A lot of people thinking singing happens entirely in the throat and mouth, but those in the know recognise singing is a full body activity. Good posture is a vital component in setting up a great singing voice. Without it, it’s like trying to play a guitar with a crooked neck or a piano with the keys stuck down – it just doesn’t work.
To set up your posture for proper singing, firstly stand with your feet about hip width apart. This enables your diaphragm to move freely and deeply and distributes your weight evenly. This means that both sides of your body are doing equal work and supporting your breath consistently. It’ll also mean you don’t have to shift around a lot, throwing your balance and support off.
Your arms should hang loosely by your sides. It’s important to not tense up and your arms are a great indicator of unusual tension.
Keep your head level and comfortable. A lot of singers tilt their head up, believing it helps air flow but it actually creates undue tension in your throat. Your throat is naturally designed to sing, you don’t need to change it too much.
Now we’ve set up properly, let’s dig into why we do this.
There are three abilities a singer will need to develop:
1. The ability to fill one’s lungs fully.
2. The ability to catch a breath in a short pause.
3. The ability to regulate the flow of air leaving the lungs.
Breathing well may seem like an unusual skill to develop, shouldn’t it be natural? For many people, it is but throughout life, a lot of us develop bad habits. We let our posture slip and hunch ourselves over, we compress our spines by sitting down all day.
Natural breathing should mean the chest rises and falls easily and evenly. However, we often hear the advice to “breath from the diaphragm”, although many of us don’t really understand what this means. The diaphragm is a band of muscle connected to the bottom of our lungs that draws our lungs downwards. As this happens our intercostal muscles (the muscle between our ribs) pull the ribs outwards to enable our lungs to expand. It’s important to note that the diaphragm does not fill our lungs, instead it controls the speed which we inhale. By focusing on the diaphragm we ensure we take a slow, measured breath when we need to and a short, slight breath when we find space in a song.
As with all muscles, we can increase our control of the intercostal muscles and diaphragm by training them, in this case through singing practice.
However, all this can’t happen freely if our posture isn’t correct. Imbalances can tire us our and force us to push our voice harder, injuring our throats in the process, and compression from slouching stops the breathing process from drawing deep. By fixing our posture, we ensure a proper supported, deep and powerful breath which fuels everything else.