4 hints for singers to free your vocal brain.
My new students often tell me they have throat or neck tension; the more they sing the worse it gets. It nibbles away at their confidence till the only way out is to give up singing.
Have you ever felt like this yourself?
Tension has a way of creeping up on you! Without you recognizing it!
- You hold your breath or force your lungs to get longer phrases.
- You try singing louder…..
- You push your voice (perhaps this is the answer, you think).
- You try even harder to get a better sound.
- This leads to hidden tensions, unnoticeable even.
It starts at your neck level. It creeps to your shoulders; then you’re standing with stiff hips. It can affect even your feet.
Gradually it affects the quality of your singing and your tone.
Tips and benefits to freeing your vocal brain.
1. Know your body’s hidden tensions.
When you notice you’re tensing up its time to take action.
This leads to hidden tensions, unnoticeable even. Unnecessary and prolonged tension will slowly extend to every part of you. And finally to your voice. It starts at your neck level. It creeps to your shoulders; then to your hips and it can even affect your feet.
And eventually affects the quality of your voice; your tone.
Tip: take time to study yourself while you are doing your vocal training. Observe your whole body.
Notice the smallest clench. Be it in your jaw. Your rib cage. Your feet! Be open to the slightest stiffening.
Benefit: Being awake to your inner effort gives you the head start to preventing damage down the road.
2. Make conscious choices while you sing.
We live life largely by repeating how we did ‘it’ all last time, and so on. Automatic living means doing the same old, same old….. To break this cycle, to get a different result, make all your choices conscious.
Tip: Your head and neck house the essentials for your voice.
When you are singing are you straining your head forward to get more sound or to read the score? Instruct the delicate head/neck relationship to ease up so the resonance already and waiting can be free.
Benefit: A free neck leads to a free voice; the domino effect.
3. Pause a moment before you start to sing to get yourself into your easiest voice.
What singers often do is take a stance or a position which has become familiar over time in order to start singing.
We are told not to do this or that with our breath or not have our feet a certain way, or any number of instructions that can cloud the moment to start to sing.
It can be just an action or mannerism that has become normal.
There are any number of ways that we can become bound up in a certain position in ourselves e.g. holding the score itself can be fraught with tightening.
Tip: Give yourself a moment, a second or ten, to just stand.
-Momentarily forget you aim to sing.
-Perhaps cast a glance around you.
-Then and only then decide to raise the score.
Benefit: it is amazing how much you can stop stress from jumping into the well-known grooves. Of course it takes repetition to get this to work smoothly, but that does happen.
4. Balancing your weight to get more sound.
Your feet – your foundation. Using your platform economically.
Finding out that your balance is forward in the front of your feet means you are holding your ankles or calves rigidly.
Tip: Firstly notice how you stand while singing. Perceive where the weight is on your feet.
Then allow the balance to be both in the front of yourself as well as the back.
As one of my singing students remarked when looking at this way of seeing her true balance, “it’s like Canterbury Cathedral, balancing on its foundations, not the buttresses!”
Benefit: This will give more freedom with your voice. More freedom to breathe easily too!
To sum it up: letting your head, neck, shoulders and spine have relaxed support on your hips and feet will let you to sing more freely.
5. Adapt your postural support while singing.
“Sit up straight” or “Stand erect” you are told to get better posture.
Even though you have been told this with the best of intentions, this kind of advice can be lacking at best, harmful at worst.
“Good posture” comes with many misconceptions. Pulling ourselves up is short lived because we usually end up the same as always, collapsed.
It lasts for a short while and then we are back where we started.
Tip: Instead of making an effort to sit ‘up’ or stand ‘up’, tell yourself to just let the ground support your standing.
When standing make mental contact with your feet and the ground. Your feet are supported.
And in the case of sitting, as I heard it explained recently, “stand on your sit-bones’ and let the weight of your torso get support from the base.
In other words, when sitting: Imagine that you are “standing” on your sitting bones while your feet are supported by the ground.
Benefit: Your natural supportive frame will kick into action and provide the strong stage from which to express yourself, your natural and powerful voice and your breathing.
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