Marathon Month of Alexander & Singing Technique 1 Minute Tips

The First Singing Tip of April

Going right for the singing jugular: tongue tension

No April Fools! Today is the first one-minute tip on combining the Alexander Technique & Singing to find your most free, easy, and beautiful voice. We’ll be releasing a tip each day during the month of April, leading up to the application deadline on May 1st for our two week summer intensive in NYC August 4-17. Join us and apply today!

As a student of singing, have you ever been told to release your tongue? Keep the tip of your tongue at the bottom of your lower teeth? Keep the back of your tongue high and wide? Have an “NG” tongue? Don’t think about your tongue? Leave your tongue easy? Imagine your tongue is a wet dish rag?

Phew. It’s enough to leave you tongue tied. The tongue is so central to human communication, and especially singing, and there can be a lot of varying ideas on how to address it.

How the Alexander Technique can help: one of the elements of the Alexander Technique is to give students an accurate body map, knowing how their anatomy works, and through the hands on work that is special to the Alexander Technique, giving the student an experience of that accurate body map operating in the a free, easy, and optimal way.

LEFT: What most of us think of when we think of “tongue”. RIGHT: There’s a little more to the tongue picture.

LEFT: What most of us think of when we think of “tongue”. RIGHT: There’s a little more to the tongue picture.

So, first some ideas for accurately mapping your tongue: Look at the photo of the guy on the right, sticking his tongue out. Is this what you think of as your tongue? Most people just think of their tongue as what they see in every day life. Stick out your tongue at someone, or in the mirror, and see how much of your tongue you can see. Is this what you normally think of as your tongue? When you think of giving your tongue directions in your singing, do you only think of this part of the tongue?

Now look at the second picture on the right. This is a picture of the tongue taken as if you were looking at someone in profile, from their right, with the jaw cut away to better see the ginormous tongue. The tongue is actually HUGE, made up of many muscles, and there is a lot of it that is not included in “what you see when you stick out your tongue”. Two key points for today’s accurate body-mapping, are notice where there’s some white in the tongue muscle. Those are the tendons where the tongue connects at the inside of the chin, and also below the chin and further back at the hyoid bone.

You can find your hyoid bone by lightly feeling beneath your chin, and going down your neck until you find a small horseshoe shaped bone above your adam’s apple.

Can you take a moment to sense the distance between where your tongue attaches at the hyoid bone and the tip of your tongue?

Can you take a moment to sense the distance between where your tongue attaches at the inside of the chin and the highest furthest back part of it, where you say “ng”, as in “sing”, or where your tongue touches your soft palate when you snore?

Can you sense those two distances while you also sense the width of your tongue?

Can you breathe while maintaining this awareness? Can you sing while maintaining this awareness?

Do you feel like you have a more accurate map of your tongue? How does your tongue feel? More easy? More release?

Now in an Alexander Technique lesson, experienced teachers will also gently use their hands to help guide you towards an experience of ease and release with this more accurate body map. But this is the internet, and hands on is kind of hard. So if you’re interested in this kind of work, check out our summer nyc intensive August 4-17, application deadline May 1st. Or check in tomorrow for tomorrow’s Alexander Technique & Singing one-minute tip!