Singers do This to Battle Vocal Tension
Recently, we got some good feedback from the singers on our platform when asked the question “ why does my voice sound good one day but bad the next?
Among the advice given was some vocal warmup tips, including working the facial muscles and sticking out the tongue. The latter was one that seemed to stand out for readers, with a few asking “does sticking out your tongue as far as possible help with singing?”
Of course, it was only fair that we followed up to explain the reasoning behind this technique and whether it was supported in the singing community. Right off the bat, it was found that sticking out the tongue is one of the vocal warmup methods recommended by multiple vocal coaches to singers, regardless of vocal styling.
Why you Need Vocal Warmups
Singers, whether amateur or professional, can have their voices impacted by a number of factors, ranging from environmental to health conditions. Pollen in the air can irritate the respiratory apparatus, tiredness can put a strain on the vocal chords, and even depression (mental health) can trigger tightness in the throat region. All this leads to what is sometimes referred to as vocal tension, or to be more precise, tongue root tension.
To get just a little technical, the tongue, being a muscular structure which helps regulate and control actions such as breathing, talking, and swallowing, directly dictates the singing sounds that you emanate. Moreover, its root helps make up the front wall of the throat, so all sounds you make vocally have to contend with the tongue. In fact, the tongue plays a major role in how good your vocal productions sound if you’re a singer who also records music
It’s no problem if your tongue is all free – it will facilitate the most beautiful sounds you can imagine possible with your voice. But when there is tension, the larynx and vocal chords can’t move freely or open up as much as they should to help produce those joyous sounds. What results is a flat pitch, cracking of the voice, or even temporary loss of voice.
How it Works
Feeling tongue-tied locks up your vocal chords and prevents the free flow of air and good breathing that results in the melodic singing voice you (and listeners) want to hear. When you stick your tongue out as far as possible, this helps to free up the entire tongue structure.
Here are the basics of how it’s done (note that different vocal coaches can incorporate or suggest other tongue exercises):
- Begin by slowly extending your tongue out and then retracting it several times
- Extend your tongue out as far as possible while making a vowel sound such as ‘ah,’ all the time keeping it pointed and straight
- While sticking your tongue out, move it from one side of your mouth to the other side repeatedly
- When you stick your tongue out, maintain a pleasant expression.
If you’ve never done this before, you can probably imagine just how weird you might look while making such a face. This is why some singing students might initially feel abashed when vocal coaches instruct them to stick their tongue out as far as possible to help with singing clearly. However, when practiced and done properly as part of your vocal warmup routine, it will help your tongue muscles relax and, by extension, your vocal chords. You will start feeling a lift of the tension as soon as you start doing it.
So, does sticking out your tongue as far as possible help with your singing problems? Barring other underlying issues that might require medical assistance, sticking out your tongue combined with other vocal exercises can definitely help you to keep your singing voice sounding its best. These exercises are recommended to be practiced every day to keep vocal tension away.