To achieve the low placement of American English, you have to speak with a relaxed body and face. This video helps you release tension in the jaw.
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In this American English pronunciation video, we’re going to go over jaw relaxation.
Hello and Welcome to Rachel’s English. Today, we’re going to talk about ways to relax the jaw.
>> Yeah, that looked painful!
>> Yeah. That was painful.
Many of our students have a tendency to hold a bunch of tension in the jaw, whether as a habit from their native language, or because they are focusing on learning a bunch of new sounds. In American English, we want a relaxed face and throat, and body if possible. But today, we’re going to focus on relaxing the jaw. Here are a few exercises you can use before you practice or in the middle of your practice when you feel tension creeping in.
First off, you may have heard from teachers in the past that you need to drop your jaw more. More Jaw Drop!! This instruction can create tension as you work on vowel and diphthong sounds that need a bunch of space – like AH, AW, and AI, and others. Instead of thinking about using your muscles to hold the jaw open, which can add tension to the face, think of releasing the jaw. Let the jaw drop down using gravity, rather than muscle.
If you put your fingers just under your ears and open and close your mouth, you’ll feel movement of the jaw bone, we’ll call this spot the “jaw hinge”. Think of releasing your jaw from back here, rather than forcing the chin down. By doing this, we lose the tension that can affect the sound, and we have a fuller more open sound. We’ll come back to the hinge. But first, let’s start some jaw relaxation exercises.
Let’s start by just easily massaging the jaw with your fingertips. As you begin freeing the jaw, you may start to yawn more – awesome! Keep yawning! It’s a great stretch and provides you with wonderful deep breaths that encourage support. When you yawn, make sure you yawn both vertically and horizontally. Really get a great stretch for the jaw, and the lips actually for that one.
Now, using the heel of your hand, drag the hand down the jaw bone on the face towards your chin, really thinking about releasing that jaw hinge and letting the face muscles relax.
>> I look silly. But it is relaxing.
>> Totally ok to look silly. It’s great, actually.
>> Oh, that feels so good.
Now, let’s go back to that hinge we spoke about earlier, back here. Allow your newly relaxed jaw to release down for a moment and feel that space that opens up under your ear as the hinge releases down. This is a great pressure point on our face, by pressing in to it we can release the jaw even more. Now, this can feel quite painful, so don’t hurt yourself, but it will feel great when you let go!
Now, take your chin between thumb and index finger and move the jaw up and down.
>> Whoa. Oh, that’s hard.
>> Don’t hurt yourself on this one, either.
>> You gotta watch your tongue!
>> It can be very difficult! Yeah, make sure your tongue’s not in the way.
Really let your hand control your jaw, you’ll feel the jaw kind of want to fight back a little bit. See if you can relax it, and just let your hand be in control.
>> Yeah, my jaw definitely does not want to give up control.
>> Yeah. So, lots, lots to work on.
Now, if you haven’t felt silly already, prepare to. And if you’re really relaxed, prepare to let a little saliva fly around. Now, clasp your hands together and shake your body and face, keeping that jaw released.
>> I don’t know if I’m willing to do that on camera.
>> Come on Rachel.
>> Ok. Do it again?
Let’s use this newly released jaw a bit and practice on some vowel sounds, some vowel sounds that use some jaw drop. So AH and AW. Now, let’s go from OO, which has a tight lip rounding here, OO, and move into AW
Now, let’s move from OO into AH: OO-AH, OO-AW
You can practice going back and forth, and this may help you hear the difference between those two sounds.
All right! Hopefully your jaw feels more relaxed. Remember to do this whenever you feel tension creep in as you practice and drill, and when you’re having trouble finding the difference between vowel sounds. It may just be that you want more space – and the best way to create space – is to release that jaw!
This video is part of a series on relaxation and placement. If you liked this video, check out the first one on the Path of the Voice, or the next one on Tongue Exercises and Tongue Relaxation. If you have any questions, feel free to write a comment below.
That’s it, and thanks so much for using Rachel’s English.