„From our pain levels to our self-confidence, our posture impacts more than we think“– Daniel Bubis
The postural system supports everything we do – standing, sitting at the computer, playing a musical instrument, singing, walking, and doing sports. Poor posture is known to be a major culprit in back problems that strike more than 80 percent of all Americans at some point in their lives (National Institute of health). In addition to back pain, headaches are also often rooted in incorrect neck and shoulder positions.
But what does singing have to do with your posture?
Every sound needs space to resonate to, be created, and be heard. Our voice can sound because it resonates in our vocal tract and cavities in our head and face area. Comparing the body of our instrument with a violin or a guitar shows a clear difference. While the shape of the wooden instruments can not be modified, our vocal tract changes its shape constantly. Bad posture, as well as good posture, can influence the sound quality of a sung tone.
Experiment: How posture affects your voice
Throughout the exercise, you have to talk and sing from different head positions and listen to your voice. Don’t judge or force a sound. Change the positions as mentioned below after each other.
- Talk or sing any line of text wherever your head is at now.
- Push your head forward so that your neck is in an extreme slouched position and sing the same line.
- Now over straighten your neck to the point your chin is tucking into your neck and sing the line.
Repeat this a couple of times and try to analyze how your sound is changing.
In step number 2 you may notice:
- A flat acoustic
- Limited vocal range
- A strong voice break – flipping into falsetto
In position at step number 3. you might experience an over-darkening of the tone. That’s because your larynx is being forced down by the tongue.
Here’s a quick check-in for the correct posture
When sitting, your feet should rest flat on the floor, with even weight on both hips. Your back should be mostly straight (you’ll have natural curves in your lumbar, thoracic, and cervical areas). Your shoulders should be back but relaxed and your ears should line up over your collarbones.
When standing, your legs should have a slight knee bend so you’re not hyperextending or locking your knee joints, says Kara Griffith, an exercise physiologist at Colorado Canyons Hospital & Medical Center.
Alexander Technique is a system designed to promote well-being by training one’s awareness and habits of posture to ensure minimum effort and strain.
Benefits of Alexander Technique
Practicing the Alexander technique reduces harmful habits of tension so that you can stand, sit, and move with more freedom, stability, and confidence.
The most common habit is poor posture, which might show noticeable effects. Over time, they can start to hinder or even severely restrict movements and the singing sound.
Inventor Frederick Alexander
The Alexander technique invented by Frederick Alexander gently reminds us of our original operating system. We learn to let go of the negative habits that are in our way. Frederick Alexander himself was an actor whose voice grew progressively hoarse over long periods of use.
After the doctors could not help him, he began to observe himself in mirrors. He noticed different patterns of movement that occurred before and during speaking and singing. In the course of his detailed self-observations, Alexander came to believe that unconscious behavioral patterns can permanently disrupt the healthy functioning of neuromuscular coordination, breathing, and subsequently, voice production.
Use of the technique
Today the technique is taught in many conservatories and schools to underline the importance of postural awareness in performing arts. It has shown that the method improves Mental and physical wellbeing and gives the sense of control over everything you do with your body and voice.
Alexander Technique is transferable over all sorts of areas in life, whether that’s auditioning, interviews, speeches, working at the computer, driving cars etc.
It is a simple method that has changed worlds for many, so might also be able to help you!
Check-in with your body often. “Awareness is essential to good posture. We get busy working at our computers or eating a good meal, and we compress into poor posture,” says Griffith. Post a note on your computer screen to remind you to get yourself in proper alignment.
(Oxford Languages Dictionary)