Any car ride I take, whether it’s down the street or across the state, is always accompanied by a sweet playlist I can sing my heart out to. After a couple years of voice lessons, I can now sing to my heart’s content when I drive to the west side without my throat hurting or jaw locking. Here are a few tried and true ways to put the sassin’ in your car-singing passion without killing your voice.
Breath: My first suggestion — to work your way towards a pain-free car jam or hair-brush singing sesh — is to make sure you’re breathing.
Great! Oxygen! We need it. We love it.
On top of breathing, you want to make sure you’re breathing effectively enough to support that beautiful – or not beautiful, we don’t judge – singing. This begins by breathing throughout your entire torso.
Imagine the way a balloon expands when you blow into it, it doesn’t only expand in the bottom of the balloon by the tube you blow into. It expands fully throughout the entire balloon.
Do this with your breathing! Don’t just expand your lungs on top closest to your neck. Expand through there and into the bottoms of your ribs, your stomach area and on the sides of your body.
If you’re in the car, your seatbelt should feel tight if you’re breathing deeply enough. Another good indicator is if the waist of your pants feels a little tighter. Your abdomen should expand, so you could also look at that.
Last note about breathing: your shoulders shouldn’t rise, and your chest shouldn’t move. That means you’re inflating only the part by your neck and you’re not going to have enough breath support.
Jaw: After I started singing more, I noticed my jaw would start to lock and get tight. It’s super uncomfortable and kind of ruins the mood when you’re flawlessly rapping some Eminem.
What’s happening is you’re holding tension in your jaw that doesn’t need to be there. This is relatively easy to fix.
Moving from a lower pitch to a higher pitch isn’t helped by moving your jaw, so just stop moving it. It’s a tough habit to break, but you don’t need that to switch notes.
If your jaw is hurting, here’s a quick exercise to loosen everything up:
First, let your jaw go slack, totally relaxed.
Next, take a really deep and full breath (through the torso!) Grab your chin between your pointer finger and thumb.
As you breathe out, gently move your jaw up and down. The breath won’t go far, so do this a few times. This should relax some of those tense muscles when singing.
Honestly, just paying attention to what your jaw is doing and if it’s feeling tense can make a world of difference. If it is, shake it out a little bit.
Throat: If the very top of your throat hurts, right around where it opens into your mouth, there is a really simple stretch to open all that back up.
Close your mouth into an “o,” small enough to drink through a straw. Now, blow air through your lips, letting your cheeks puff out while you do this.
What this does is lift your soft palate, which is the soft part in the roof of your mouth. On days when I’ve been a little lazy with my singing, this is such a refreshing stretch.
Tongue: The last thing I struggle with in my singing is feeling like I’m choking on my tongue. This is caused by tongue tension.
(If you’re not keeping track, that’s three different tensions you can encounter while singing and that’s just scratching the surface.)
What you’ll want to do is put the tip of your tongue behind your teeth. While you keep it there, stick out your tongue – the middle of your tongue is the part that will actually be sticking out of your mouth.
It looks ridiculous, but you’re already doing your own backup dancing in your car, so what’s wrong with some crazy tongue stretching?
This quick tongue stretch will relax your tongue muscle and reset it.
At the end of the day, car, shower and hairbrush singing are guilty pleasures, and we don’t actually want to work any harder. That kind of defeats the purpose.
If you’re struggling with a sore throat or jaw after a few albums of Gaga, hopefully these tips will get you through a few more.