One of the most important things for a singer to be able to do is to lift their soft palate. Here is a lesson for learning how to raise your soft palate while singing. (Many people spend years taking lessons to learn how to do this.)
First we must find the soft palate. With your tongue you can feel the bone behind your teeth on the roof of your mouth. This is the hard palate. If your tongue goes back further, the bone ends, and there is skin. This is the soft palate. If you look in a mirror, you will see your uvula is attached to the soft palate. The uvula is the little bit of skin that hangs down near the back of your throat.
There are several ways we naturally raise our soft palate.
1) Whenever we yawn, we naturally raise our soft palate. (Have everyone do a yawn.) Yawning is too open for good singing. But if you are singing correctly, you may yawn, because your mouth may want to stretch. A choir that has people yawning does not mean they are tired or bored, but that the singers are probably singing correctly.
2) Whenever we are suddenly surprised and take in a quick breath, we raise our soft palate. ( Have all do that.) This is also not good for singing, because there is too much air taken in at once, it can dry out our throat, and it is not good breathing technique. When we breath in, we want it to be quiet and from our diaphragm.
3) Whenever we eat spicy foods, we lift our soft palate. (Have your singers breathe in and fan the ‘flames’ as if they have eaten hot or spicy foods.) The way we form our mouth when we have hot or spicy food or great for singing especially the oh and oo vowels.
4) Just before we sneeze we lift our soft palate. (Demonstrate the ah, ah, ah, and then sing ah. Have the singers imitate you. Know that there will always be one singer who will do the ‘achoo!’, and it could be your 80 year old tenor. Smile and remind them to do it BEFORE you sneeze. Younger groups may have to get out their sneezes before going on to successfully imitate your demonstration.) This is the best way to form your mouth for singing. Remind your singers to sing as if they are ready to sneeze. If they do this, you will have a wonderful sounding choir.