Exercises for articulation are some of the most enjoyable singing exercises. The first three exercises work the different articulators while maintaining a clear vowel tone. The other two exercises are called tongue twisters because the combinations of certain consonants are hard to manage when singing or speaking quickly. Many people have heard tongue twisters as children and laughed at how difficult and tangled the words can end up sounding. Practice these exercises slowly at first and then try to build up your speed.
While using your hands to hold your cheeks out, sing the following exercise. Make sure your tongue is touching the back of your bottom teeth.
Drop your hands and repeat the exercise with the feeling of puffing out the cheeks.
FIGURE 7-5. Hold your cheeks out for the first part of the exercise
FIGURE 7-6. Exercise 7-1
Keeping the oh tone as open as possible, sing “lo-do” using only your tongue to form the l and the d. Keep your jaw still, which will force your tongue to do the work.
Repeat the exercise on “na-ta.”
As you progress to “ya-ga,” keep the front of your tongue against the back of your bottom teeth and your jaw still. Feel the movement in the back of the tongue to form the “ya” and the “ga”.
FIGURE 7-7. Exercise 7-2
Alternate the syllables “be” and “de” and sing as evenly as possible.
While you are singing, massage your cheeks gently to prevent tension.
As indicated on the CD, drop your hands, change to the vowel ee, and continue the exercise.
FIGURE 7-8. Exercise 7-3
If you need to loosen your tongue at any time before or during these exercises, review the flexed tongue position included in the physical warmup section of Chapter 2. The tongue is a strong set of muscles and can easily get too tense when trying to sing the following tongue twisters.
Begin by speaking the phrase “red leather, yellow leather” very slowly.
Gradually build speed while keeping all the syllables even. As you get faster, begin to feel the accents on “red” and “yellow.”
Sing the exercise while keeping these accents.
FIGURE 7-9. Exercise 7-4
Speak the phrase “they threw three thick things,” slowly at first. Only go as fast as you can while maintaining accuracy with the words.
After you've practiced speaking the sentence, then try singing it. Notice the difference between the voiced th of “they” and the unvoiced th in the other words.
FIGURE 7-10. Exercise 7-5
There are many more phrases and sentences using famous tongue twisters that are fun to practice. You can even make up a melody of your own to go with words that are challenging to pronounce.