How Proper Posture Improves Singing

Stradivari violins are known for their unsurpassed craftsmanship and quality of sound. The process of creating one involves carving the wood so that the violin is thickest in the center. This shape has proven to give the violin a beautiful sound. The same time and energy is spent in the design and creation of all great instruments.

As a singer, your body is the instrument. Just like carving a violin, you can change the shape of your body in a way that improves tone quality. No surgery is involved; all you have to do is learn how to have good posture.

How Posture Affects Breath Support

  • Increases Breath Capacity: The goal of good posture is to create the largest space possible in your chest cavity so your lungs can expand fully. With more air, you are able to sing longer phrases.
  • Helps You Breath Low: Learning to breathe low while standing up can be a challenge. Luckily there is a relatively simple solution; keep your chest up. Because your chest rises and falls when breathing high, keeping the chest up forces the body to take a low, diaphragmatic breath perfect for singing.
  • Gets You to the End of a Phrase: When there is only a small amount of air left in the lungs, the rib cage and chest prepare to collapse in order to let the last bit of air gush out. Singers fight that urge, keeping the chest high and rib cage expanded. Doing so allows you to release the breath slowly so that you can get to the ends of phrases without sounding like you are running out of air.

How Posture Affects Your Body

  • Helps Release Tension: You’ll find that by focusing on aligning your ears with your shoulders, your higher notes will sound free and be easier to hit. That is because a properly aligned frame encourages your entire body to relax. The same is true for lower note.
  • Allows Air to Flow Freely Through Vocal Cords: Your vocal cords vibrate by allowing air to flow through them causing them to open and shut. A long, straight neck opens up the space that houses your vocal cords and allows air to progress unobstructed through the vocal cords.

What if Good Posture Makes My Body Tense?

There may be a short transition phase when correct posture feels unnatural. For instance, you may not feel comfortable straightening and lengthening the neck the first time you try it. If by doing so you release tension in other parts of the body, then it is well worth the effort to make proper posture feel natural.

On the other hand, you may over correct a slumped stance and cause additional problems. A neck that is too far back or a chest too high causes tension. Be careful not to overdo it while you practice correct singing posture.

Why Do Some Singers Sound Good Without Proper Posture?

Any opera or musical theater singer knows the importance of singing beautifully while moving. It may seem impossible to have good posture while leaning on a prop. But even while leaning, you can align your ears with your shoulders and keep the chest high.

The Alexander Technique is a tool singers can learn for maintaining good posture while moving. The technique teaches you to use deep postural muscles rather than actively engaging superficial muscles. The best way to learn the Alexander Technique is to hire a certified therapist. You will learn to move with the least amount of effort, so you can save your energy for singing.

A great way to find how you should be holding yourself while singing is to lay on your back on a flat surface such as your kitchen floor. Looking directly straight upwards at the ceiling above you your body should be at its correct posture. Try singing your favorite song this way and see how much of a change there is in your breath as well as the sound of your voice. Amazing what just a little bit of proper posture can do.

What you put into your body affects your voice.

There are plenty of foods and chemicals such as mouthwash that are good for us, however they aren’t always good for your voice! Take a look at this small list of things you should avoid in order to maintain a healthy throat & voice.

  • Spicy & Fried foods. Spicy foods can cause stomach acid to move into the throat or esophagus (reflux).
  • Caffeine & Alcoholic beverages. These act as diuretics (substances that increase urination) and cause the body to lose water. This loss of fluids dries out the voice. Alcohol also irritates the mucous membranes that line the throat.
  • Mouthwash or Gargles. These contain alcohol or irritating chemicals. If you still wish to use a mouthwash that contains alcohol, limit your use to oral rinsing. If gargling is necessary, use a salt water solution. And don’t forget that Halitosis (bad breath) may be the result of a problem that mouthwash can’t cure, such as low grade infections in the nose, sinuses, tonsils, gums, or lungs, as well as from gastric reflux from the stomach.
  • Dairy products. While dairy does not harm the voice it does stimulate mucus production in the throat and sinuses, which muffles or distorts the voice. They should not be consumed in the two hours prior to singing. Some people are especially sensitive to dairy, especially asthmatics.

So, take care of what you have by drinking plenty of water, making sure you’re providing your body with the proper vitamins daily & try something a little less harmful next time you reach for one of the things above!

Your style; Your tone!

So many people avoid improving their tone & mechanical skills because they claim that it is their style. While it is true that certain things a singer does, shape of their mouth, how they pronounce words, etc., contributes to their signature voice… improving how you create your tone will only make your signature voice better. Don’t back away from understanding your voice; learn all you can about your instrument in order to create your best sound.

The show must go on!

Sometimes we can’t help but let our emotions and personal life circumstances affect our performances. We are human, after all. However, with practice and meditation you can learn to clear you head and totally focus on connecting with your song and the appropriate emotions of your selection, instead of whatever else was distracting you. Your body language and expression communicate your focus…but it’s your eyes that communicate your thoughts most of all.

Pay attention to how you speak.

Performers who have good singing habits can cause damage when they speak. Many skilled singers don’t continue their healthy habits when they speak; indeed, many people including singers should have much more breath flow when they speak.

Keep your throat and neck muscles relaxed

Even when singing high notes and low notes. Some singers tilt their heads up when singing high notes and down when singing low notes. The high notes are on the ceiling and the low notes are on the floor and over time, you’ll pay for that. Not just with strained vocal muscles but also by causing future limits on the vocal range.

Warming up your voice is an everyday must!

Think of it like stretching and loosening up before exercise. Here are 5 super easy, daily warm-ups for your voice:

  1. Do lip or tongue trills in the morning (try it in the shower or on your drive to work) to facilitate better use of airflow and breath.
  2. Perform gentle humming and cooing to warm up your voice in the morning.
  3. If you do more vocally complex warm-ups too, such as vocal scales, do the simple warm-ups first.
  4. Repeat these exercises throughout the day to reduce muscular tension in the neck, shoulders and jaw.
  5. At the end of the day, perform a cool-down of the voice with similar vocal tasks.

Back into phrases.

A great way to improve your technique is to work the phrases backward. No, I’m not telling you to sing the song backward — just work from the last phrase then add the preceding phrases.

Sing the last few measures of a song until your phrasing is solid. Once you’re able to do that easily, add on a few more preceding measures. For example your lyrics are, “We can’t go on together with suspicious minds.”

  1. First, practice the last part of the phrase, “with suspicious minds.”
  2. When that  last half of the phrase sounds good, work through “We can’t go on together with suspicious minds”

Use your hands, not your neck.

Avoid cradling the phone between your neck and shoulder when talking. Holding the phone like this for an extended period of time can cause tension in the neck, which then has an effect on your vocal chords and throat.

Moderate voice use when sick.

Reduce your vocal demands as much as possible when your voice is hoarse due to excessive use or an upper respiratory infection (cold). Singers should exhibit extra caution if one’s speaking voice is hoarse because permanent and serious injury to the vocal cords are more likely when the vocal cords are swollen or irritated. It is important to listen to what your voice is telling you.