Are you familiar with "the lips, the teeth, the tip of the tongue" tongue twister? If you've watched the comical movie "School of Rock" with Jack Black, you'd probably realize that it's a vocal warmup technique but it's so much more.
One of our previous blog posts examined the practice of sticking out the tongue as far as possible to help with singing, which has been well received by a number of readers who are singer-songwriters. We thought it would be a good idea to go a little more in-depth by talking about the tongue twister concept.
Why tongue twisters
Vocal warmup techniques are highly recommended by vocal coaches and are practiced by professional singer-songwriters, as well as straight singers and even voice-over artists. They include everything from sticking out the tongue to making weird faces. However, tongue twisters add another, well, twist (pardon the pun) to vocal warmups in that they can be quite funny but still get the job done. Here's someone having fun with the technique.
In addition, they can help you learn to control or eliminate mouth clicks that can take away from the singing performance. Tongue twisters also assist you in dealing with sibilance issues, how to properly handle the microphone, controlling plosives, and also correct breathing techniques so you don’t run out of breath while singing.
How it all works
When you vocalize, the tip of the tongue, the teeth, and the lips all come into play to produce the intended sound. But it’s not just about making a sound. Articulation, which allows you to shape the sound, is also important. Proper coordination of the tongue, teeth, and lips are what allow you to articulate in a way that your words are coherent to most people and your tone still sounds melodious. This is especially crucial for singer-songwriters whose success is not only dependent on having what is considered a good singing voice but also making sure listeners can hear and understand their lyrics.
Working the tongue tip, teeth, and lips
The tip of the tongue, the teeth, the lips tongue twister is a technique you can really use for better control of consonants. For one, you get to focus on mastering the use of the ‘th’ sound, as well as tongue placement. Focusing on the placement of your tongue as you say each word ensures that you become super comfortable with getting the tongue tip in between the teeth (like when you say ‘the’), dealing with plosive sounds from some consonants (such as the ‘p’ in tip), and dealing with consonant combinations on a whole (saying the whole tongue twister).
When using this tongue twister (and all others for that matter), you need to say the words at a good pace. Of course, you’ll probably end up running out of breath, mixing up the words, or maybe even biting your own lips when you just get started, but daily practice will allow you to get better at it. Soon, you will be able to say “the tip of the tongue, the teeth, the lips” real fast without skipping a beat. The video below will help you with getting started and mastering the technique.
"The lips, the teeth, the tip of the tongue" tongue twister is one that you should add to your list of tricks for better singing, whether for warming up, relieving vocal tension, or to strengthen your vocal abilities. There are many other vocal warmup tongue twisters that can help you become better vocally but this is a great starting point if you've never used tongue twisters before or if you want to add to your list.
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