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Part 2: Vowel Articulation

2A The Three Moving Parts of a Vowel (30min)

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There are two broad categories of speech sounds - vowels and consonants. When airflow through the mouth is obstructed in any way, we call the resulting sound a consonant. When the airflow through the mouth is completely unobstructed, we call the resulting sound a vowel. What distinguishes one vowel from the next are the positions/movements of three body parts: - The Tongue - The Lips - The Soft Palate (Velum) In the videos below, I help students map the connections between these physical movements and the sounds they produce. Place yourself in the position of each student and follow along with my instruction. After you've finished watching ALL THREE videos, write a brief summary of what you learned in the #learn channel.

2B Isolating the Tongue

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In the first video below, I move my tongue horizontally back and forth to a steady meter WITHOUT moving my lips. Then in the second video, I move my tongue vertically up and down WITHOUT moving my jaw. As simple as this looks, you will most likely not be able to achieve this on your first try. When you move your tongue, you will automatically want to move your lips and jaw along with it. It's only through training that you can decouple the movements. Practice moving your tongue in both directions while keeping your jaw and lips fixed in neutral positions. Use a mirror or camera to spot check yourself. Also be sure to practice the movement with your eyes closed, and NO SOUND, so you can concentrate only on the movement. If you spend enough focused time, your mind will eventually be able to clearly map the connection and isolate the movement. Once you have enough control, practice moving your tongue in sync with me. Then when you're ready, record a Loom of you performing in sync with me and share it to the #articulation channel, along with a brief description of your experience learning the movements (click here to join the #articulation channel).
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2C Isolating the Lips

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In the video below, I start with my tongue fixed in the /i/ position. Then without moving my tongue at all, I move my lips from a spread position, to neutral, to rounded, to silence, all to a beat. I repeat this 4 times and then stop the metronome. Then for the final bit, I start from a spread /i/ and very slowly round my lips to a rounded /y/ while keeping my tongue fixed in the same position, then back again. For this isolation, you won't be able to spot check with your eyes, since your tongue (which is the thing that will want to move) will be hidden behind your lips. The key is to fully map the postural feeling of your tongue (see image below of what /i/ position looks like), and to maintain that tongue posture the entire time. Practice first by moving in silence with your eyes closed, so you can focus exclusively on the movement. If you spend enough focused time, your mind will eventually be able to clearly map the connection and isolate the movement. Once you have enough control, practice moving your lips in sync with me. Then when you're ready, record a Loom of you performing in sync with me and share it to the #articulation channel, with a brief description of your experience learning the movement.
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2D Isolating the Soft Palate (Velum)

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In the video below, I give you a closeup on my soft palate, and move it back and forth to the beat. When the velum is contracted up, air leaves exclusively through my mouth (Oral). When the velum is relaxed, air leaves through BOTH my mouth and my nose. Open your mouth wide and use a hand-sized mirror to accelerate your learning. Once you are able to hear the difference, try practicing with NO SOUND so you can mentally map the feeling of the contraction and relaxation. This is the most difficult movement to isolate, so be patient with it. You have to just fool around with the movements in your mouth with a mirror until you start to mentally map the space. With enough attention, you will get it. When you think you're ready, record yourself syncing with me and post your Loom to #articulation, with a brief description of your experience learning the move.
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