Of course, as in many things in life: the more you do, the easier it becomes. So, just as athletes diligently exercise to train for a competition, singers carefully prepare their bodies for a performance.
Why, you may ask?
Another fact: you use your entire body when you sing. People often make the mistake of thinking that singing only entails the use of the vocal folds. That is so far from the truth. Singing begins with posture; is fueled by the air we breathe; gains clarity with the use of almost every part of our bodies from the shoulder up. When you sing, YOU become the instrument.
Isn’t that grand?
What, then, does this mean? Singing is an art. It’s not magic, and it definitely is not instant brilliance. You may have been given the gift of singing but that won’t take you far unless you nurture it. Caring for your instrument – you — is most imperative. This means you have to know how your instrument works; and once you do, be dedicated to its upkeep. You need to be patient and persistent. You need to be a thinking singer.
So, let’s begin. Let’s learn how to sing.
Thinking singers start with posture. Check yourself, please.
Let’s tackle each one.
- Are both your feet planted steadily on the floor?
Both feet must be planted firmly on the floor. It all starts here. How can you keep your spine straight (the next step) if your stance is unbalanced?Many voice teachers and singers, and even theatre performers and dancers, attest to this: plant one foot slightly forward but keep the balance. Why? This enables your body to lean slightly forward, keeping your spine straight and relaxed. This also benefits you psychologically because leaning forward makes your energy flow forward where the audience usually is. It places you in the position of giving – and don’t singers ‘give’ themselves every time they perform?
- Is your spine straight?
Imagine ballerinas when they stand. They keep their spines erect, their shoulders down, BUT their chins tucked in. They were trained to imagine a cord pulling them up from the very top of their heads. Therefore, it is essential that you be vigilant in keeping your frame always upright.Another benefit of a straight spine is this: it helps your diaphragm do its job. Although the deal with this thing, the diaphragm, will be tackled further in my succeeding articles, this much I can say now: it acts as your natural girdle, supporting your lungs (among other things) as you sing (as well as giving you that hourglass figure).
- Are your shoulders relaxed?
You might be wondering why the shoulders get a double mention. This is why, and it’s a hard and fast rule: everything from the shoulders and above must be relaxed. If your shoulders are tense, then your neck gets tense. If your neck gets tense, then your jaw gets tense. If your jaw gets tense then – well, you get the picture. Everything in our body is connected to everything else so once you neglect one part of your body, the others also suffer.All this tension from the shoulders up is also a no-no because — where exactly are your vocal chords? Right. To put it plainly: somewhere in your neck. How can the little muscle do its job if its residence is stressed? It can’t.
So, there it is. Your first step unto the proper path of singing. Like I said, it is an unnatural act. Everything one does is deliberate and well-thought out. No magic here. No accidents or instances of chance. Now that you know how to achieve proper posture, constantly check yourself. It’s your body after all — no one else can do it for you. That is the thinking singer’s burden. But don’t be daunted. It is also what will lead you to excellence.