Using the Yawn reflex in singing
Have you ever noticed when you laugh or yawn that your voice works especially well? What I mean is you never feel like it is a struggle or much of an effort to produce a loud clear sound that projects when laughing,crying or yawning!
There are a few reasons for this:
1. Those reflexes are deeply connected to the lower body muscles. So the lower body is providing energy for optimal voice use in a flexible way.
2. The resonators (throat space) are open and are enabling the vocal muscles to work more freely. The larynx (voice box) is also in a lower position which enables an easier stretch of the vocal folds.
3. There is no inhibition! We learn that! Have you ever noticed how freely and easily a baby makes sound?
The great thing is we can use those reflexes to help our singing! In my breathing 101 article here I talked some about the laugh reflex. Now I want to talk about how to use the yawn reflex.
Pic: My 17 month old (at the time of the photo) son Owen showing off his awesome reflexes!
Using the Yawn
The idea is not using a full yawn feeling while singing but simply using the beginning of the yawn. That is the feeling where you are breathing in to yawn but not actually yawning. The slight yawn feeling allows the larynx to slightly lower and the soft palate to slightly lift. Both of these actions help increasing vocal resonance and freedom!
Try this: Hide the yawn: Imagine you are in front of your manager in a meeting but really need to yawn. You can do so with a closed mouth by inhaling through the nose.
Beginning of the yawn: With your mouth breathe as if you are about to yawn but don’t go for a full yawn feeling.
The idea is to achieve this slight yawn feeling everytime you inhale and maintaining it slightly as you sing!
This when used with great breathing and vowels will really open up your voice!