The jaw is a powerful player in singing. Betcha didn’t know that most people can generate a minimum of one hundred and fifty pounds of force between their teeth with the world record for human bite strength being 965 pounds. The muscle in charge is the masseter muscle which is located on the sides of your face.
You’ve probably heard the old saws regarding the jaw’s proper action in singing such as “keep your jaw relaxed” or “drop your jaw”. The truth is that to lower your jaw you have to activate muscles (the lateral pterygoid muscles for you voice nerds). Action to open, relaxation to close. You definitely don’t want a locked jaw, but a firmed masseter muscle can be extremely helpful especially for high, belty, rock singing.
A firm jaw can still be flexible. Check for flexibility by imaginging you’re biting something with your back molars. That will firm your masseter muscle. Now say yeh, yeh, yeh, really fast. In the mirror, you should notice that your jaw is moving up and down really fast. This is the action I call firm but not tense or locked. Firming the jaw this way can also help you even out your vibrato and help you keep your voice-box more stable in case it likes to move up and down a lot in your throat as your pitch goes up and down. So don’t be too afraid of jaw firming in singing- just make sure you’re not clenching. Remember, firm but flexible.
Celebrity voice coach Lisa Popeil has an MFA in Voice and is one of America’s top voice experts. Creator of the Total Singer DVD and the Voiceworks® Method. www.popeil.com
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Originally posted 2009-10-02 01:55:39.