Friday, April 30, 2010

You have TOO MUCH space!

There is always disagreement in the singing world about how to do anything (this is putting it mildly!) and mouth space is no different.  I spend a lot of time reminding students to check their mouth space and saying things like "we open our mouth for pitch and power".  Recently I stumbled upon a blog called VoiceTalk: Perspectives on the Art of Singing by Daniel James Shigo, the founding editor of VOICEtalk, the official newsletter of the New York NATS.  In a recent post he listed some of the teachings of Alberto Randegger, a teacher in London at the end of the 19th Century, about mouth space.   Some of the highlights of his 1894 book The Method of Singing include:

The opening of the mouth must be only sufficiently wide to admit the thumb between the teeth.
In singing the first exercise upon the vowel A, open the mouth, and fix its position, before emitting the tone, and not simultaneously. Keep the same position firmly, but without stiffness, throughout the entire vale of the note.
Should there be any difficulty in keeping the mouth steady, it will be useful to place a small piece of wood or a small cork between the upper and lower teeth, either on the right or left side of the mouth.

It is always interesting to figure out where we get our ideas and how the articulation of these ideas have changed (or not!) with time and research.  To read the rest of the article, check out VoiceTalk here!

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