"The Mask"

"The Mask" (Italian m'aschera [m 'asker]) is a concept linked to the singer's voice resonating in the nasal and paranasal cavities, ie in the upper part of the face, which is usually covered by the mask during parades, masquerades.

To feel your "mask" with the muscles, to get a good "vocal yawn" and to learn about the processes occurring while singing, do some simple exercises.

1. Open your mouth, hold it in this position, listen to natural freedom of your mouth, tongue, and throat. See all organs with your "inner eye". Close your lips, but not tightly, and leaving the throat loose, grunt in a comfortable tone, feeling the tickle on the upper lip, teeth and nasal bridge. If you do not feel the tingling, vibration, so you have constricted your throat, free it. Direct your grunt to the teeth. Be sure to take a good breath. The area where you feel the tickling is the "mask" position. Project the sound forward through the area. Remember a steamship or a factory whistle, its liberty, its length and, at the same time, its strength and fullness.

2. You "see" in front of you a fragrant flower (a rose) and sniff it. Imagination adds the "flavour" of the flower. The place (on the palate, behind the eyes, in the head, in the skull - call it whatever you like), where flavour comes through, the place that it "fills", and the area that it is "pushing" should be felt and remembered! Remember "the emergence of a new internal volume."

Having repeated this exercise, you will understand and remember this feeling, the condition that gives an idea of the right "vocal yawn", the " high vocal cupola", and the high singing position. Such a condition should occur simultaneously with the breath before producing the sound.

Breath is the lower support, the cupola is the top support, and there you have to send your sound, your breathing.

3. There is a big, juicy, beautiful apple in front of you that you intend to bite into. Imagine, feel the upper jaw and palate lift and extend, with the desire to bite this delicious apple. (You never can bite fruits with your lower jaw!). Try to find these feelings, to find some natural character and freedom of them. Highly raised palate is the singing cupola.

4. You have a hot potato in your mouth that will burn your palate, but you want to cool it up without spitting it out. You pick up a bit of fresh air to cool the palate, burnt by the potato.

Use your imagination, try to fins the sensations, the feeling of coolness in your high palate, and remember them!

5. Imagine your dog in hot weather. She runs, she's hot, her tongue hanging out for thermoregulation. She is breathing very quickly, cooling the mouth and the entire body.

Of course, you do not have to stick your tongue, but imagine the dog and try to get some frequently-often to cool sky. You will immediately feel how high your palate is, what a wonderful vocal cupola you have (larynx should stay low, loose, wide).

6. Chatter your teeth frequently. Your attention should be fixed on the front teeth, on the looseness of your jaw. Of course, you cannot chatter with teeth if your jaws are clenched. We have already mentioned an exercise like this aimed to work on the looseness of the jaws. But now try to feel your upper front teeth, their roots, i.e. the place from where the hard palate or the "cupola" begins. "Watch" how it is active and high! To sense and to see it, chatter with your teeth again, and listen to your feelings.

7. Your lips are closed tightly. Mouth is calm. Inspect the high palate and your loosely lying tongue with your inner eye, the tip of it touching the roots of the lower teeth. The root of the tongue stays calm. Your larynx is loose, lowered, and wide like a neck of a jug.

Switch your attention to the roots of the upper teeth and say a soundless "Y" into the hard palate without changing the loose positions of every organ in your mouth. The larynx should remain absolutely calm, wide, and low. You have to catch the sensation of cavities and volumes expanding, of "rise" of the hard palate, and of lowering the wide larynx.

8. Your mouth and pharynx are calm. You "feel like" yawning, but not like the respectable people do that nobody notices, a yawn with your mouth closed.

Use your imagination to feel this desire to yawn. Your attention should be focused on the hard palate, the upper cupola and the broad, free and lowered larynx. The yawn should happen as follows: the upper jaw and the palate "rise" and the larynx gets loose and free. This is an expanding and a release "to tears" (as happens in the real life, when we yawn "to tears"!). Hear how active soft palate is during a yawn.

Some of these exercises, one or two, will surely help you to find vocal sensation of the yawn, the cupola, to instantly adjust them, simultaneously with breath taking, and the next moment to "attack breathing" into a high position and to form a beautiful sound (the rebirth of an airwave into a sound.)

Our bodies and organs do not immediately perceive this complex coordination of small muscle movements, efforts, and therefore they need help: attention, patience, imagination, and simple exercises.