Category: Posture

Lift hands for better posture

Lift Your Hands

Nick discovered that his voice tone improves when he lifts his hands above his head. Why is that? Well, read on and I’ll tell you.

Your Question

I have a question regarding the resonance of the voice. When I am raising my arms above my head (e.g. like when I prepare to dive in a swimming pool) my voice becomes very clear with a full resonant sound with easy high notes. When I bring my hands back to normal my voice is not so clear and I push for high notes. What is happening when I raised my arms? How can I achieve the same vocal result with arms in normal position?

My Answer

What a great question, Nick. Without seeing/hearing a video of what you describe I will take a stab at what I think is happening. Basically, lifting the arms all but guarantees efficient posture and breathing, which in turn set the stage for good tone and easy access to the upper register.

I use this position with students regularly to help them build muscle memory. The other concept I use is to find a tray or similar prop. Then, imagine you are serving a very formal meal and holding a tray of very high end food. You should have almost the same posture as with lifted arms. Elbows will be out to the sides and the thoracic cavity (chest/ribs) will be still and wonderfully expanded.

I have one student who is a competitive table tennis player. I have him squat as if about to receive a serve. Again, he is in an athletic, alert balanced position even though bent from the waist.

Hope this gives you some ideas. Let me know if this helps. I’m curious. And if you’d like to confirm my suspicion, a quick Vocal Coach Voice Assessment would let me see you and, well, assess the situation.

Anyone else have any tricks to force your body into proper posture? Let me know in the comments.

Sitting and Singing

One Simple Principle for Singing in Any Position

How does a singer keep good posture and tone while playing guitar? What about while sitting. One simple principle allies in every situation to keep your body properly aligned for a clear, resonant vocal sound.

Your Question

Hi, I´m from S.Paulo Brazil, congratulations, I loved Complete Breathing, Expanding, and Warm-Up. They helped me a lot, thank you very much! I have a question. Since all exercises are done standing up, is there any problem, singing seated while playing the acoustic guitar? Is there a lack of voice quality?

My Answer

Great question! The good news is that sitting is not a problem at all. After all, guitarists and pianists sit and opera and Broadway singers are in every position imaginable and they all have to have maximum control of their voices. The key principle for you, as a guitarist, is this:

Always Be “Standing” From the Waist Up

Most of the time, you should be able draw an imaginary straight line from the hips to the shoulders and on to the ears. You can tilt in any direction and have lots of movement, but you want to avoid sticking the head out, lifting the chin for high notes, or collapsing the chest. If you keep those techniques happening you’ll have no problem.

All that being said, you should do the Vocal Coach exercises sitting, standing, walking around, and even sitting at a table or driving. Using the voice well has nothing to do with stiff or formal postures. I has to do with alignment.

Singing to the Back Row

This weeks question comes from Eli, who is wondering about the concept of “singing to the balcony” and how that might affect a singer’s posture. Naturally, I have some thoughts on that. Read on to see what they are.

Your Question

Chris, In your teaching about singing posture, you teach that the back of the neck should feel longer while the front of the neck should feel shorter. Lately I’ve read and have watched operatic tenors who do the opposite. Italian tenors, in particular, seem to raise the front of their necks (chins) upward, particularly when singing high notes. I heard some other operatic singers say to always sing to the second balcony which would mean raising the chin upward. What’s your opinion of their thoughts? Thank you very much.

My Answer

Thanks so much for your thoughtful question, Eli. Here are my thoughts:

Operatic singers can afford to be a bit stiffer than pop or Broadway singers. But, even so, lifting the head for higher notes and lowering it for lower notes doesn’t offer any physiological benefit. In fact, in my studies, it interferes. But more to the point, here is what I teach. And in considering my answer please remember that my background includes extensive classical experience in many languages as well as in oratorio and opera. Carole and I have traveled the world as I taught and sang. Admittedly, however, I do live more in the contemporary world these days. So…

  1. The “Long back of neck and shorter front of neck” is intended to prevent the Goose-necking that so many singers do. They stick the chin out (forward) and up—inhibiting air flow and a free larynx. By eliminating this dangerous position it opens the doors to complete freedom. When the head is balanced back over the shoulders it can ultimately be rotated up, down, left or right still with complete “freedom.”
  2. Tying a fixed posture to a certain range is limiting.
  3. The best opera singers I know can sing the same note looking at the sky or the floor and still get the job done.
  4. “Sing to the 2nd balcony” is the same concept as “sing to the guy in the last row.” That’s fine as long as you don’t push, unnaturally, or skip connecting with row 1 and all the way back. The idea is to get singers to think out beyond themselves, which I get, but the fact is we need to connect to every person from row 1 to 99. Every row needs to feel we are looking at and singing to them. And to that end, I include performance coaching as integral to any complete voice training.

There is a lot of information out there about how to sing. Sometimes it conflicts, and then sometimes it seems to conflict, but actually doesn’t. This is a case of the latter where on the surface, “Singing to the Back Row” seems to be addressing Posture, but is really a performance issue. If any of you get some confusing information on your journey to become a better singer, I’d be glad to clear it up for you. Just ask!


Physical Exercise for Your Voice – Ask the Vocal Coach

I received this question from Ndumiso. I don’t hear this question too often, but it is something you should not overlook. Your physical wellness definitely has an impact on your voice. Read on for more.

Your Question

What are physical exercises need to be done for voice training, I mean exercises like push-ups and sit-ups or other kinds of exercises?

My Answer

Thank you for your good question. As a matter of fact, any good, general conditioning exercises are great for your voice, both aerobic and strength training—in sensible moderation, of course. Especially important for singers are core strengthening exercises such as the Superman combined with sit-ups (antagonistic balance) to help with posture.

Balance exercises such as standing on one foot or up on toes are also helpful for posture/balance. The only things I have seen become problematic are excessive weight training with the accompanying, excessive sub glottal pressure in the throat. I have also seen “six pack abs” that are so tight they can’t release for normal breathing. For most of us, however, that’s not likely to be a risk and we’re lucky just to stay generally, physically fit.

Keeping physically fit is vital to every aspect of life, and singing is no different. I encourage you, if you are spending time improving your voice, don’t overlook good general fitness. Feeling good and standing strait are as important to a good tone as anything!