Let's talk about the anatomy of your mouth. Take a look in the mirror. Your face is calm. Pay attention to the natural shape of your lips. Now try to activate them: shuffle them, put them into a tube, lift the upper lip, and open the upper teeth. Open your mouth. Look at the beauty of its form, at the tongue loosely lying in the lower jaw. Look at the root of the tongue, at the uvula, try to pick it up, freeing the throat. Try to yawn and feel the soft palate, because the hard palate begins from the upper teeth, and then the soft, movable palate and the uvula.
2. To activate the tongue. Move your tongue from side to side, forward, backward, to the right, to the left, perform circle turns in both directions, transform it into a "cog", a "tube". Stick your tongue out and quickly, quickly move it from one corner of the mouth to another.
3. Feel the tip of the tongue; it is active and hard as a hammer. (Use your imagination). Hit your mouth from the inside with the tip of the tongue, as if you (silently) say DA-DA-DA. It is advisable to imagine a "high palate" and big mouth.
Vigorously say: T-D, T-D, T-D.
4. With your "inner eye" inspect the oral cavity, the natural position of the tongue that lies quietly in the lower jaw; the tip touches the inner surface of the lower teeth at their very root. Over that is your " high palate." The root of the tongue stays calm; therefore the throat is relaxed and loose. "Listen" and remember those feelings. If you cannot feel everything at once, then take the mirror, look at yourself and then visualize the structure of the mouth, as if you're looking into a mirror. Vocal coaches and singers have noticed that when the tongue lies as a hummock, it pulls and strains the throat, breaking harmony while singing. Forcedly adjust the language is not necessary; it is helpful to use a mirror to fix the defect, feel it and look for a comfortable position and status. Your eyes and attention will be helpful.
5. To release the tongue and the throat do this task: take a fast, short and deep breath through the nose, then exhale completely through your mouth. Exhale sharply as if you "blow out" the air with the sound of "FOU" (the cheeks "fall").
To strengthen the muscles of the larynx, energetically say: K-G, K-G, K-G.
6. To activate the muscles of lips inflate your cheeks; exhale the air with a "bang" through closed lips (collected in a "bunch").
Vigorously say: P-B, P-B, P-B.
7. This exercise is aimed to free the lower jaw. Just open your mouth, move your jaw in both sides, feel the freedom of movement. Do it in front of a mirror until you feel a slight fatigue. The lower jaw should be loose, but not ajar. A heavy, loose lower jaw hitting the larynx makes the sound formless with an exaggerated articulation.
8. The jaw must not be constricted. Clatter with the front teeth, as if you have a fever. To avoid accidentally created new constrictions control yourself using a mirror while you diligently perform these actions. Your face (forehead, eyebrows, eyes) should be relaxed, without grimaces of pain, stress and effort. Get used to watch your face. Look, which of these tasks took you the biggest effort, which caused discomfort, stress or made you see a distorted face in the mirror. Please note that if in the work on breathing there is a precondition not to get tired, with the articulation organs the exercises should be repeated until a mild fatigue. These easy exercises develop and improve your articulation apparatus. Easy following the processes in the mirror gives the information for your memory and imagination.
9. Take any poem or any piece of prose that you know by heart. Read it for yourself in the mirror. Watch your face, mouth, and eyes while reading. Listen to the sound of your voice. The criteria are: aesthetic value, natural character of phonation, harmony, and a comfortable physical and psychical condition. There is a rule: before speaking out any phrase, sound, be sure to take your breath and project it to the roots of the upper teeth and the hard palate. All of the sounds have to be supported by breath; it is a condition for life, even for everyday speech.
10. Work on your skill to take breath before a new phrase. Reading a poem or passage, deliberately take a breath before each new phrase. Take it the way you can, but be sure to take it, get used to take it conscious, not to forget about it, because breathing is necessary for the sounding of the voice but also as a means of expression, so it should be taken not only in the beginning of a sentence, but also on punctuation. (This can be applied to literature as well as to lyrics). Make sure you breath is not noisy because any additional sounds interfere the perception of the text.
Remember two rules:
1) In the beginning of the phrase your lips should be slightly open, because otherwise you delay the beginning of the sound, produce overtones (OUAH, OUA, and OUO) and "smack the lips."
2) Close the mouth at the end of the sound, otherwise you "eat" it and apply the sound "M" at the end of a phrase.
11. Make sure what pronunciation, loud or quiet, requires more breathing. I am convinced that you will immediately realize that the loud pronunciation needs more air (a thorough inhalation), and the quiet one will require a smaller volume of respiration, but a greater concentration, activity and control over the breath. A quiet speech should also be heard your future audience.
12. Read a poem or prose, exaggerating the text. It is a good vocal tract gymnastics.
Once the exaggerating removed, the activity remains. An exaggerated pronunciation will sound clear, bright in a class, in a room, but an exaggerated pronunciation should not cause strain in the jaw, throat, tongue, and lips. You should always remember that the consonants should be spoken actively, instantly, accurately and easily. They do not have to break the flow of vowels, which transform into one another while singing. Weighting and overexaggerating of consonants makes your vocal tract constrict. The recommendation to "tenfold" the pronunciation of consonants, especially in singing, appears to be very doubtful.
13. To work out the manner of pronouncing vowels in a steady flow and of a clear, instant pronunciation of consonants on that thread of sound, you should read (stretch) a poem only on vowels:
A lonely sail is flashing white
æ - o - i æ i æ i - ωai
Listen to this smooth, beautiful flow of vowels. Then "paste" into it some fast, distinct and light consonants without disturbing smoothness and beauty of the flow of vowels. Make sure that the word stays close (on the teeth), the larynx free, the breathing - active. The same exercise is to be done also before singing, with literary text, and then with the music. Singing on some vowels gives good cantilena.
14. Patters are also very good for training. At first they should be read slowly, gradually quicker as a successful improvement. Follow the rhythm of pronunciation. Don't forget about rhythm and diction.
a) What noise annoys an oyster most?
A noisy noise annoys an oyster most.
b) There's a sandwich on the sand which was sent by a sane witch..
c) She slits the sheet she sits on.
d) Miss Smith's fish-sauce shop seldom sells shellfish.
e) Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
A peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked.
If Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers,
Where's the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?
f) I'm not the fig plucker,
nor the fig pluckers' son,
but I'll pluck figs
Till the fig plucker comes.
g) The king would sing, about a ring that would go ding.
15. A weak pronunciation leads to a downtempo, especially in singing.
16. If you cannot pronounce some sounds, take any dictionary, open it on the letter, which is the most difficult to pronounce and slowly read all the words in a row, listening to the sound that is hard for you. If you concisely pronounce the challenging sound several times, the articulation changes for the better. You can also use a tape recorder. Dictionary relieves us from inventing words with the challenging sound (letter).
17. The development of the muscles of pharynx, tongue, and identification of resonant properties of your body is integral to develop the acoustic and tonal voice properties. Pronounce a silent Α-Æ-O, trying to open wider the pharyngeal cavity but not the mouth. Repeat it 10 times.
After citing all these tips and exercises let's sum it up:
a) Training, conscious control, attention are integral in the work on the development of the articulatory apparatus.
b) It is important to work with a mirror.
c) During the work on "active freedom" you should be very demanding to yourself, not to miss any constrictions like a "crooked mouth", a "frown" or "goggle eyes."
d) When training the articulatory tract, you should do numerous repetitions of awkward movements until you have the feeling of comfort. Do not be afraid of a muscle fatigue, but avoid new constrictions.
d) It is important and useful to listen to the recordings of good performers, as the auditory perception improves muscular sensations.
Great teachers vocals always paid attention to the fact that the vowels are the carriers" of the vocal sound, they take up almost the entire duration of the pronounced sound. "Consonants are as short as possible and spoken very clearly." Herein lies one of the secrets of cantilena. "Vowels are like a shell clothing the sound of the singer, so the voice training begins with the formation of vocal vowels. All the major vocal qualities of the voice are worked out with these exercises. The artistic value of the singing voice depends on a correct vocal formation of the vowels." (S. Yudin).