The goal is to produce a louder voice, without any deep positioning or straining of the tongue and throat.
This is an important warning: If you pull back your tongue forcefully, the thyroid cartilage will fall down into a deep position against the opening of the throat.
I tested 10 people, half of which are experienced singers.
This was the result:
Three people lowered the thyroid cartilage, but the other seven people moved the hyoid bone into a deep position as well as lowering the thyroid cartilage.
In a closer examination, the people who only had the thyroid cartilage down did not put their tongue in the correct position, and the people who had the hyoid bone in a deep position did put their tongue down in the correct area. This area under the tongue is referred to as the lingual frenulum. If the tongue is pulled slightly back and down in the middle position of the lingual frenulum, the tongue gets deep in the hyoid bone and epiglottis, pulling the epiglottis down.
The hyoid bone is the only bone in the human body not connected to any other bone. The hyoid bone allows human beings to speak! Its purpose is to anchor/support your tongue, aid in tongue movement, and raise your larynx whenever you talk and swallow. This bone also provides a place of attachment for many muscles associated with the mouth’s floor, as well as the larynx, pharynx, and epiglottis.
The soft palate is composed of soft tissue. When it is flattened by pressure it changes the current of exhalation, consequently obstructing the flow of breath. This does not only make the space of pharyngeal cavity smaller, but also causes the epiglottis to cover the piriform recess, which makes the voice sound bad.
If your voice coach instructs you to, “Push your tongue down tight and flush with the middle to center of the lingual frenulum” or “Sing with your mouth open wide, similar to yawning,” please inquire as to what the purpose is and also the outcome expected. Because…
There are so many cases that show that pulling down the tongue in deeply and forcibly, can cause muscle strain of the suspension mechanism (hanging the thyroid cartilage) and lead to the tearing of the hyoepiglottic ligament.
Visible symptoms of strain and tearing are pain, closeness, no vibrancy of voice, or a boxy voice when vocalizing.
If you get an injury once (even a slight injury) it is very difficult to repair, because the muscles are constantly being used for speaking. So, please be careful.
I will describe how to move the tongue, (depending on the status) using the cross-section view of a head below.
Status : The tongue is pushed down/depressed
Please observe the figure and position of the epiglottis.
●The current flow of exhalation changes or becomes slower(blue arrow)
●The space of the pharyngeal cavity, (which is relating to the chamber) becomes smaller(orange arrow).
●The hyoid bone is pulled by the hyoepiglottic ligament and lowers itself
Note1:The larynx and everything directly connected it, (the hyoid bone,the thyroid cartilage and the cricoid cartilage .e.g) relies on the tension of several thin and tiny muscles. Therefore, this is not a lot of power creating this changes and movements. If you are supposed to train by pulling down your tongue forcibly, I would like you to understand you are taking a risk and advise you to prepare and educate yourself on these mechanics to prevent any future injuries.
Note2:I have been asked, “Is pulling down the tongue good for treating Spasmodic Dysphonia?”
I do not believe so, because firstly, this causes excessive muscle tension/hardening, and can cause choking, shaking or cracking of the voice. Secondly, this action also makes the voice sound very quiet, due to a narrowed path of breathing in the throat, resulting in shallow breaths. For treating the Spasmodic Dysphonia, I would like to recommend you train yourself to put your hyoid bone forward. Please visit my center for more details.