The Plight of Posture Part I

Updated: Mar 1, 2019

Posture: the singer’s foundation upon which brilliance is built. I have found myself discussing this in so much detail with my students lately, and I’ve also done it at length with my choristers in the past, so I figure this is a post that could be helpful to singers from many walks of life. This is a mighty big topic, folks and this post can only merely graze the surface of all that goes into it in theory and in practice. So with that in mind, I’ve broken my ramblings into two parts, the second of which will be coming at you sometime next week! So, here we go!

Anyone who’s ever sung in a choir or taken even one private singing lesson can likely ramble off or demonstrate the main points we all know:

Stand up straight

Shoulders back

Arms by your side

Don’t lock your knees

Stand on two feet

It’s as easy as that right? Well… yes and no.

Yes, because by fulfilling that list we will likely give the appearance of “proper” singing technique with no distracting habits and it makes a group of singers look uniform. It is an excellent starting point, particularly coming from teachers and directors addressing a large group of singers who have a million things to get done in a 45 minute rehearsal! (I totally understand) That said, in my experience, this list isn’t anywhere near comprehensive enough and often leads to a great deal of tension and strain which are a singer’s nemeses! Who here has ever worked so hard to be a “good” chorister and hit all of these points and they are ready to drop at the end of a ten minute concert? I’m sure many can relate (my younger self included). So what do we need to do to have “good” singing posture and avoid being ready to pass out after a performance? Read on, music lover.

I recently stumbled upon another singing teacher, Sarah Whitten, who also teaches yoga and is so incredibly knowledgeable about the body and how to best use it as a singer. (Afterall, it is our instrument! We need to know how to play it, right?) I am now obsessed with her blog that goes much more in depth than I am able to do here, but if this is something you’d really like to know more about, I really encourage you to check out her posts...and if you’re one of my students reading this- I request that you do! She breaks down all of the body parts in many different blog posts and explains so well why alignment is more important than posture. You’ll notice above I’ve used quotation marks with “good” and “proper” singing posture. That’s because singers need to stop thinking about it as a posture. The mere idea of forming your body into a desired shape will automatically cause muscles to tense which will only present more problems for us. It is more about putting your body in alignment the way you are built rather than following a set of rules to fit a mold. And this alignment could be different for every singer. It all just depends on the curves in your spine and what you as an individual need to do to maximize your breathing space within your own skeletal shape.

In college and university I was given the opportunity to get an introduction to the Alexander Technique. I’m sure no expert, but the best thing I took away from these workshops was learning that your body is so perfectly made that your skeleton will stack itself bone on top of the other with no muscle tension that will give you the absolute maximum breathing potential, which leads to maximum vocal production! Say what?! We can sing, have awesome alignment, be in total control of our breathing AND be totally free of tension and fatigue?! Yes!

Now the question I know you’ve all been thinking : How? Well the easy answer is to start working with a knowledgeable singing teacher if this is something that is important or interesting to you. They have the outside eye to help you make adjustments in your alignment to help you maximize your breathing potential without straining. That said, I do have my own alignment checklist I use with my students that I am happy to share with everyone on next week’s post! So stay tuned singer friends!

Until then, Find Your Voice and Let It Sing! See you soon!

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