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Improve Your Voice With Singing Posture
 
by Ashley Detig

Many people are aware of the negative effects of poor posture. Poor posture has been known to cause difficulties in several major body systems. However, the negative effects of poor posture extend far beyond the usual physiological symptom. As a vocalist, singing posture can have a profound effect on the quality and tone of your voice.

Proper singing posture is a fundamental aspect of singing that takes conscious effort to correct. It can be very difficult for some vocalists because unlike other singing exercises and techniques, developing proper singing posture requires one to practice the skill outside of normal vocal practices or performances.

Singing posture is ESSENTIAL to a high quality voice for a number of reasons. When you do not practice proper posture, the chest cavity is compressed putting pressure on the diaphragm and restricting the chest from expanding. When the chest cavity cannot fully expand, the breath is forced to remain in the upper chest cavity causing a "shallow breath," and limiting a vocalist from accessing the maximum amount of breath support. Improper posture can also hinder a vocalist's projection. When one is "slouched" or misaligned while singing, their voice is being projected at a downward angle causing the sound waves to move directly toward the floor, where they can be refracted and distorted.

In order for one to acquire and RETAIN proper singing posture one must often retrain the muscles of the back, chest, shoulders, and neck to proper alignment. This is not a task for the light of heart. Maintaining proper posture in every day activities and environments can be very difficult. Most environments do not promote proper posture and it is very easy to slip out of proper alignment without being aware of it.

There are different ways to assess whether you are practicing proper singing posture. One way is to stand barefoot on a flat surface in the "anatomical position." This means that you are standing with your feet flat, arms to your sides, with your palms facing forward. Rise slowly up on to the tip of your toes and feel your back slightly arch and your shoulders move back. Try to retain this feeling as you gently lower yourself back down to your heels. This is proper singing posture

This position may feel unnatural at first. That is because a previous habit of poor posture trains and strengthens the muscles to be more inclined to that position. Attaining singing posture requires one to retain the muscles of the back and shoulders to be more inclined toward proper posture than to "slouching." This can take conscious effort. It requires one to assess his current habits and be aware of how he sits and stands on a regular basis. For some people, this awareness is all that is needed to reverse poor posture habits. However, for many vocalists, it not only requires constant awareness, but a tiny time investment into muscular exercises.

One very effective back exercise can be done by anyone, almost anywhere, to improve singing posture. It is a very simple way to retrain the back and shoulder muscles. To perform this exercise you may either be sitting or standing. Perform the posture assessment explained above to ensure that you are properly aligned before beginning this exercise. When you are properly aligned "pinch" your shoulder blades together in a downward motion as though you were trying to hold a tennis ball between your shoulder blades. Hold this position for a count of 3-5 seconds or whatever you are comfortable with, relax, and then repeat for 5-10 repetitions. This exercise, though simple, activates muscles in your back and shoulders which are necessary in holding proper singing posture.

Proper posture and alignment is beneficial for the better health and well-being of everyone, but especially for those who desire to learn how to improve singing. There are many facets involved in developing a strong, quality voice, and singing posture is a fundamental part of that development.

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