Posture & Breath

Posture

Take a minute to evaluate your singing posture and ask yourself: are both of my feet planted steadily on the ground? Are my shoulders relaxed? Is my spine straight? If you’ve answered “Yes” to these three questions, then you’re already off to a great start – but there’s still much more. Here’s a more detailed checklist to help you get your singing posture just right:

  • Starting from the top, your chin should be parallel to the floor and slightly tucked in or back.
  • In an unstrained position, hold your chest high and your shoulders down or slightly back.
  • Keep your tummy both firm and expandable at the same time. You will need to practice controlling these muscles while learning how to breathe using your diaphragm.
  • Your hands should be relaxed and held still at your side. Keep them slightly away from your body to allow air to flow around you.
  • Even if your nerves are building up, remember never to lock your knees – they should be in a loose position.
  • Leaning the weight of your body slightly forward, you should stand with your feet shoulder-length apart. You can put one foot just a tiny bit in front of the other for balance.

EXERCISES

Stand up straight against a wall:
Facing away from the wall, make your heels, calves, shoulders and head touch the wall simultaneously. Hold this position for a few minutes.

Increase your buoyancy in one position:
To understand how your weight distribution impacts your voice, stand with your feet apart, and shift your body weight until you’re nearly standing on your toes. Repeat a few times.

Expand and contract your tummy:
While standing up straight, place your hand on your tummy to ensure that your abdomen is expanding upon inhalation and relaxing when you exhale.

Breath

Breath is the fuel for singing. The tone we produce when we sing rests on a cushion of air; thus, the breath is the fuel for the sounds we produce. The more control you have over the air flow, the more control you will have over your singing tone.

Breathing is movement – movement of air, movement of muscles and organs, movement of energy. A healthy voice means free movement of air and all the muscles involved in breathing, and free movement of the vocal folds.

  • Column of air: A consistent source of air coming from the bottom of your lungs through the top of your head. Imagine a blow dryer pointing up from your diaphragm. A continuous column of air allows notes to be sung with the same excellent quality no matter where they fall in the singer’s range.
  • Massage your vocal cords: Visualize the air coming from the bottom of your lungs massaging your vocal cords and the sound will be smooth and relaxed. Tense muscles make tight, forced sound.
  • Energized breath: A quick, deep breath that adds energy to the vocal line.
  • Forward motion: The feeling/sense that the vocal line is moving toward something in anticipation, making the song interesting to listen to and keeping the tune from dragging. Proper breathing is critical to the success of forward motion.
  • 3-D Breath: Inhaling into the space all around you, in front, to the sides, in back. Establish the singing space inside your mouth and throat as you inhale.

EXERCISES

SIP IN BREATH

Demonstrate a short ‘sip’ in-breath, expanding the abdomen quickly, and a long out-breath, bringing the abdomen back in.

Choose a note which is good for all ranges and take a quick in-breath then hum the chosen note on a long out-breath.

Choose a word and take quick in-breath and on the out-breath sing the chosen word repeatedly.

Do this a few times, choosing a different word each time.

HUM

Choose a note to hum.

Point the sound at the front of the mouth so that the lips buzz.

Relax the neck imagining it was made of jelly. The hum should then sound much more relaxed.

HISS

Take a deep in-breath while slowly raising the arms to the side at shoulder height.

Make ‘hiss’ sound on the outbreath while lowering the arms.

Repeat and focus on creating as much space in the ribcage and abdominal area.

Voice Vocabulary

UNISON

Unison comes from the Latin root words uni, meaning “one,” and sonous, meaning “sound.” Unison literally means one sound. Unison occurs when two or more people play or sing the same pitch or in octaves.

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