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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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Discussion Details

Title: Optimizing articulation for classical singers
Submitter: Claudia Friedlander
Description: I need some advice and direction from a neurolinguistics expert, and I am hoping that someone on this site will be interested in helping me.

I am a singing teacher who trains opera singers. Classical singers must perform in many different languages, and to be successful they need to figure out how to optimize their resonance for all the different sounds they have to make while still delivering their texts with excellent diction. Because they usually do not begin their training until their teens or even later, by the time they begin to learn singing technique they have deeply ingrained speech habits.

The way that they are wired to articulate their vowels and consonants is far from optimal for singing. Optimal resonance requires that they choose ways to define their vowels with as relaxed a jaw as possible, don't excessively retract the tongue, etc. I'm looking for ways to help them learn how to reform their articulation process more efficiently. The singers who learn to do this successfully seem to be able to mentally de-couple the movements that create various phonemes from the actual words they comprise as they work on their repertoire. I would like to design a series of exercises to help singers cultivate this ability and use it to redefine the sounds they need to make to sing well.

I don't think that I need someone who understands singing or opera - what I think I need is someone who can explain to me how the part of the brain that exercises motor control over the articulators relates to the part of the brain that governs language acquisition/verbal communication. Or who can explain to me why that is the wrong question to ask.

Thanks for taking the time to ready my query - hope you can help!
Date Posted: 24-Jul-2013
Linguistic Field(s): Phonetics
LL Issue: 24.3012
Posted: 24-Jul-2013

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