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Holding the Jaw, Part 1

One of the most powerful tools I’ve found for addressing jaw tension and teaching jaw-tongue muscle independence is holding the jaw.  I learned this tool from Thomas Blaylock, and he learned it from Joseph Kline.  It allows the voice to phonate without engaging the masseter or swallowing muscles.  In fact, there is a laundry list of skills you can learn while holding the jaw and doing vocal exercises.  It works.

To hold correctly, gently open the mouth so it feels open and relaxed but not hyper extended.  Then, using the index finger and thumb of one hand, keep the jaw in that place. From this position, you can teach vowel integrity, vowel modification, and efficient airflow.  At least, that’s what I’ve found with holding the jaw.

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SOVT for You and Me

There is an acronym whizzing through the ethers of the vocology cosmos causing some people to delight and others to raise their fists in the air.  Introducing: SOVT, which stands for semi-occluded vocal tract.  Voice nerds use it to describe vocal exercises, as in “SOVT exercises.”  You see it in scientific journals and hear it on the streets, depending who you hang out with.  It is an attempt to codify the language around voice, and for this reason I’m rather elated it exists.

This post stands as a tiny, little tutorial on SOVT and SOVT exercises.  Once you get the gist, you can identify any number of vocal exercises that employ its benefits.  I’ll list a few of the most common SOVT exercises, pin links to free resources that explain it, briefly describe a few of its incredible benefits, and list videos just in case you like your coffee pixilated.  (SOVT exercises are a sort of get-up-and-go drug, afterall.)

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