Anyone who has had any performance experience, professionally or amateur will have been told this by a musical director or coach at some point...but what do they mean by this?
When we smile or widen the mouth, we adjust the position of our resonators, in this case the lips, teeth, oral cavity and soft palette, which in turn changes the resonating space in which sound is made. When widening this shape we create a brighter sound. Try singing on an ‘ee’ vowel sound whilst smiling, then try again not smiling, you will hear the difference in resonating tone.
When being told to sing ‘up and over’, what the listener is wanting you to achieve is what is commonly known in the Voice world as ‘tilt’. This is a movement of the Thyroid Cartlidge which thins out the vocal folds, creating more flexibility and a brighter, even tone. It can also feel like the vibrations made from the larynx are resonating high up and forward. Make a whimpering sound with your mouth closed, then try and transition into an ‘ee’, you will feel this high ‘forward’ positioning. It can also add nice tone to belt notes and plays a big part In achieving mix voice!
So smiling and singing ‘up and over’ are other ways of asking you to make the tone of a note brighter!
Play around with the positions of your resonators and see what different sounds you can make!