Why Posture Is Important for Singing

When a student first begins to study in the area of vocal music they must first set their priorities.  Many are surprised to find out that the first priority is not the voice. It is not that the voice is not important, it is important.  But the infrastructure supporting the voice is very important. If the infrastructure is weak or of insufficient support, much harm can come to the instrument.  This is why posture is important for singing. It is the supporting infrastructure of the voice.

Why is posture important for singing?

We have just stated that posture provides the structure on which the vocal mechanism relies.  The mechanism of the voice is made up of a source of power, the producer and the amplifiers.

The source of power is the breath.  The air must be forced from the lungs through the trachea and flow through the larynx, where the sound is produced.  The sound is then amplified by the resonators, the pharynx, the mouth and nasal cavities. If these are not properly aligned the best production of the voice cannot be attained.  This is where posture comes into play.

Breath support and control for singing.

Let’s begin with the foundation.  The breath provides the power to produce the voice.  Sound is produced by the compression and decompression of air waves impressed upon our eardrums.  Without a consistent flow of air power from the power source we cannot hope to bet a good vocal production.

Many suppose the diaphragm to be the source of power to force the air out of the lungs.  Though the diaphragm is important, it is not the producer of the power that forces the air out of the lungs.  Its role is to infuse the lungs with air, inhale the air, and then regulate its outward flow, exhalation. Because of its structure it lacks the ability to force air out of the lungs.  Any muscle in its relaxed position is in its longest state. As it flexes, it shortens its station. When the diaphragm is relaxed it is in a domed shape. In its flexed position it shortens into a flattened form. In this position it provides a suction for the lungs to draw air in. It provides a regulatory role by gradually releasing tension and controlling the flow of air out of the lungs.  The out flow is brought about by the flexing of the intercostal muscles when singing or speaking.

Muscle and skeleton

This is where posture plays a role.  All muscles are in some way connected to the skeleton of the body.  The leverage of the muscle will be affected for good or bad depending on the posture of the skeleton.  Good leverage means good production. Weak leverage, weak production.

The same is true in singing, and especially in the power supply.  Poor posture puts the muscle in a less than optimal position. Therefore, the production will not be at its best.  With the energy supply weakened other processes will be overloaded. If they are overloaded they will not operate at their best.  That is when problems develop.

Almost all singers with poor posture develop other vocal problems.  So, it is of utmost importance to get the posture right.

What is the best posture for singing?

So, how do you determine if you have correct posture for your singing?  First we need to determine what good posture is in normal situations. The best way that I have found to do that is to lie on your back on the floor.  Lie on your back with your heels on the floor. Hands should be at your side, your shoulder blades flat on the floor. Your head should be tilted slightly and lying on the floor.

Why posture is important for singing
Discover correct posture

Relax in this position and concentrate on how your body parts relate to one another.  This is a position that we are rarely in, even when we sleep. So take five or ten minutes to find out how it feels with all parts of your body in sinc.  The next step to translate that to singing posture is to stand up. To get things in line, if you can, stand with your back against a wall. Depending on your body build, you may not be able to put your heels against the wall.  But do place your heels as close to the wall as you comfortably can.

Why posture is important for singing
Good standing posture

Your head, shoulder blades and hands should be against the wall as they were against the floor. Now, hold this position for five or ten minutes and concentrate on how it feels.  You will not be able to maintain this position at all times but it is a good starting position. Return to it from time to time just to keep things in their proper relationship.

Benefits of standing erect to sing

In this position you will find your chest lifted with your shoulders erect and back.  This posture will keep your shoulder and chest muscles from heaving when you inhale. It will also keep your chest from sinking when you exhale.

In this position your diaphragm will function at its best when you inhale.  It will also be set to regulate the outflow as you exhale. With this posture the abdominal muscles can be at their prime as they supply the force to push the air.  The power supply of the abdomen will be consistent and controlled.

To learn more about the diaphragm and how it works see the video at this link.  https://youtu.be/hp-gCvW8PRY

Proper breathing techniques for singing

To be able to sing we must adjust our breathing.  Normally we take about ten to twelve breaths a minute.  In singing we may only take six to eight breaths per minute, depending on the song.  So, we must make some adjustment in our breathing.

At the outset we know that we shall have to take deeper breaths.  Since singing prolongs the phonation of the word we shall need more air.  Most people in this situation respond by raising the shoulders and lifting the chest.  This is not the best means to get more air into our lungs. Lifting the chest and shoulders does not lower the diaphragm.  So we end up filling the tops of our lungs. But if we inhale that breath by flexing our diaphragm we shall get much more air in and available for singing.

So, the shoulders should remain erect, as if against the wall.  Make your  chest should feel like it is raised and locked in place.

How to develop correct breathing technique

How are we going to develop the feeling of inhaling deeply to fill our lungs to capacity?  One of the ways that I find helpful is to force myself to yawn. When you yawn you automatically inhale.  When you inhale through a yawn you will feel your abdomen expand. It does it automatically. The way to develop this technique is to make yourself yawn a lot and get to know what it feels like.  Then as you learn you will be able to do it whenever you desire.

This is a good thing because as you develop your voice and singing you will find the same muscles of the yawn will affect the extension of your range.  Get an early start.

Breath control for singing through good posture

To begin to develop control over our breathing do this exercise.  If you have one, use a metronome. If not, just think of one count per second.  Inhale over 3 beats. Then do a hiss sound (ssss) for 10 beats. Do this five times.  As you have opportunity you can increase the (sssss) to 12 seconds and the 15 seconds.  After a while you will be able to extend it even longer.

Another exercise is the “yawn” that I mentioned above.  Yawning will cause you to take very deep breaths. If you can make yourself yawn five times and get that feeling in you mind, you will see much improvement.  As you progress try to keep that yawn feeling even as you exhale or as you sing. You will soon find yourself singing longer phrases without a breath.

Gaining control of your breath will be a big step in gaining control of your voice.  When you get to that point you will begin to see improvements in your singing like never before.  And it will become much more enjoyable to you.

Right posture, right singing

I hope that you are beginning to see the importance of good posture in singing correctly.  If you do not learn the way to use your vocal instrument, you will be damaging it instead of building it.  Too many enthusiastic musicians start with a natural talent but do not train it properly. I have known of many who have lasted for a while and then have lost their voice through misuse.  They did not build their instrument wisely.

I encourage you to use wisdom as you begin to develop your voice.  We shall be sharing wisdom that I have gained over 50+ years of singing.  We shall give you the tools and the direction to help you enjoy your singing and share it with others.

How to improve singing
Good breath control

 

To read more about singing and developing your voice you can go to these sites.    HERE         HERE             HERE

 

How Can I Improve My Singing Voice

Music is an important facet in modern society.  Every part of any society is impacted by music in one way or another.  Music can help set the mood for a gathering or change the mood. Music can be calming or motivating.  It can be inspiring or encouraging. Music has been called the universal language. Though all music has the potential for all of the above, it is singing that has the most potential.  That is why so many want to know “How can I improve my singing voice?”How to improve singing

How to improve my singing voice fast – something to avoid

One of the things that should be avoided is the urge to improve your singing voice fast.  It is tempting to try to find a shortcut to improving your singing voice. But you must understand that the voice mechanism has muscles and muscles do not develop or grow instantly.

There are many people who will teach you little “tricks” that will seemingly improve your vocal production.  The “trick” may actually bring about a perceived improvement in the sound. But, the “trick” will be just that, a “trick”.  In the long run it may do damage to your voice rather than enhancing your voice.

Such promotions as “improve your singing voice instantly” or “improve your singing voice quickly” should be avoided.  To take that route would be like asking a sandlot football player to play with the NFL players. It cannot be safely or wisely done.

The question remains, How can I improve my singing voice?

I mentioned above that the voice mechanism has muscles which control it.  Muscles do not instantly become proficient in what they do. It takes time and repetition to build the strength necessary to carry out their given function.  The vocal mechanism is no different.

A baby does not learn how to speak in just a few days.  It usually take 5 to 6 years to begin to become proficient in whatever language a child is reared in. So in singing, one should expect to learn over a period of time, not instantly.

Strengthen my singing voice
Your key to success

If you are truly interested in improving your singing voice, you should lay out a plan.  Many people decide early on and begin as young people by taking voice lessons. Some begin by joining a choir or learning to play a musical instrument.  Typically, a person who has a musical instrument background progresses faster than one who does not. There are exceptions to every rule though.

Strengthen your singing voice

If you are a person who wants to strengthen your singing voice, there are things you can do.  If you are not inclined to take private voice lessons, you can join a choir. If your church has a choir, join it.  If you do not read music, many choirs have learning sessions to help its members.

How can I improve my singing voice
Local Choir

If you are not in a church, check to see if there are local choral societies.  Singing on a regular basis is a good beginning to strengthening your voice. A good choral director will give good counsel in developing a stronger voice.

If you decide you want more training, then you can look for a good private voice teacher.  One of the best ways to find a good voice teacher is to check with NATS. This is the National Association of Teachers of Singing.  They are made up of people who are trained in the area of vocal development.

How to improve my singing voice
National Association of Teachers of Singing

Most have degrees and experience in teaching vocal development.  Many are college professors, but not all. Some are primary and secondary school teachers. Others are private studio teachers.

A good private teacher will map out a personal plan for your vocal development.  It will not be an overnight type of plan. It may be a year or two, or even several years.  If they promise a quick resolution, you might want to check around. A good teacher knows that it takes time to build a strong voice.

Voice strengthening exercises

Every good plan for building a strong singing voice will include exercises.  In fact there will probably be more exercises than actual songs. The reason for this is that exercises, or vocalises, target specific areas of development.  Any given song may have several areas that may need to be addressed. But each area may only be addressed minimally. A vocalise will address the area in an extended manner.  This allows for the muscular development needed to address the point in any given song.

The great tenor, Pavarotti, once pointed out this practice.

How to improve my singing voice
One of the great tenors

 His teacher would not allow him to sing a particular aria until he had perfected the vocalise.  But after he had mastered the vocalise the aria was simply a matter of learning the notes and words.

Learning and practicing voice strengthening exercises will bring dividends for years to come.

Other ways to improve your singing voice

The best way to improve your singing voice is to have a good private teacher as we mentioned above.  But there are other ways you can improve your singing if you cannot afford a private teacher.

If you have a general knowledge of music and can read music you can teach yourself.  By following blogs such as tomharveybaritone.com you can gain knowledge in the field.  At this site and others you can download exercises and tools which you can utilize to strengthen your voice.

You can purchase vocalise materials and songs from recommended suppliers. The vocalise materials that we recommend will have recordings with which you can practice.  One of the most difficult things I had to do in college was finding an accompanist for practicing vocalise. But on this site we will provide the accompaniments that you will need for any vocalise that we recommend.

As you advance in you development through vocalise you will begin to put what you learn into practice.  You will do that by learning songs. In the beginning the songs will be fairly simple. But we will provide recorded accompaniments for the songs that we recommend.  The accompaniments will come for low voice and high voice, whichever is best for you. You will be able to download an MP3 of the vocalises and the songs.

You can buy the copies of the music from your own music supplier or order it from our recommended suppliers.

Improving your singing voice takes time

Strengthen my voice
Be patient.

I said it once, I’ll say it again.  Improving your singing voice takes time.  Vocal exercises strengthen your voice, not gimmicks.  I recommend that you give yourself one year to begin to see a definite strengthening of your voice.  To be able to do that you might consider making a recording of your singing. After a year, make a recording of the same song and compare your progress.  

If you will be patient you will see great improvement over the years.  Be consistent in your practice, about thirty minutes a day if you can. Emphasise the vocalise practice with an occasional song practice.  

Most people who major in voice in college spend a minimum of two hours a day practicing.  I can tell you from experience, that if you do not have the right tools, ten hours is not enough.  Many music majors finish their degree and have very little vocal progress to show for their time and money.  If you can exercise patience and apply the tools we recommend you will see progress. At first it will seem slow.  But as your voice strengthens, you will see it develop more and more.

Singing should be fun

The best thing you can do to make good progress in strengthening your singing voice is to enjoy it. Strengthen my singing voice

 By “enjoy it”, I mean the vocalizing as well as the singing. The vocalizations that I recommend are not those where you do the same thing over and over.  

There are several master teachers of classical singing that I employ.  The first is Nicola Vaccai whose training method taught the rudiments of good singing through simple art songs.  His method is called “Vaccai: Practical Method of Italian Singing”. Depending on the time invested, it takes a couple of years to master the fifteen lessons.  But you will be an excellent singer when you do.

Another composer and teacher of singing was Salvatore Marchesi. Marchesi lived in the mid to late 19th century.  He was a successful composer and teacher. His “Twenty Elementary and Progressive Vocalises” is considered one of the best tools for developing proficient singers.

Among other composers of vocalises that we employ are Lütgen, Panofka, and Concone.  All of these methods emphasise the joy of singing instead of it being a burden. So even the practice becomes something that we look forward to and enjoy.

How can I improve my singing voice?

You asked the question, and we have given an answer.  If you are really serious about improving your singing, then sign up with our email.  We shall alert you to each new blog post that you might be interested in.

If you like our approach and would like further study material, let us know.  We would like to work with you and help you achieve the goals you have for your singing.

You can email us at tom@tomharveybaritone.com

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