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Beginner Singing Technique - Addressing Nasality/Soft Palate

Updated: 2 days ago

nasality at milwaukee singing lessons with the soft palate

Nasality can be a tricky thing to deal with. Some people like it and some hate it. Its hard to feel and even harder to control. Many of the methods can be gross or impossible for some people. So there are many methods for dealing with nasality in different amounts. The goal, as always, is control, so rather than tell you nasality is bad I am just going to say that you should learn to control it and use it when you want to instead of always.

First, what nasality is. Your nose is connected to the back of your mouth. This is why when you're sick you feel like you can "swallow your snot." When the air begins to come out of your lungs you can't really tell it not to fill up every open space. Air is going to go where it goes. Instead, there is a small area on the back of the roof of your mouth called your soft palate. When the soft palate lifts, your nose usually gets plugged or blocked from the inside. The following is a list of approaches to begin learning to control nasality. Even if you like the sound of it, I recommend learning this anyway.

  1. My favorite way of gaining control of nasality is to plug your nose. Once your nose is plugged, just try speaking. Your voice will sound a little silly, but with a few tries you should be able to get your voice to sound normal even with your nose plugged. "n's" "m's" and "ng's" will still be nasal since you say those with your nose, but everything else should be normal sounding. If you do this, you've plugged your nose from the inside of your mouth and if you imitate this feeling without your nose plugged you should be able to control the nasality.

  2. Another common way of gaining control of nasality is to yawn while singing. When you breathe in like you are getting ready to yawn, you may feel the back of your mouth open up. You can even look in a mirror and watch the soft palate rise. If you keep that yawny feeling, you'll have control over that sound. The downside of this strategy is that your throat (larynx) lowers when you try to yawn. You won't want to get too used to it dropping a lot as you'll sound funny with it really lowered.

  3. Another method I've found success with is "feeling like you're about to sneeze." When you're about to blow your nose or sneeze but before the air begins to come out of your nose, you'll feel a closure and pressure build up behind your nose. If you are able to imitate this feeling without your tongue lifting to push on the roof of the back of your mouth, usually it means your soft palate is lifted. I recommend looking in a mirror to check, but try singing like that and see how it works for you.

  4. A short and sweet method is to feel like you have an egg or a ping pong ball in the back of your mouth. That's it.

  5. If you are willing, poke your soft palate with your thumb. Oftentimes you can feel the lingering fingerprint after you poke it. Mapping out the spot on the inside of your mouth will sometimes help you find and control the muscle consciously.

  6. Finally, Sing the phrase "sing-ah" and several notes. When you say the "ng" sound your tongue lifts in the back to touch the soft palate. When you pop open to the "ah" your soft palate will usually bounce up. Singing this pattern will often help you get used to the feeling of lifting the soft palate.

While not comprehensive, this is a good starting place for gaining control of nasality. None of these working for you? Work with a teacher at by clicking this link or leave a comment and I can try to help you out.

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