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Relaxing - Jaw Tension

jaw tension

Jaw tension can be a huge problem for some singers. It can even cause a problem called TMJ syndrome that results in pain, lockjaw, and more in your jaw. If this effects you, I heavily suggest you begin working on releasing this tension as soon as possible. First of all, your jaw works as a hinge. It should open from the joint of your jaw in a circular motion. It doesn't move all that much of course, but if your jaw drops straight down that's an issue. If the jaw becomes tense it can pull on tendons attached to it resulting in your throat being squeezed shut or the resonating chambers of your mouth being modified negatively. Here's how to identify and then fix jaw tension.

How to Identify Jaw Tension - The easiest way to identify jaw tension is to place two fingers slightly in front of your ear on your cheek. Clench your teeth and you should feel a muscle flex. If you don't feel it, move your fingers around until you do. This is where the jaw joint is. Try singing with your fingers here, if you notice that same flex, you've got tension.

Another way to identify tension is to do what I call the "home alone" face. You put your hands on your cheeks. Don't use your hands to move your jaw, but just to feel. If your jaw tries to move forward or back, that's an issue as it should move in portion of a circle.

How to Eliminate Jaw Tension - The easiest way for me and most of my students is to place your pinky along your jawline almost as if you're pointing at your ear. Then rest, but don't push, the back of your hand against your face. This is a great signal to the brain to use your jaw correctly (since moving it incorrectly would move your entire arm) and it should relax on its own.

Another way is to simply massage out the joint of your jaw. Use fingers or even knuckles to massage the joint you felt when clenching your teeth. You can even sing while massaging this to ensure it stays relaxed.

A third way to help ease jaw tension is what I like to call "idiot jaw." Think of a person with their mouth just hanging open for flies to mosey on in. You could also imagine a person sleeping with their jaw hanging open. This is usually a very relaxed opening of the mouth, since the jaw is hanging rather than being forced open. This is how you want your jaw to open when singing.

Hopefully one of these methods helps you and you are able to eliminate any jaw tension. As with all of the different tension areas, this is a long term commitment, not a short and easy fix. Relaxing is difficult and it must be trained as a habit. If you need additional help, sign up for singing lessons here or leave a comment and I'll do my best to assist you!

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