Mmm Mmm Good!
Singers! MMMing (as opposed to Humming - we will leave off the H for now) for greater instrument connection, freeing jaw and tongue tension, and greater range. First off I want to say, try to not confuse the feeling of resonance going up and down with manipulating your throat/larynx to go up and down. Working with a closed mouth you will feel a lot of shifting buzz (exploit and bring out as much buzz available!)- that is wonderful! - let it shift but try to keep the larynx relatively neutral, slightly low, and open. Begin with your teeth lightly touching, especially effecting the connection of the back molars touching. Now, open the mouth to take in air - a feeling like the very beginning of a sneeze - you will feel up lift (palate), down release (larynx) and fill of air (viscera and muscles below). Close your mouth again with the teeth touching. On 54321 (starting on G in middle voice - and going up to A in high voice (perhaps G for mezzos/baritones) - sing (closed mouth) an MMM. A good guide for the exhale and connection of breath to the sound, is a feeling of the navel and below going into the spine. Ascend by semi-tones. Feel as if you are dropping the note from above, you are not picking anything up, or reaching for anything, just let the note drop from above. Feel that buzzing, feel the wonderful connection of the cords, feel the connection of the breath. Now, with a closed mouth sing a very legato song, for example Caro Mio Ben, or If I Loved You (from CAROUSEL) - you will open the mouth to breathe, and then close again, and remember all of this — ALL - is done with just MMM no H! Now, go back to a vocalise - 54321234 (closed mouth - May )54321 (open mouth May), all in one sequence of 5432123454321. The tip of the tongue should be placed on the bottom teeth on the gums, and may also gently press the gums when in the higher range. Also starting at middle voice G and working up to high voice A (or perhaps G for mezzos/baritones). Repeat this exercise, but when you get to the open mouth May, put your right index fingertip in between your front teeth (the right middle finger should be up near your nose and not by the left side of the mouth). Ascend by semi-tones, when you get up to around E (perhaps D for mezzos/baritones) place your right index and middle fingertip in-between your front teeth (now the right ring finger will up near your nose). Again, the tongue will be placed on the lower gums with a slight press in higher range — SLIGHT (this helps separate the tongue from the larynx)! You may feel like you need a three finger width, this is workable, but no more than 3, and I believe 2 is optimally better! A singer needs to find the correct physical release of the jaw, but if it is too wide the sound can splat, spread, and yell (especially if chest is dragged too high, and pharyngeals are not utilized), however if it is too closed the soft palate (velum) may not find enough height and the (first) formant may not be as full, but I do believe 2 (optimally) to 3 fingertip width is of great benefit. (Lip position will add lighter or darker colorings, that I will discuss in another post - but again the positions are SLIGHT!) Enjoy!