Technical question

Question: During practice rehearsing vent, I am working on the resonant areas in the head.  I am trying to hollow them out as much as possible, but frequently they seem to "clog up" fast.  I can't keep the resonant areas open long until I hear that area close.  Is there a remedy or is this some kind of a medical issue?  While working on that, I sometimes hear my jaw snap some.  I know some ventriloquists work hard at some things, but should I continue this?  JP
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From Mr. D:  The sinus cavities provide the resonant areas.  I suffer similar issues with my sinuses at times.  This is primarily a medical issue as you suggest.  I'm sure people have suggestions for favorite remedies - everything from nasal irrigation to over the counter medicines.  Best to check with your physician or pharmacist.

Setting that issue aside for the moment, I am going to suggest you simply go ahead and practice your vent voice using other qualities to achieve voice contrast: tonal pitch, vocabulary, inflection of speech, tempo of speaking, dialect, etc.  Perhaps you will not feel resonance, but there likely will be some and when performing closeup, in the classroom, or with a sound system, the amount of resonance (or lack thereof) should not be a major issue.

Try to keep your jaw motionless, but relaxed.  If you feel "snapping", I fear you are holding it too tightly and forcefully rigid.  There is no need be that forceful.  If you feel that happening, take a break and perhaps try a few short "stretching" exercises with your jaw (opening and closing the mouth widely several times, etc) to help relax the facial muscles.

Hard work is important and will be rewarded, but try to keep it enjoyable.  Practice with your vent figure as much as possible.  Ask him questions, have fun with his answers.  As his character and personality develop, so will your skills of voice contrast and manipulation.  Enjoy!

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