How To End Jaw Tension For Singing
There is a muscle that connects our cheek to our lower jaw which is called the masseter muscle. When we open our mouths wide the masseter wants to engage to help us bite down on a big piece of food. The problem is, when we open our mouths wide to sing, this muscle wants to get involved. We end up fighting with this muscle by trying to keep our mouth open while the muscle is trying to contract.
We need to train our bodies to let go of that muscle while we sing. To do this we are going to push in on the origination’ of the muscle (where the muscle starts). We find this by running our fingers along our cheek bone to underneath our eye. Then we travel down to where we feel a soft pocket.
On both sides, use your fingers to push in where you feel those soft pockets, and as you press in, drop your jaw. This may feel a little tender which is completely normal. It often feels like this because of tension, and you are trying to relax and release – much like a sports massage.
While you are pressing in on the masseter muscle with your jaw dropped, try vocalizing a sustained pitch on a ‘Ah’ vowel. Slowly work up and down your range on sustained pitches then simple arpeggio patterns. Or, try singing simple phrases or a simple song in this position. You could even try singing something from your repertoire to see if you feel a difference.
As with all vocal exercises, if you feel pain, stop and consult a knowledgeable vocal coach.