Your soft palate is the muscular section that is located at the back of the roof of your mouth.
Some people confuse the tonsils and the soft palate, but the tonsils are actually called palatine tonsils, which allude to their location on your soft palate on either side.
People also tend to confuse the tonsils with the uvula, known as the dangly part that can easily be seen at the back of your throat.
The uvula is also known as the palatine uvula. The palate that is close to the front of your mouth is referred to as hard since it has bone, while the soft palate is muscle.
Singers often benefit from a raised soft palate to help them avoid sounding nasally and bright, which can be unpleasant depending on the style of music. Singing with your soft palate lifted can also help you release a more resonant sound that can fill a room.
Many new singers tend to sing nervously with their mouths or throats barely open, restricting their sound potential and confidence at the same time. When this restriction is gone, they may also find easier access to a wider singing range!
The most common way to raise your soft palate is to mimic the movements and motion of a very big yawn.
Singers with a natural inclination to good mouth positioning often yawn way more frequently during warmups because it's like their mouth movement is trying to force a yawn to happen, so why not do the real thing?
Another cool way to raise your soft palate is to think of yourself internally screaming or smiling. Raise your eyes very high, flare your nostrils out, relax your jaw, lower your lip placement if you can, and let in a deep breath.
You should be able to feel the very cool air from your soft palate being raised. Note that this can cause some tension in your throat, but you just want to get a brief feel for what that open space will look like in an exaggerated way.
My favorite way to teach people how to raise their soft palate is to have them simulate the feeling of eating a spoonful of food that was way too hot, as they breathe in (or out) a big wide amount of air through the back of their throats to cool their mouth and the food down.
You will likely raise your eyebrows for this method as well, and try to imagine that the spoon of hot food in your mouth is causing you to drop your jaw to make a large vertical space.
Being overdramatic with raising the soft palate only works when you're warming your voice up or doing vocal cooldowns.
As I mentioned, too much lifting can cause tension further down in your throat, which will not do your singing voice any favors.
Many vocal teachers like to scream, "raise that soft palate" to their students so much that it's doing more harm than good.
Many singers have a natural inclination toward proper mouth placement; it's only necessary to really dive deep into practicing this if a singer has a tendency to sound nasal.
It's also a good idea to do some vocal warmups on the "ng" sound, which will require you to lower your soft palate and feel that nasality and ringing in your nose.
Hearing and feeling both sounds' extremes will help you find a proper balance between the two that will allow you to sing at your most optimal resonance.
When trying varying soft plate placements, getting a second opinion on your sound won't hurt, either!
Related Post: Vocal Scales And Warmups To Use
When singing high notes, especially for belting, you want to have a good amount of space in the back of your throat by raising your soft palate.
Attempting to hit high notes with a lowered soft palate may cause you to strain or feel hesitation in reaching for the note and cause you to go flat.
Many times when singers hit high notes, it's a climactic point of a song that should be sung loudly. A raised soft palate will help your resonance and tone.
For lower notes in your range, you also want to keep your tone confident and resonant for people to hear you clearly. A raised soft palate can be the difference between a very resonant and rich low note and a nasally and quiet low note.
Choir members highly benefit from having uniform, long vowels which require you to lift your soft palate. Resonance and synchronicity are very important for choirs, who often need to perform at different dynamics without the use of microphones.
But, it is important to remember that if your mouth is opened too widely, your throat will have tension.
Again, many choir directors overdo the whole dropped-jaw thing and cause singers to raise the soft palate so much that the throat restriction still restricts their voice. It's all about finding a good balance.
You will also need to find a good balance for operatic pieces, but the pressure isn't there as much to be in sync with other singers. For most operatic solo or small group works, you want to have long vowels with your soft palate raised at varying levels.
It can feel more natural to raise your soft palate the correct way in the style of opera since vertical vowels are the key to singing classical music.
For a more character-centric performance role, a classical singer may be encouraged to sing with a dropped soft palate to give a nasal performance.
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