tongue-specific problems they create for non-native speakers.)

Click here to return to the schedule/abstract listing