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Treating Nasal singing

Recently I sent in the follow request for help:

> A high school director and friend asked me for help in solving a problem. In
> his words: our HS boys are still plagued by a strain of nasality. I had
> offered some help during an All-State choir rehearsal, and plan to give some
> other suggestions.
> Would you mind sharing your ideas on the problem and solutions/vocalizations
> that you have found successful?

Here are the responses I received:

> Warmups are crucial to getting boys to get rid of their "pop-style"
> nasality. Address the following problems in this order:
> 1) Vertical space in mouth. Get the boys to think of their voice as
> a musical instrument, like a trumpet. When they open their mouth
> like a yawn or as if they were eating a bigmac, their soft palatte is
> instantly up and gets rid of some of that nasal sound. Use lots of
> different warmups to achieve this goal.
> 2) Get their sound in front of their bottom lip. If our soft palatte is
> up, then they should try to feel their sound vibrating on their lower
> lip. Start your warmups with men on a humm or buzzing lips
> works great if they can do it.
> 3) Bring their tongue forward and down. A lot of boys have what i
> call a "pendulum" curve to their tongue which makes their sound
> more nasal. Using a five-note ascending or descending scale on
> any open syllable, have them bring their tongue literally out of their
> mouth so they can see each other. This gets their tongue to relax
> eventually and gets rid of any curve on their tongue. This is also a
> silly way to get started and have a fun but productive rehearsal.
> The best thing to remember with boys is that they are very
> competitive. This is both good and bad. Good for the fact that
> they will try just about anything, but you just don't want them to
> overdo a few things which creates tension.


> Try having the students pinch their nose closed while singing vowels...have
> them experiment in moving the placement so that there is no nasal resonance
> and then so that there is the 'plugged nose' sound.


> I have had occasional success with having the student vocalize on an "ng"
> sound, like the one at the end of the word "song". This often exaggerates
> the problem, which can be the result of a low palate. Then I have him change
> on a sustained note from "ng" to "ah" with various instructions, metaphors
> and images to get him to lift past his accustommed way of singing. This
> takes frequent reminders and reinforcement as well as patience on everyone's
> part.


Thanks for your help,

Doug Bachorik, Jr.
Doug & Ruth Bachorik
missionaries to the Philippines
(407) 493-3026
531 W. Alcott Ave.
Fergus Falls, MN 56537

on October 21, 2007 10:00pm
Have them sing with their nose pinched shut, and do not ask for M or N or NG. Tell them the air and sound needs to exit entirely through the mouth, even with the nose released. The nose should NEVER "buzz" as if that were somehow "placement" or "projection". It should be "dead" when they pinch their noses.