What if I told you that I could help you minimize your vocal strain, increase your breath capacity, and improve your tonal quality with this one very important thing? Would you be willing to give it a try even if it seemed to be a little uncomfortable, at first? If I could guarantee you that the consistent practice of this thing could help improve your singing voice and your overall health, do you think it would be worth the initial discomfort? If so, let’s begin.
By now, you’re either wondering what I am talking about, or if you’re like me, you’ve skipped ahead to find out what can produce such miraculous results. I’m talking about good posture. In this post, I’ll talk about the benefits of good posture, give you a guide to what good posture is, and provide you with an exercise to help you develop and maintain good posture.
Good posture for singing was one of the first lessons that I learned in my elementary school music class. Next, was how to breathe properly. These two lessons are still the first things that books on singing, and vocal coaches teach because good posture and breath management are the foundation of good singing. Breath is the power supply or engine for singing. However, if the body is not properly aligned with good posture, the breathing mechanism will not function at its best. This will cause the singer undue stress in the body that can lead to an undesirable sound. Similarly, if a wind instrument has a bend or dent in it, it will not produce sound in the way that it was originally intended.
When a person is talking about good posture, they are really talking about good body alignment. As stated earlier, the body must be aligned properly in order for your air to flow in an unrestricted way. You may not even know your posture needs adjusting because you can’t see the way you stand, and over the years you have made adjustments that feel comfortable to you even if it may cause more harm than good in the long run. In order to see if you are practicing good habits, try facing a floor length mirror. Check to see if your:
- Chin is parallel to the floor
- Chest is open and raised, not collapsed
- Spine is elongated
- Hands are at your sides
- Shoulders are not slouched, but blades are slightly back and down.
- Feet are planted on the floor shoulder width apart, with one foot slightly in front of the other
- Knees are not locked
You can also stand in front of a mirror sideways to see if your:
- Chin is parallel to the floor
- Ears are aligned with your shoulders
- Shoulders are aligned with your hips
- Hips are aligned with your knees
- Knees are aligned with your feet
If you see that you are not exercising the best posture, you can make adjustments. Here is an exercise that I have done over the years to help me and my students develop and maintain good posture.
- Stand up straight against the wall.
- Your feet should be shoulder width apart with the heels of your feet touching the base board of the wall.
- In addition, your head, shoulders, backside, and legs should also touch the wall.
- Arms should be at your sides.
- Remember not the to lock your knees.
Another exercise to help develop good posture, very similar to the one above, is lying on the floor with your:
- Feet planted on the floor shoulder width apart.
- Knees pointing up towards the ceiling.
- Head, shoulders, and backside touching the floor.
- Arms resting on the floor on each side.
While standing against the wall or lying on the floor, your body should be the same from the waist up.
In addition to the exercises above, you may want to explore the Alexander Technique or the Feldenkrais Method. Both of these methods focus on obtaining balance in your body in a way that gets rid of tension and have proven helpful to singers. If you’re interested in learning more, here are a couple of books that you can look at to get you started:
Voice and the Alexander Technique: Active Explorations for Speaking and Singing by Jane Ruby Heirich
Singing with Your Whole Self: A Singer’s Guide to Feldenkrais Awareness through Movement by Samuel H. Nelson and Elizabeth L. Blades
Please leave any comments, questions, book recommendations or warm-ups that you’d like to share in the comment section below.
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