Your Body is Your Instrument:
7 ways to use your body more in singing.
THE SOFT PALATE
Does your higher register sound too airy? Even when you’re really engaging your belly muscles? The reason why is…your placement is off. When notes are really high, they get their strong resonant quality from the soft palate. Okay so back to basics, the roof of your mouth is your hard palate and just behind it, in the back of your mouth is your soft palate. Here, we want to lift the soft palate. But how do we lift the soft palate? Easy, the same way we do when we go to yawn. When we yawn, our soft palate lifts, just as it does when we sing rounded open vowels. By lifting our soft palate, we can ensure the sound is more resonant and strong, even the higher register.
Before you even start singing, you want to warm up your body so that you don’t get any tension. Ditching tension will stop you from moving your breath around your body, and to ensure you get full resonance. Great ways to ease tension include stretching the neck and even the tongue as well as the legs. Your legs are your power as they support your whole upper torso, with your diaphragm and core, the power to the voice.
It’s impossible to directly control the diaphragm. The diaphragm sits below the lungs, you’re probably wondering why singing teachers and yoga instructor’s harp on about the diaphragm. It’s not exactly the diaphragm, but the muscles that control and connected to the diaphragm. By engaging those lower belly muscles, you can control the strength of your notes.
It’s important to maintain good posture when singing, as it affects the overall sound you produce with your voice. Bending the knees can often open the voice and reduce tension. It’s important not to lock the knees or bend them, but to maintain a simple open position. You can bend as you inhale, then keep them in an open position. Locked knees also lock up the lower back, which disrupts inhalation. Keep those knees open to help encourage good inhalation.
It’s really important that to allow our breath to pass through our body with ease. In order to create beautifully toned, round open vowels, we need good posture. We should be standing up straight, with our chin tucked in just a little, and head pointed straight. Shoulders should always be placed back. Ultimately, our main goal is to have an open body. Just like holding a drumstick, if we held it, really tight, the sound the stick would make with the drum would be constricted, and lose it’s resonance. Same with the body. If we tense our neck, shoulders, jaw and lock our knees, our voice will not easily pass through our body and the notes would be strained and constricted.
It’s very common for you to want to tilt your chin up when you reach for a high note, or tilt your chin down into your neck when you go to hit a low note. This usually is our brain telling us to get physically higher or lower to reach a note, but unfortunately, it actually makes it harder to hit that note. Tilting our chin up or down can actually restrict the airflow, which results in extra strain. It can often lead to cracking on high notes and make it quite difficult to transition in a melody. So just beware of keeping the chin nice and straight to help sing difficult passages with ease.
NECK & HEAD
One thing to watch out for is keeping our head straight when singing. Sometimes, unconsciously we can tilt our head to the side, which can cause added strain and tension in our singing voice. Some singers are so unaware of it, they will continue to tilt their head over even after reminders. Here’s a sneaky trick to help break the habit: find a small soft plush toy, to balance on your head as you sing. It will stop you from moving your chin and tilting your head over and placing added strain onto your body. Once you can successfully sing a whole song with a soft plush toy balanced on your head without it falling off, you’ve most likely broken the habit now.