Muscle tension is the overuse of neck and throat muscles while singing. This is a factor for any singer who is not actively studying voice with a qualified voice teacher. Your doctor will spend some time discussing this with you during both your initial evaluation and your follow up visits, to ensure you are comfortable with these ideas.
Your tongue is larger than you might realize. When you stick out your tongue, you are only seeing half of your tongue. The back half is attached to the deeper structures in your neck and throat. Many singers, over the course of a competitive career, pull their tongue back to amplify their sound.
Over time, this becomes habit so that you may use tongue tension regularly. Other muscles can also begin to engage, including your neck musculature. Tongue and neck tension may result in uncomfortable or painful singing.
This is a difficult area to combat because tightening the jaw gives a feeling of control. Relaxing your jaw will create more room in the back of your throat and thus, give your sound a larger chamber through which it can resonate.
If breath support is not adequate or well-controlled, singers may engage accessory (non-vocal) muscles in the neck. This added tension may increase the feeling of stability of pitch. However, it creates additional force on the vocal cords and may result in injury, such as a vocal hemorrhage or nodule formation. Additionally, singing with neck muscles engaged is painful over time. Though releasing neck tension may make a singer feel less secure in pitch stability, it is actually a far healthier way to sing.
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