Singing For Dummies
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The irritating nasal sound, or nasality, in some singing voices is a result of a soft palate which is not lifted properly. Your soft palate is the soft tissue on the roof of your mouth. A soft palate that lifts helps create the ringing sound that you want. If the soft palate doesn’t lift, the sound is nasal. Exercise your soft palate so that it lifts on command and you avoid that nasal sound.

To check for a nasal sound, sing part of your favorite song and hold your nose. If you have a balanced, resonant sound, your sound won’t change and you can successfully sing while holding your nose. If the sound does change, you likely have a nasal sound.

Seeing your soft palate in action helps you visualize it working correctly. But before you watch it work, you need to find out where it is in your mouth.

Run your tongue along the back of your front teeth and then along the roof of your mouth. You can feel a ridge right after your gums, then the hardness of the hard palate, and then the soft tissue at the back. That soft tissue is your soft palate.

To see your soft palate move, follow these steps:

  1. Shine a flashlight in your mouth while looking in the mirror.

  2. Yawn so that you can see the soft palate lift.

  3. Say “Hung” or “Ugh” to see the tongue and soft palate touch.

If you aren’t sure what your soft palate feels like when it moves, then cut some zzzzz’s and snore — just don’t try this as an excuse for your nightly snoring habit. Snoring helps you feel your soft palate moving.

To feel the soft palate, pretend that you’re snoring in your sleep. Snore with your mouth open and take in air through your nose. If this only gets your nose quivering, put your fingers on your nose and close off your nostrils. When you close your nostrils, try snoring again by breathing through your mouth. That quivering you feel is your soft palate moving.

Bear in mind how it felt and looked to have your soft palate lift and to have your tongue touch your soft palate. These movements, when coordinated, keep your sound from being too nasal.

About This Article

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Pamelia S. Phillips is a professional singer with over 35 years of teaching experience. She has designed curriculum for high school students, college BFA programs, and professional training programs, helping thousands of singers refine their singing technique.

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