The Troublesome R

The American English speaker, depending on individual and regional dialect, may have some trouble when it comes to singing the consonant “R.” Try it: say, “Q, R, S” as if you are reciting the alphabet. Feel how “Q” is formed in the mid mouth with a k sound and travels to the front of the mouth where the lips form the u sound? What a wonderful consonant to sing! Singing should always feel this good! Alas, much work is required to make it so. Case in point: now say "R." What do you notice about the path R travels? The opposite of Q! For most American English speakers, R starts with a nice open “ah” sound, with a relaxed jaw, and then is brought into the throat as one tightens the jaw to close the mouth. The R sound is then on the throat, sounding smothered and somewhat like a pirate. Imagine what singing such an R does to the phrase you are trying to sing. If you are having trouble with a phrase, experiencing an interruption of sound or a disturbance of pitch, this troublesome R is often the culprit. I can help!

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Clancy Cox, Soprano