Singing and Good Posture: Making the Best of What You Have

My take on singing posture is different from what you’ll hear from other voice teachers. Many teachers and singing books will be very specific about your stance–instructing you to always stand with your knees slightly bent and your feet apart, with one foot slightly in front of the other. That’s an incredibly stable, and powerful position, and if you know you’ll always be performing in a classical concert setting, it’s the perfect way to stand. But let’s get real here: life doesn’t always hand you situations where you get to choose whether you’re sitting, standing, or doing backflips while singing, so let’s address those less-than-ideal times.

Say you know you’ll be performing 8 Broadway shows a week singing 75% of a showstopper sitting on a stool and the rest strolling around the stage; it would be crazy to not practice singing both sitting down and walking! If you’re able to sing your showstopper flawlessly standing up with one foot planted slightly in front of the other, good for you, but it won’t do you much good if your breath control goes to pot as soon as you take a seat or a step. If you need to perform while sitting, practice singing while sitting; if you’re performing a dance number while singing, practice the song and dance simultaneously. This doesn’t mean you can’t break it down and work on one thing at a time, but the end result should be your ability to sing the song and dance at the same time, not to sing with your legs hips-width apart and your knees slightly bent.

[h3]All that being said, here are some common posture suggestions that you should use whenever possible:[/h3]

Imagine that the top of your head has a string attached to it, as if you’re a puppet. The string is being pulled upward, elongating your neck and spine, as your shoulders and arms relax downward. What would that feel like? It should result in a relaxed but energized stance, with your neck and head straight and in line with your spine. Make sure you can freely turn your head back and forth. That should ensure you’re not tightening your neck muscles too much.

Gently open your ribcage to allow for more expansive breaths.

[h3 class=”” span=””]If you’re standing still[/h3]

Take a relaxed, neutral stance, with a micro bend in your knees. That is, don’t lock your knees. Keep them relaxed

Don’t sit back on your heels. You should have more weight in the balls of your feet to keep yourself energized, but make sure to not pitch too far forward

[h3 class=”” span=””]If you’re sitting[/h3]

Make sure you’re sitting on something that allows you to easily sit up straight–nothing with too many cushions. If you’re forced to sit on a couch for a stage production, see if you can swap out the cushions with something harder that you won’t sink into.

Continue to keep your upper body energized and in good alignment. You should essentially feel the same from the waist up as you do standing and singing. Position your sits bones to make contact with your seat, and make sure back isn’t rounding under you.

If possible, find a place for your feet to rest, so that your legs aren’t dangling. Better yet, if you can, keep a little weight on the balls of your feet, and position your legs so they’re hips width apart.

[h3 class=”” span=””]If you’re moving[/h3]

Moving and singing can be tricky for two reasons. The first is that you’re multitasking, and multitasking is hard. Remembering blocking or choreography while singing will always be harder than standing still and singing for the same reason it’s more difficult to play an instrument and sing. That being said, muscle memory goes a long way. You should know both your blocking and your song like you know the wall across from your toilet, and you shouldn’t be consciously thinking of a list of steps you have to take next.

The next reason singing and moving is tricky is because you run out of breath quicker than when you’re standing. Movement uses oxygen, and so does singing. Cardio workouts help expand lung capacity and breathing efficiency, so I recommend running, biking, and especially swimming for singers who have to move on a regular basis. It can also help to walk on a treadmill while singing to learn to stabilize your voice.

In general, there’s no hard fast rules for moving and singing, because it depends on what type of moving you’re doing. In general though, rehearsing Ad nauseam, staying relaxed, and staying upright go a long way.

 

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