The Power of Posture for singing
The power of posture can be immense, it can alter people’s perceptions of us as we walk into a room and make us feel more confident. For singing, posture is key! As singers, it helps not only with breath management and capacity but with free and efficient vocal performance.
Breath and Support
As we breathe in, the diaphragm lowers to let our lungs expand and as we breathe out, it rises to push the air through the wind pipe. As this happens, the vocal folds will adduct and block the air, creating sub-glottic pressure to push open the folds, causing them to vibrate. So, thinking about posture, if we are slouched over, this will restrict the amount of space available for the diaphragm to move into, meaning less breath intake. With less breath, it can be harder to make it to the end of a phrase without forcing the breath. This is an inefficient process and will eventually affect performance. It is likely to make you fatigue faster, as the muscles such as the sternocleidomastoids (SCM) are having to work a lot harder to control airflow through the vocal chords.
The Shoulders, Chest and Neck
If the shoulder girdle is not aligned in its most efficient position, then it has a large impact and influence on the muscles around the chest, back and neck. Picture the normal slouched posture, it is likely to include shoulders rolled forward. This means that to be able to look in front of us, we have to lift or extend through the upper cervical region, leading to a ‘poke chin’ posture. Now, this position will shorten the Pec Minor, a small muscle that attaches onto part of the shoulder blade. This slouched position will also start to affect the Omohyoid. This is a muscle that also attaches onto the shoulder blade but also the hyoid bone. It acts as a larynx depressor, so when slouched it shortens and becomes restricted in its movement, creating a force of imbalance between the larynx depressors and elevators.
The ‘poke chin’ posture, as a result of slouching, will also have a further, more specific effect on the larynx, as in this position, the SCM, along with the suprahyroid group will start to shorten. This will have an effect, specifically, on the stylopharyngeus muscle. This runs deep to the SCM and attaches into the posterior part of the thyroid cartilage. All of these factors when combined, are likely to result in chronic overload and subsequent tightening of the muscles and a habitually high resting larynx. This can really affect vocal quality by restricting range, reducing tone and leading to quicker fatigue, making you have to work harder to sing and produce the desired quality!
So, think about posture when singing because an efficient posture will make singing easier, reducing fatigue and helping to avoid unhelpful amounts of tension and the dreaded high rising larynx, resulting in an easier and more efficient performance.