Jaw Swinging on Triads

This post will combine the Jaw Swinging exercise of the Intermediate Warm-up with the descending triads used in the Resonance Basics of the Basic Warm-up. The sound of the descending triad can be heard in this audio file. If you can do both those things, this post will be very simple, though the exercise is actually quite challenging.

So here’s the exercise, in a nutshell:

  1. Standing or sitting in alignment, grab your chin with thumb and index finger of both hands.
  2. Let go of any jaw tension and let the jaw drop away from your upper teeth, your lips come apart and your mouth open.
  3. Holding onto your jaw, begin by sounding the descending triad on either “ah”  [ɑ] or “uh” [ʌ].
  4. Now, as you do the next triad, gently shake your jaw while trying to maintain the open vowel sound.
  5. Continue to do the triads as you gently shake your jaw, opening both your range and your jaw. As you get higher, be careful to make sure that you don’t allow any jaw tension to creep in. If some does, stop and go down a semi-tone so that you always explore the Jaw Swing with ease, as if your jaw hinge had turned to Jello. Men should feel comfortable to work up into falsetto, and women can work up into their head-register.

You need to alternate your focus on release in the jaw, alignment (think “Forward and Up!”), and vocal ease as your explore your range both upwards and down into the depths of your chest resonators. Combine the awareness of jaw release with the sensation of vibrations in your chest, face and head.

This exercise can be used in place of a Jaw exercise in any of the warm-up series provided on this site.

Eric Armstrong is the voiceguy. Eric is a dialect, voice, speech and text coach based in Toronto, Canada, where he normally teaches full-time at York University’s Dept. of Theatre. Eric has been teaching voice for the actor full-time since 1994, and has taught in Canada and the US, at the University of Windsor, Brandeis University, Roosevelt University, Canada's National Voice Intensive and York University. He has worked for nationally and internationally recognized companies such as Crow’s Theatre, Volcano, SoulPepper, & Canadian Stage in Toronto, and The Court Theatre and Steppenwolf in Chicago. Eric holds a BFA from Concordia University (Montreal) in Theatre Performance, and an MFA from York University (Toronto) in Acting. His mentors were David Smukler (York, Canada’s National Voice Intensive) and Andrew Wade (Royal Shakespeare Company). He has also studied at the Drama Studio, London, and Il Stage Internazzionale di Commedia dell’Arte in Reggio Emilia, Italy. He’s a long time member of the Voice and Speech Trainers Association, where he has served on the board, as a conference planner, photo editor for the Voice and Speech Review, Founding Director of Technology and Internet Services, and has written numerous peer-reviewed articles, essays and reviews for the VASTA Newsletter, the VASTA Voice, and The Voice and Speech Review.