Posts Tagged ‘posture’

Aging and singing

May 16, 2009

As people age, they seem to lose some of their singing tonal qualities and pitch range.   Why?

Athletes need muscles, which is prime in the mid 20s, so we can understand why athletes tend to be in their prime in the 20s.   But is this true for singers?  The amount of athleticism involved in singing is miniscule.

Singing is more akin to acting–very little athleticism to accomplish a goal.  The youthful muscles might not be key; emotional maturity makes a big difference in acting, as well as in singing.

Drinking, smoking, acid reflux–yes, these will all degrade the voice, possibly permanently.   But, suppose someone didn’t do any of these, why can’t he or she sustain a lifelong great voice, as good as younger and possibly better?

VocalPosture.com speculates that this is somewhat possible.  All that a voice is is a vocal tract in action.   As long as the tonicity of the muscles in the vocal tract is intact, there is no reason why an older vocal tract can’t produce sounds as well as an younger one.

VocalPosture.com speculates that it is primarily due to a process called shortening of the muscles due to aging and injury that the vocal tract muscle tone is thus degraded.  

Thus, to reverse much of the effects of aging, as it relates to the voice, the objectives are:   to keep posture aligned so that shortening is reduced; to then stretch what has shortened

Feet

May 16, 2009

Fixing your posture starts at your feet. Very few people are completely symetrical, so the first question is is one side of your body taller than the other? If so, you may want to wear lifts on one side to balance. The new type of gel shoe lifts can be purchased economically, and simply inserted into the shoes.

Sandals are difficult to handle–Croc sandles work well here, because they have an edge that will help hold the gel insert.

Emotions, posture, and microexpressions

May 13, 2009

I agree, Judy, posture and emotions are interrelated. This is why in meditation there is such an emphasis on a straight spine–because a straight spine gently pulls all the tensed and loose muscles into alignment. This is also why yoga has pose and counterpose. The objectives of both of these practices are to reach a spiritual level where the “soul” isn’t affected by the emotions. In modern terms, we can think of this as “detensing” the muscles to achieve mental and emotional flexibility and stability.

There was a U. of Chicago scientist Eugene Gindlin (sp?) who wrote a book titled “Focusing”, which described a term now known as “microexpressions”? These are subconscious emotions, usually not visible to outsiders, that express true emotions. This gives a clue as to how emotions work–they are bound up with the muscles.

Thus, I’m suggesting, unless suppressed microexpression emotions are gotten rid of, it is very difficult to sing the songs that the feel is counter to the emotions. It is possible though to sing songs that the feel is consistent with these emotions–this can also be a form of sublimation.

Microexpression emotions cannot be gotten rid of by forcibly getting one into good posture–it takes a long time to get rid of these emotional muscular miniscule tensions.

Anyhow, these ideas are being blogged in my VocalPosture.com website.

The upper front chest

May 12, 2009

In addition to straightening the spine from the back, the upper front chest has to be pulled up. This also pulls up the rib cage. The result is better lows and the head also better balanced–for better highs.   The side of throat muscles need to be released of tension as well.

questions to ask about posture

May 10, 2009

Additionally, I’d like to ask how is it that the posture isn’t naturally good? And why is it we don’t hear ourselves accurately? Lastly, why we don’t automatically express our feeling lyrically and musically?

My suggestion is that Zen Buddhist concepts are very similar to these. If we observe meditation, much of the work itself is a straight spine posture. The sound waves we hear are inaccurate in part because without good posture, it travels through the bones in a different way. And without good posture, the body’s emotions remain bound in certain taut or over-relaxed muscles—hence, the expression is always different.

What I’m suggesting is that Eastern concepts of restoring the divine and then taking this and focusing on meditation and its straight spine, is basically analogous to—restoring the misaligned divine voice within by straightening the spine.

What’s the best yoga pose for slouches singers

May 5, 2009

Cobra, because cobra counteracts the slouch and achieve a straighter vocal tract.  Lots of people have slouches, and most aren’t aware of it.  Very few people stand straight.

Vocal Support

April 20, 2009

The question is posed, what is “support” , what part of the body is being talked about?

An initial answer is that support is working against the natural urge of the diaphragm to release the air that has been inhaled….” by Martin at http://www.punbb-hosting.com/forums/themodernvocalist/viewtopic.php?id=250 .

Martin says “This is achieved by resisting its movement. During singing, the waist muscles and solar plexus are pushed outwards, the abdomen around the navel is gradually pulled in in a constant and sustained manner, and the back muscles are tightened. The muscles in the loin are trying to push the pelvis backwards while the muscles in the abdomen are trying to pull the pelvis up under your body. This battle created between the abdominal muscles and the muscles in the loin is a valuable and important part of the support.

The support must however happen in a sustained and continuous manner as though working against a resistance, for as long as a sound is being produced. When the muscle contractions stop being sustained and continuous (for instance, if you can not pull the abdomen around the navel inwards any further or push the muscles of the waist or solar plexus outwards any further) then there is usually no more support. It is important to conserve your support energy so you do not waste it or use it at the wrong point in time. Do not use support before it is necessary for example when the singing gets difficult, such as on high notes or at the end of a phrase. Support is hard physical work so you should be in good physical condition.”

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Thank you, Martin. This is very interesting. Is your defined support term different from the use of the word usage meaning breath support?

I like what you wrote (rare for me, as you know), but want to add a few more challenges.  I agree with you on the strengthening the lower abdomen to gain support and improve singing. But, until I’ve had a chance to really test the intracies of the muscles you’ve described, am unsure what will really happen.

“Do not use support before it is necessary for example when the singing gets difficult, such as on high notes or at the end of a phrase.”

Also, regarding not to use before it is necessary, why is this?

To elaborate, in yoga, there’s a great deal of emphasis to gain elasticity and strength in the lower back and the waist area. And in Chinese thought, there’s an emphasis on an area immediately below the navel, called the Tan Tien. In yoga and other Hindu thought, the lower abdomen and waist is where the kundalini energy arises. So, it would seem that the support for a lot of physical power is already in other thoughts. The major difference between what you’ve described and Eastern thoughts is the application toward the voice. Hence, there’s a great deal of similarities between learning how to sing and Eastern “spiritual” practices (which include martial arts, yoga, and meditation). But, there no such “Do not use support….” that I’m aware of. It seems support is continually cultivated here.

So, my next question is…. Is support a postural support that is to be continually practiced on and strengthened, or is it an occasional usage in singing?

Chen Sun

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