Jaw control

Question: Hello Clinton, I have a question for you about Jaw movement! I have been struggling with being able to hold my bottom jaw completely still during performances. When I practice before a mirror I do not see hardly any movement, but when I perform with a puppet there is more movement. You can see it more on a side view when I'm looking at the puppet and talking. When the shot is a straight shot you don't notice any lip/jaw movement. I have been practicing with a video camera and getting away from my security blanket, the mirror. I still see movement in my jaw. I have been practicing everyday with the ventril-o-aid and the ventriloquist mouth position both morning and night and some practice in between times throughout the day( with character voices/ conversations etc.) since I went back to the lessons in the Maher Home Course of Ventriloquism. I did a Tea Party presentation this past Thurs. night and it was video taped. I will have to admit it is the best video I have seen of myself and the control of the jaw has really improved. I do want perfect still lips and jaw during any performance. Can you give me any tips on what to do? Is there something I'm missing? A friend of mine says she has the same problem with her jaw.
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Answer: You're experiencing a very common ventriloquist problem. I've always thought it was about as difficult to learn jaw control as lip control. With the mirror, you are focusing on one thing - speech without lip/jaw movement. Add a puppet and now you have diverted your attention some. It IS more difficult to keep the jar/lips still when you have a puppet's manipulation to think about as you speak for it. Add a script to remember and an audience and you now have added yet more areas of concentration which is why it is so important to practice repeatedly to make jaw/lip control a natural rote happening.

I know no secret way to make it happen other than determined work and focused repeated practice. I do believe the video is a much better self-check tool than the mirror at this stage of your career. It sounds as though you have found this to be true and are taking advantage of that tool. Note: It is possible to have a perfectly still jaw and still see some side throat movement. Throat muscle movement is a result of your tongue moving inside your mouth. Such movement is actually quite common, even for some pros. Not a thing you can do about it other than hold your tongue still - not recommended! :-) Keep your puppet moving/speaking in an entertaining manner and all eyes will be on it. No one will notice whatever slight jaw movement you might have.

Keep on doing what you are doing - you will see positive results.

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