Singing Posture

Singing Posture

Why is the singing posture so important?

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The good posture of the singer is extremely important and defining for beautiful and healthy singing. It is also related to healthy and effective breathing. Breathing and how we use the air flow in the singing process define what the tone quality will be. So, it’s very important to work on our singing posture in case we want to be professional singers.

When we get into any posture, no matter if we stand, sit or lay, there are always muscles in our body that support it. If the posture is correct, the right muscle groups are activated, the spine is straight and supports the body, the diaphragm can function effectively and help fill the lungs with air, the trachea is freed so that air can pass through without obstructing its path when inhaling and exhaling, the muscles of the face are relaxed, as well as the larynx, chest, neck and shoulders.

However, if our posture is incorrect, the wrong muscle groups are activated and the support is on the wrong place.
All this negatively affects our singing and also leads to fatigue, loss of voice quality, as well as health problems with the vocal cords in time. It also prevents you from expanding your vocal range and making smooth transition between vocal registers. In this case we can’t use the full potential of our voice no matter what style of music we perform.

Is posture the same in different musical styles?

Good singing posture is the most important component no matter what musical style we perform. As singers we have to always look for a freely and flawless singing process and work hard to achieve it. We must know that we can always become better singers, we can improve our breathing, sound quality, sing more healthy, keep our voice fresh and be in a great singing shape for as long as possible.  

Of course, every musical style has its own specifics and in order to sound authentically and fit in it, we have to change many things, such as: the way we use the air flow, the position of the larynx, the way we use our muscles and our vocal resonators, etc. 

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The classical singing requires different placement than the one used in pop and jazz or Bulgarian folk singing for example. Classical singers are focused on their head register and this requires them to find the best placement to perform the style with ease. For the classical singing’s placement the well known Bulgarian vocal educator and composer Georgi Zlatev – Cherkin (1905 – 1977) says:

“In the process of training, the level of the larynx is gradually fixed in a certain optimal working level, corresponding to the character and individual natural qualities of the voice. Of primary importance in balancing all vocals throughout the voice range is precisely the determination of the exact level of the larynx during work, because the quality of the emission depends on it. From a technical point of view, this is perhaps the most difficult moment, since the position of the larynx in singing is not identical to that of speaking.”

The vocal placement that Georgi Zlatev – Cherkin describes is the most common one, but nowadays there are lots of teachers and singers who experiment and use a different one such as singing with a neutral larynx position, etc.

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Pop and jazz singers look for a vocal placement the same as the speaking voice. This requires relaxed and neutral larynx position. Most vocal teachers today divide the registers used in pop and jazz singing into three main ones: chest, middle and head (includes falsetto in males).

In Bulgarian folk singing, most of the singers use a completely different sound extraction and focus primarily on their chest register. But because there are no certain rules in this musical style, we can also hear some singers using mainly their head register and not using the chest one at all.

Folk singers used to believe they were born with their specific vocal sound, placement and sound extraction. Depending on their posture in life, they used a specific sound extraction, characteristic only for them, and later, when they became professional singers, everyone recognized them by their specific way of singing and ornamentation. 

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Nowadays, some of the teachers and singers still singing and teaching complying with this method . The only problem with it is that many of the singers perform this style having very poor singing posture and this leads to many health problems and loss of voice over time. However, there are also many performers and teachers who are interested in other popular styles, borrow from them and pay more attention to their singing posture and breathing. This leads to a much healthier singing process and development of the vocal placement in Bulgarian folk singing in a positive direction. 

The best thing we can do in case to find the best posture and sing healthy no matter what musical style we perform, is to understand how the human voice actually works in different musical styles and go deep into the anatomy of the voice. This will help us better understand posture and why it is so important in singing. This will help us stay healthy and maintain the best qualities of our voice over the years. 

What are the common reasons we have bad posture nowadays?

Unfortunately, in the digital world we all live in, bad posture has become commonplace. There are many reasons for this, but I will pay attention to the most common ones. Very often in our daily lives, for a number of reasons, we get used to stay in certain ways and build bad habits over time.

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For example one of the reasons we have similar problems today is because we all use smartphones or tablets and stay in front of the screen everyday for a long time. When we do so, we slowly change our posture and don’t even realize it. This is because the phone makes us look down all the time and tires the supporting body muscles. We don’t let them rest when they need to and overload them. Any physical activity is also absent. All this forces the body to change the muscles who support it with other ones to withstand the fatigue and strain. Doing this every day for a long period of time and not paying attention to it, little by little leads to poor posture. 

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Another common problem is prolonged standing behind a desk at work or at school and the lack of physical activity. Sometimes this can tire our back and it’s important for us to get up, move around, and stretch at regular intervals. Very often this movement is missing when we have a lot of work or have to stay for many hours at school. This makes some muscles lazy and makes them relax for rest, the wrong muscles start supporting the body and eventually we end up with a bad posture. Similar problem can also be caused by prolonged standing in an uncomfortable chair or sitting at a desk that is too low or too high. It is important that the desk is at a comfortable level for us so we can look ahead with a straight head and spine.

How to know if we have a bad posture?

Good posture is an important part of our long-term health. No matter if we’re singers or not, we have to always pay attention to it. Unfortunately sometimes we don’t know if our posture is bad or not because we are so much used to live with it. So, if we often feel pain somewhere our your body or notice that we have a recurring headache, it’s a very good idea to visit аn orthopedist or a kinesitherapist who can help us to find out if the reason for this is our bad posture. As a singer we can also find a good vocal couch who will notice it right away and help us improve it with some exercises and hard work over time. 

The main components of correct singing posture are:

  • Head facing straight forward
  • Shoulders relaxed – down and back
  • Larynx and pharynx are relaxed
  • Chest is in high position and relaxed
  • Diaphragm is relaxed, abdomen flat
  • Spine is straight
  • Feet slightly apart
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We must periodically check these components while standing or sitting on a chair and pay attention if any tension has appeared in our body. We can also test them when we try to lean our back against the wall and see if we feel comfortable staying that way or if we need to change a lot in our body to do so. It’s also important to notice if we have some vocal problems after singing or lose the quality of our voice after a concert. If we do so, we definitely need to work on improving our singing posture.

Maintaining a good posture nowadays is sometimes a challenge but it’s important to realize how important it is for our health and good singing. Only when we do so, we can become a great, confident and professional singers.