The Case: The wayward mouth!
The Singer: Emanuel, 28 years old, great writer but couldn’t get the lyrics out clearly on the beat!
Case Summary: Emmanuel was attending a part time vocals course as a writer/rapper but was experiencing extreme frustration with diction – constantly tongue tied and unable to deliver his insightful lyrics
For You? Any singer who wants to improve diction and stay relaxed!
A marked misplacement of the mouth muscles
As soon as I met Emanuel I noted that his mouth moved over to the right when he spoke and that his tongue seemed to be over active.
There was a slight whistling sound as he spoke; I had him chat to me about his lyrics and how he got into writing. As he relaxed these features reduced a little, I discerned that his habit could be related to nerves or anxiety.
Getting P’s and Q’s in place
I asked Emanuel to copy me as I stretched my tongue tip to various parts of my face and my lips into different shapes.
I then moved these stretches to unseen places instruction focusing on different parts of the tongue (back of teeth, alveolar ridge, roof of mouth, vellum etc.
Gradually we played at adding sounds to the stretches and a rhythm; I opted for sounds that were close (t and d / m and b / y and g etc)
We taped a few sound games of this kind and I sent Emanuel off to practice them – I had a text from him within three days to say that he was finding the work easier each time he did it.
Application of exercises in creative work
It can be very limiting to directly apply a technical exercise to a piece of creative work (a song, a rap or poem etc) but its always worth the risk!
On his return, I asked Emmanuel to play with some phrases in the way we had played our consonant games – so he should note where his tongue and lips etc. were during each turn of phrase.
We played at reciting these at varying speeds and the result was very positive – no more tongue tied sounds – perhaps the occasional trip at first.
Emanuel has gone on to more advanced breath and rhythm exercises and the sideways movement in his mouth is at times non-existent.
Sometimes by focusing entirely on the way sound is made, a person can relate this break down of phonetic shape to their sounds and language with the required accuracy.
This in turn can feed the confidence and so the skill of rapid and clear diction is more easily acquired