The Proud Posture

Your posture is so important to the production of your voice and makes such a difference to your tone, stamina and range, that it is surprising that most singers are never taught the fundimentals of good posture.

The Italian School of Bel Canto realised that good singing needed good posture and good breathe control and that these two elements work together to produce a good voice. Many singers struggle to achieve adequate breath control because their posture is poor and consequently the breath lacks control.

Put simply, the relationship between the breath and posture is this: the breath supports and strengthens the posture and the posture places and controls the breath.

The proud posture is good alignment of the head, neck and back, stabilised by the pelvis, legs and feet. It enables you to achieve an effective technique with an economy of effort. Your vocal range will be bigger and your stamina greater. Your intonation will be more secure and it won't be long before you progress to more advanced work with confidence.

First exercise for the proud posture.

Stand erect with your feet about a hip's width apart. Breathe in deeply and quietly and feel the rib cage rise and expand. Notice that the breath strengthens and supports the posture. In turn the stabilised posture prevents the breath from escaping. This is the basis of appoggiobreathing technique. The shoulders are relaxed and held a little higher, not because you have pulled them up, but because they sit bouyantly on the air-filled chest. The muscles of the abdominal wall should be allowed to expand as the air comes lower into the body.

Lift both arms up above your head, keeping the arms straight. The palms of the hands can be allowed to open so that they facing the ceiling. Press each palm in turn up to the ceiling and do this eight times. You will feel the back elongate and the chest, shoulders, neck and head rise towards the ceiling. You are in effect becoming a little taller. Enjoy the stretch.

Having stretched and lengthened your back, you will feel more space between the lowest ribs and the crest of the pelvic girdle. Breathe into that space, deeply and quietly. Let the breathe support the posture and realise that the posture supports the breath. As long as you do not allow the rib cage to collapse, the breath you have cannot go anywhere.

Now breathe out. Do not allow the spine to shorten and do not allow the shoulders to drop. Rather let the abdominal muscles, below the rib cage, shorten and drive the air out.

Let the hands and arms come down, but do not drop the shoulders or the chest.

Perform this exercise three times.

Second exercise for the proud posture.

Stand erect with your feet about a hip's width apart. Breathe in deeply and quietly and feel the rib cage rise and expand. The shoulders are relaxed and held a little higher, not because you have pulled them up, but because they sit bouyantly on the air-filled chest. The muscles of the abdominal wall should be allowed to expand as the air comes lower into the body.

Interlace your fingers (as though in prayer) and place the palms of your hands on your head. Rotate the wrists so that the palms of your hands face the ceiling and the knuckles of your hands are on your head.

Gently walk each hand up toward the ceiling until the arms and elbows are locked straight. Let the head and the neck lengthen, strengthen and follow the palms of the hands upwards.

Having stretched and lengthened your back, you will feel more space between the lowest ribs and the crest of the pelvic girdle. Breathe into that space, deeply and quietly. Let the breathe support the posture and realise that the posture supports the breath. As long as you do not allow the rib cage to collapse, the breath you have cannot go anywhere.

Now breathe out. Do not allow the spine to shorten and do not allow the shoulders to drop. Rather let the abdominal muscles, below the rib cage, shorten and drive the air out.

Let the hands and arms come down, but do not drop the shoulders or the chest.

Perform this exercise three times.

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Copyright © 2014 Jonathan Jessop.