Working with Consonants:
As a general rule, quality singing requires an emphasis on vowels and a de-emphasis of consonants (there is one exception, which I’ll get into later). As a starting point, understand that for flow, richness, and agility your overall goal is to get off of your consonants and emphasize your vowels. Revisit week three’s lesson if you need a refresher on which vowels to emphasize.
I’ll show you ways to carry this out in section two, but first let’s talk more specifically about consonants.
M, N, NG, V: Consonants like V, M and N, and the sound NG can be created and held while singing a vowel behind them. Using them this way would be an artistic choice based on context and taste. This means the flow of vowels doesn’t need to be interrupted by singing them, as long as your throat remains open and relaxed.
P, B, T, D: These consonants are unsustainable, meaning they can’t be held out. They require a brief stoppage of airflow. To sing smoothly, these all need to be de-emphasized.
S (and soft C): S’s are S’s. You can’t stop them from sounding S-like. Just sing them and quickly get a way from them. And please, if there is an S at the end of a word, don’t hold onto it. That creates an unpleasant experience for the listener. Just saying…
L, W, R, Y: These consonants don’t have to stop airflow but can cause the throat and mouth to tense or close up. A singer has to learn to keep these sounds open and vowel-focused. For example, an L can be sung moving only the tongue. W, R, and Y can all be sung accompanied by a short, discreet vowel sound at the very beginning of the consonant.
- For W it might be an OOH. The word why becomes Ooh-wah-ee
- For R it might be an UH. The word ride becomes uh-rah-ee-d
- For Y it’s an EE. Young becomes Ee-yuh-ng
Obviously, you don’t want the started vowel to be noticeable. Experiment with these yourself.
K, G (hard), C (hard): These consonants happen in the throat and stop airflow. When singing these, it is a matter of de-emphasis (and vowel-focus). Don’t give these consonants too much power or significance in your pronunciations.
Multi-Consonant Sounds: This refers to words that begin, end, or otherwise contain consonant groupings. Tempted, Listening, Dreamt, Broken. These consonant combinations are easy to get tripped up by. The key, again, is de-emphasis. Do this by quickly getting off of the sounds, or in the case of a word ending in one of these groupings, wait until the very last moment to pronounce it.
The one situation where I generally suggest an emphasis on consonants:
Quick, rhythmic phrases require a quick, rhythmic emphasis of consonants. You still need to get right off of them and have solid, open vowel sounds. But without emphasis in this case, your listener may not understand what you’re singing, not to mention, you’ll lose the rhythmic quality of the music.
Lesson 6 Videos:
Lesson 6 Workout:
- Warm up your body. Neck, shoulders, back, and mind should all be relaxed before you start.
- Ya Ya Warm-up: Tongue extended. Cheeks and upper lip relaxed. Tongue should pulse forward and back but no jaw movement.
- We Love You: You’ve done this one before when we focused on vowels. This time, while still keeping your vowels nice and open, focus on a better use of your consonants.
- We Love You, Var 1:
- We Love You, Var 2:
- Baby, Var 1: