Whenever you speak or sing in a language that is foreign to you, your facial and upper body muscles are strained in an unusual way. This is not the case with our native tongue or languages that – although not our native ones – have become familiar to you.
Of course, our muscles always undergo a certain measure of strain when speaking (or singing) in any language but our body is used to “our” language(s) which means that we don’t feel the muscular stress.
I once heard a guy talking about the most important thing when approaching a new language: he said that the most important thing is to speak in the new language until “your facial muscles get sore from it”.
So, usually before working on German diction (or any other diction that’s foreign to you), I recommend stretching your facial muscles.
I’ve put together my three favourite warm-up excercises:
Three simple warm-up excercises for your facial muscles
#1: Relaxing the jaw
Put forefinger, middle finger and ring finger at your jaw point, approximately at the height of your earlobe. Open the mouth carefully but not too wide and then gently push the lower jaw 10 times to the right and 10 times to the left side.
#2: The OO-EE-method
Open your mouth widely, round the lips and say an O. You should feel a stretch in the upper and lower jaw/lips. Then switch to an EE-sound by pulling back the lips into a “smile” and showing your teeth. You should fell the stretching now at the mouth sides.
#3: Tongue relaxation
Close your mouth, open the teeth and glide with your tongue between lips and teeth. Carry this exercise out first in demi-circles, going from the lower right teeth to the lower left teeth, then doing the same at your upper teeth. Afterwards, let the tongue do a whole circle, first clockwise then counter-clockwise.
I love these excercises and do them every morning to relax my usually tight jaw.
Try them and tell me how it worked for you.