The “ng” exercise

Weekly Teaching Tip – May 12, 2014
by Dean Kaelin

This question came to me from a teacher a while back.

Question: I’ve been wanting to ask this question for awhile now. The ‘ng’ exercise, as in hung, ning, etc. What are all the uses? When shouldn’t you use it etc. It seems to help people to get a sense of connection. If a student sings in the back of the throat steer clear of it? I’m a bit Bit confused on this one.

Answer: The ‘ng’ exercise is great for helping anyone find the feeling of moving into their head voice without letting go of chest. It is a great sound to help singers start finding a mix. It totally blocks the sound going into the mouth and forces it all up behind the soft palate. As a result, you don’t want to leave it there. Once they get the feeling of the ‘ng’ you can move to a “French Ah” and a “French Oh” (using the French Nasals). This allows the singer to continue feeling the placement of the ‘ng’ while getting the feeling of some of the sound coming back into the mouth getting that ‘split resonance’ sound. Once they can do the French sounds, they can move to the more “American” Oh and AH so that the majority of the sound moves into the mouth and very little is left up in the nose (although in Mix there will always be a little there.)

It is good for most singers, even those singing in just head voice since it helps them feel some connection. But it is best for chest pullers so that they can feel some release without letting everything go. Once the singer can do the ‘ng’ a good exercise to go to is a “ning-ah-ning-ah”, then eventually an “ah-ee-ah-ee”, then adding consonants so “ma-mee-ma-mee” and “na-nee-na-nee”.

If a singer is always in the “back of their throat” it would probably be better to use “nasty nay” and “ae” (as in back) to help bring the sound forward.

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