Shaping and Singing Combination Consonants

Sometimes two consonants are combined to make a specific sound. Knowing how to articulate the sound makes it much easier to sing. The combinations of sounds listed in the table below are the few sounds that are made by closing the space in the front of your mouth when you’re singing.

They require special attention in practicing to be able to make the sound without totally closing down the space in the back of your mouth and changing the tone.

Shaping combination consonants

For the consonant pairs in the following table, your

  • Tongue’s tip moves toward the alveolar ridge and the sides of your tongue touch the upper side teeth and gums at the side at the same time. You feel air blowing between the tip of your tongue and the gums. The tip of the tongue touches the alveolar ridge momentarily at the beginning of the CH and J sounds.

  • Lips should protrude slightly forward. The protrusion is slight and the movement happens quickly. When your lips move for the ZH and J, you use your voice. The SH and CH are unvoiced.

The position of the tongue is important. The SH requires you to blow air between your teeth and tongue, whereas you make the CH by momentarily stopping the flow of air, by putting the tongue’s tip on the alveolar ridge and then blowing air.

Listen to a variety of singers and note the difference between CH and Y. You make Y by moving the back of the tongue, and you make CH with the tip of the tongue.

Practicing SH, ZH, J, and CH
SHZHJCH
show visual jump chump
plush pleasure June choose
shop measure age chance

The consonant G can be pronounced two ways, as in the words go and George. Here the pronunciation of the consonant G in the word go, the consonant J is used to describe the pronunciation for the consonant G in George.

ST and SH are often mistakenly interchanged. An example is the word street — it shouldn’t be shtreet. Practice sh-t and s-t so you can get it just right in your song and when you give your new friends your street address.

Singing combination consonants

Sing through the sentences in the illustration below, following the words under each note. Sing through each one until you feel the fluid movement from consonant to vowel. Doing so enhances your ability to keep your back space open as you momentarily close the space in front.

Sing through the consonants in the illustration with a legato (smooth and connected) line, and try not to anticipate the next consonant. Allow yourself time to extend the vowel before jumping to the next syllable and consonant. Anticipating the next consonant means closing down the space in your mouth too early, and that affects the shape and sound of the vowel you’re currently singing.

Notice that you have to use your voice to sing through the ZH, but the SH is unvoiced. You’ll feel the difference, because the SH is just flowing air, whereas the ZH requires you to make sound with your voice and move air.

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