Do you grind your teeth at night? Are you habitually tense? Is your posture not that great? Do you think your voice is not as resonant as it could be?
All these seemingly unrelated questions might have one common denominator – jaw tension.
We probably all experienced the sensation of biting down and clenching our jaw when we were stressed at one point or another. And while this is never a pleasant feeling, it can turn into a problem long term, especially if you are a singer or speaker. These problems will usually manifest themselves in one or both of the following ways:
1. You experience tightness, tension, discomfort or even pain in your jaw, neck or face after singing- and speaking-related tasks (or possibly even during something completely unrelated like eating).
2. Your voice loses its brilliance or resonance, certain parts of your range become less responsive or harder to navigate, or your articulation/diction suffers.
If you notice any of these problems, it is usually a good idea to have a closer look at your jaw, both with your voice/singing teacher or vocal coach, but also with the help of your dentist, physiotherapist and/or speech and language therapist. I cannot stress the importance of the latter enough, because some of these issues cannot be fixed by a vocal practitioner and need the help of a medical professional.
It is needless to say that not everyone with problems in area 2 mentioned above has problems with their jaw. Oftentimes, the problems are completely unrelated to your jaw, but it is nevertheless a good starting point to look into (even if it is just to eliminate it as a reason). Most people move their jaws completely fine, and it is only that the jaw isn’t able to perform certain tasks independently from the other articulators (like the lips and especially the tongue). In these cases, a few exercises to separate the function (as far as possible) will usually suffice.
If you feel that any of this could be at the bottom of your singing- or speaking problems, you might find the following video interesting. I talk about the potential reasons and origins of jaw tension/pain and give a few tips where to start in your quest to eliminate them.
If you have any questions or think you could do with an assessment, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
© Petra Borzynski 2018