The Magic of ‘ng’

Weekly Teaching Tip – Feb. 24, 2020
by Dean Kaelin

I have spent my entire 37 years of teaching looking for ways to help students feel and find Mix quickly. One of the best sounds I have found is ‘ng’ as in the word ‘hung’.

Yes, most people can find Mix with a ‘bubble’, but then they have to move from a ‘bubble’ to a ‘normal sound’ and many times as they move toward a ‘normal sound’ they slip out of the placement.

The ‘ng’ puts the sound in the right placement to get a Mix (or as we used to call it – a ‘split resonance’) so that they feel the sound ascending into their head, while still holding on to the anchor of chest voice. I use ‘ng’ on the ‘long scale’ (1.5 octave). Once they feel the ‘ng’ connecting up the ‘rooms (or floors) in the voice’, then you gradually open the vowel without losing the feeling or placement. (to ‘eh’, then ‘uh’, then ‘ah’). You can also do the ‘ng’ on different scale patterns.

I also REALLY like the “ee-yah-ee-yah” combination. This also helps the singer find the balance of “hanging on” and “letting go” necessary to find Mix. It is also a brilliant way to teach the “centered vowel” as the singer does not have time to move the vowel all the way from the “top-front” (where they feel “ee”) to “bottom-middle” (where they feel “ah”). They must find a place in between the 2 vowels that will accommodate both vowels, thus Centering the Vowels! The “ee-yah” place just happens to be the same place where the ‘ng’ is when it starts to open!! So if the student can find the placement right off with the “ee-yah” you can actually skip the ‘ng’ if you want! (“ee-yoh” also works great to find the placement and center the vowel.)

The other great thing about “ng” is it can be used to teach singers how to sing with power and how to “lean” or “press” into the sound. The thing about ‘ng’ though is that the singer can’t really get very loud, because the ‘ng’ closes off the sound. But they get the feeling of leaning into it and singing and trying to sing louder without adding strain or tension. Once they feel that balance you just gradually open up the vowel again (drop the jaw) and the sound will get louder with the same energy. Make sure it doesn’t “fall out” and they actually go into a full out yell. We want the energy and volume of a yell, without an actual yell! Even at a very loud volume there should still be relaxation in the jaw and tongue!

Have fun!!

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