Singer’s Self-Improvement Series, April 2019: The Singer’s Tongue

I have to admit, when I first began a blog to complement my vocal coaching business, I never envisioned an entire post dedicated to the tongue. And yet, the tongue, or more accurately, what you do with your tongue while singing is super important. The tongue is also something to be mindful of when making decisions as they pertain to your singer’s nutrition (I’ll explain below).

So, here it is. A post about your tongue while singing and while eating well for the health of your singer’s body.

Let’s do this!

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Your Tongue: April Singing Goal

Tensing up your tongue while singing is the most common cause of cracking, missed pitches, poor resonance, and limited (or no) agility. Therefore, your singing goal this month is to learn to keep your tongue relaxed as you sing.

For guidance with this concept, including a warm-up to help you stretch your tongue and gain tongue independence and strength, watch this video:

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Your Tongue: April Nutrition Goal

So… maybe I’m stretching the tongue analogy (no pun intended) but my general message to all singers when it comes to nutrition is this:

Don’t let your tongue decide how you eat.

We often make eating choices based on what we believe will please our tongues (and, it could be argued, our minds and/or emotions). Obviously, liking the taste of your food matters, but it should only be one of many factors under consideration.

Food effects your sound, your stamina, your muscle growth, your sinuses, and more.

What I’m talking about is called Mindful Eating. There are many who give advice on this topic. My advice is going to be specifically geared toward singers. If you have an interest in where this post is going, I suggest you follow where that interest leads. Becoming a mindful eater in a variety of ways can only enhance the quality of your life, overall.

Here are the mindful eating tips I’m challenging you to embrace this month:
  1. Before you decide what to eat, close your eyes and try to tune in to what you think your body might crave. Not your tongue, or your emotions, but your body. You have to learn to recognize (and pay attention to) the difference.
  2. Consider what you ate at your last meal and/or what you will be eating at your next. How can what you choose to eat now help balance out the rest of your day? Have you had enough fruits and veggies, or protein, or water? If not, be sure to have those things now. Have you had a lot of fat, salt, or sugar already today? Back off on those, then, for this meal.
  3. Don’t put yourself second to your dining companions. You’re avoiding cheese but they want pizza. Are you going to stick to what’s right for you, or give in to their wants? You know what my advice is. Be true to yourself always, which includes dining choices. You and your goals matter. Act accordingly.
  4. Honestly assess the content of what you’re considering eating. Is it filled with dairy when you know that dairy adversely effects your voice? Is it high in sodium or sugar? We often eat something out of habit without remembering to consider how it will effect our bodies and our singing goals.
  5. Slow down! For most of us, overeating is a result of eating faster than our brains can register what’s been ingested. Overeating isn’t healthy in general, but is especially counterproductive before practice sessions, rehearsals, and performances.
  6. Focus on your meals. Distracted eating is another reason for overeating. Avoid eating in front of the TV or while working at your computer. Take time to appreciate your meal and chew it well (for better digestion).
  7. Find joy and pride in minding your nutrition. Adjust your mindset (if need be) toward eating well. It’s not an act of deprivation. It’s an act of self-love, and for singers, and sign of commitment to your craft. Eating mindfully is something to be proud of, especially for the very important cause of Being a Singer!

Think of your tongue as a child who always wants to eat another piece of candy. You’re the responsible parent who understands what that child really needs.

(Consult earlier Singer Self-Improvement Posts for more about good singer nutrition.)

Don’t let your tongue decide how you’re going to eat.

Good luck, and Happy Mindful Eating!