Hello there Vocalisters-

I have a question specifically regarding the throat tension that comes about by the strong reflex of the swallowing muscles- the digastric muscles.
Ive been working with a mature age student who has studied vocal technique (in her 20s), and has recently decided to take up singing lessons again. Unfortunately, after many years of singing without a teacher, she's developed some detrimental habits- one of which has severely affected her ease of producing sounds in her mid/head voice. It seems she's fallen into that trap of "bigger sound is better", and she's experiencing difficulties.

The swallowing muscles seem to engage REALLY strongly around Bb4- getting worse as she ascends.
The tension in her lower jaw/neck area is not only audible (her mid to head voice will cut off like she's gagging- cutting off the air) but is causing her pain as well. Its somewhat frustrating as weve worked for several weeks now on this issue, and although I know this is not a problem that can be fixed overnight- I dont get the feeling were making progress, or that the tension is letting up. it's a little discouraging.

Ive had her do several things- amongst others- vocalizing gently while placing hr fingers under her jaw and monitoring when it tightens, vocalizing on the ng sound, singing with less air- thinking of that small, pointy sound, singing scales on the pure vowels- helping her notice lack of tongue involvement in the back of the throat, vocalizing with closed lips and humming with her tongue sticking out

Im stumped, and am running out of ideas- Id be grateful for your thoughts/exercises/solutions, especially if you have encountered this pesky problem in your own teaching or singing, and how you went about breaking it down to instill a better functioning voice.

Thanks, and sorry for the rather long post-

Virginia