Exercises

Exercise 1 - Watching the stars

Exercise to release the chin and position it correctly
The children begin the exercise standing up; first they lift their heads up, opening their mouths like in a gasp of surprise. If completely released, the chin should drop down of its own accord D125. Make sure that the chin movement and its subsequent position is not purely downward but also backward slightly(a sort of an arched tilting movement) P37. By checking with their tongues, the children make sure that their jaws are relaxed, and their molars do not touch each other D126. The children then try to return their heads to the normal position, while keeping the chin relaxed and in the same position. If they succeed, they achieve the approximate - though slightly exaggerated - chin position needed for singing the vowel ŌO as well as for all other vowels. If the chin is fixed in the back position, we instead have to activate the upper part of the face. The resulting feeling should be that instead of the chin, the upper part of face from the mouth corners up is working. To perform this exercise well, an activation of the upper part of the face must follow after lowering the head down to its normal position. It is achieved by an expression of a joyful surprise and wonder with a slight opening of the mouth - sensorily upwards. The movement should not be only "popped-up" as if opening the top of a fairy tale treasure box but should be an overall feeling of "lifting" the entire upper half of the face, as if lifting the lid of a pot. It is very important to check that the chin does not leave its "back" position. Following is an example showing the entire exercise. D04. Make the children realise and internalise the sensation of the chin slightly pushed backward so that they are able to achieve the same chin position when the head is in its normal position. You should realise that the chin must not "ram" into the neck. D127 It is important to check that the head is held upright to allow for the tilting movement down and backward (by sufficiently upright I mean the head in the singing position).
To begin with, you may gently lead the tilting movement of the chin with your hand. D128
Subsequently children may try pulling their chins downward on their own. D129

Story for younger children:
Imagine you are observing a summer night sky full of stars. Your head is tilted back and then you open your mouth in a sudden gasp of surprise because you notice a splendid star which is much bigger and brighter than the others. Note that when you open your mouth, your chin freely drops down. However, it is rude to have your mouth open like this, so you try to close it. With your head still tilted back, it is more comfortable to keep your chin in the low position, so you just close your lips. Try now to be aware of and memorise the sensation you perceive. Your chin is in a downward and slightly backward position, your lips partially or completely closed. You can check with the tip of your tongue that your molars are slightly apart even when your lips are closed. Now try to return your head back to its normal position while maintaining your chin in the backward position. Suddenly a comet flies above the horizon and your mouth (with your chin still in the back position) opens in joyful awe. If the chin doesn't return to the forward position you can try to feel as if this movement happened instead in the upper part of the face - as if the chin stood still and the entire upper half of the head rose up with a movement similar to that of a mother lifting the lid above a pot. D130 With younger students we can support the correct movement with our hand and prompt the children to lead their chin downwards with their own hand later.

It is important that the children are completely relaxed and that the chin movement is spontaneous.

Make sure that the children do not remain in the position with their heads tilted back for too long, as this position necessarily generates inadequate pressure on the larynx, particularly with the mouth closed. For the same reason children should not try speaking in this position.

A misplacement of the tongue may be another problem when singing the vowel ŌO. Either the tip abandons its position behind the lower front teeth, or the tongue gets in different upright positions in the mouth. Even though it is hard to see it due to the closed lips, the sound will reveal the mistake easily.


Exercise 2 - Owl’s hoot

Exercise to practice vowel ŌO (cupola sensation)
Children take turns in imitating an owl's hoot following the teacher. The basic module consists of two pairs of hoots: HOO- HŌO, the first one being shorter and quieter, the second one longer and louder D133.
The children can gradually extend the second hoot and start singing a sort of owl's aria D134.

Story for younger children:
Imagine being young owls living with your mother in the forest. Mum teaches you how to hoot properly, and you even learn owls' songs. When hooting, try to imitate your mum closely D135, When singing the songs you can use your imagination D136.
If you are not very successful at hooting, try to relax your jaw and move your chin backwards slightly, just as you practiced in the exercise 1) Watching the stars in Lesson 5

It is necessary to make sure that the children's jaws are sufficiently relaxed and their chins are not moving forward. During the louder and longer second hoot, the mouth should open more, and the chin should retract even further back. Although you cannot see the tongue, its correct position can be easily told by the resulting sound of the hoot.

As for the position of the lips, you must be aware that here, too, you must artificially modify, what would normally be the spoken vowel ŌO.
When articulating the spoken ŌO, the jaws and lips are very close together. If we would use the same position for singing, the voice could barely get out of the mouth D137. The sung OO therefore requires a relatively larger distance between the lips, which becomes even larger with the rising pitch of the tone (the lips move apart spontaneously with a more relaxed jaw) D138.
The lips should be pouted as explained in the Singing form of the mouth - "Relaxed carp" in Lesson 4. A "dropped" lip is a frequent mistake which makes the lip act as a muffler on the upper teeth F24 D139. Your lips will assume the correct position of their own accord if you recall the exercises 15) Relaxed carp or 16) Ripe cherry in Lesson 4. If the children still fail to keep the upper lip in the correct position, you may help them with a grape for the start F25. Mind, though, the grape should support only the lip, not the upper teeth. And let me stress once again that you must still check for the necessary jaw relaxation. D05


Exercise 3 - Practicing the vowel ŌO in head tone

Start with an open humming in head tone and eventually transform it into the vowel ŌO. Try to explain to the children that they should maintain the sensation of the tone streaming out of their forehead even when changing the humming into the vowel ŌO. To put it simply, both the humming and the vowel ŌO must feel as if they flow through the same path. In reality this means that when changing humming into the vowel, the soft palate must not form the palatopharyngeal closure, otherwise the vowel ŌO „exits" through the mouth and the head ceases to resonate.
Practice the melody according to the enclosed notation, humming the first tone, changing to the vowel ŌO on the second tone and finishing the exercise singing the vowel ŌO. No.5 D140a D140b


In this exercise, you can try using the "tongue grape" trick. I recommend pushing the grape with the tongue gently to the arch of the palate when singing the vowel ŌO. This trick will make you arch your soft palate more and relax your jaw.