The introduction of TV, computers and smartphones has slowly introduced poor posture in many people. As a singer, it is important to maintain correct singing posture in order to maximise your lung capacity and improve airflow and resonance in the upper body. For those that need a gentle reminder, this article provides a simple checklist to run through whenever you sing.
Correct singing posture involves standing tall with your back straight, shoulders squared and chin up. Your arms should be relaxed by your side, unless using them to gesture. Your feet should be roughly shoulder-width apart. This provides the space required for deep breathing and sound production.
You can find a detailed description of each of these components of god posture below. I have also included some basic exercises you can do to improve your posture.
Correct Singing Posture
1. Hold Your Head Up
Lift your chin up so that it is parallel to the floor and keep your eyes forward. You can certainly move your head and eyes around to look at the audience (in fact, this is encouraged for audience engagement), but make sure you try to keep that space between your chin and your neck.
Creating this space opens up the airways in your neck, allowing air to flow more freely as you sing. If the airflow is restricted, you will need to work harder to sing properly, which can lead to vocal fatigue or even a sore throat.
Stretching your neck also allows movement of the larynx and tongue. If you allow more movement in the muscles around this area, you will have more control over the resonance and tone of your voice.
2. Square Your Shoulders
Pull your shoulders back so that they are square. This means that the tips of your should be in line with the back of your neck. Unfortunately, most develop some degree of rolled shoulders, where the muscles in the shoulders naturally create a hunch.
Having rolled shoulder reduces your lung capacity. In other words, you cannot breathe in as much as you normally would. As you know, taking deep breaths is important for singing so that you can sustain notes or phrases for longer.
Squaring your shoulders also demonstrates confidence. For more information of developing confidence on stage, click here.
3. Straighten Your Back
Stand tall so that your back is straight. This goes hand-in-hand with squaring your shoulders. Both open up the chest to increase your lung capacity. Straightening your back will also make it easier to push your stomach out as you breathe in. This encourages the lungs to fill downwards towards your abdomen so that the strength of your singing comes from the diaphragm.
4. Relax Your Arms
Relax your arms down by your side, unless you are moving them with the music. Keeping your arms either side of your body helps to keep your shoulders square, which we know allows you to take deeper breaths.
If you do need to move your arms (another thing that is encouraged to make the performance more engaging), you can lift them or stretch them to the side. Just avoid placing your arms across your body.
A common thing I have noticed in singers who are not confident is placing their hand over their stomach. While this might feel comfortable, it encourages your shoulders to roll forward and makes your body more rigid.
5. Seperate Your Feet
Seperate your feet so that they are in line with your shoulders. This will plant you firmly on the ground so that you can stand steadily. Having your feet apart will also help you to brace for high or powerful notes and allow you to move around freely.
You can test this by standing with your feet together and trying to move your upper body. Once you have tried that, seperate your feet and try moving your upper body again. You should notice it is a lot harder to keep balance when moving when your feet are too close together.
Posture Exercises for Singers
Below are exercises that you might want to consider if you struggle to hold the correct singing posture. If you are struggling, this just means there is an imbalance in your muscles. These muscles need to be stretched and re-trained to improve your flexibility and realign your natural singing posture.
Stretching Your Neck
Slowly nod your head up and down. Repeat.
Slowly turn your head from side to side. Repeat.
Tilt your head to the left (bring your left ear towards your shoulder) and hold for 60 seconds. Repeat with the right side.
Roll your head around in a circle one way, then the other way. Repeat.
Squaring Your Shoulders
Stand sideways in a doorway with your feet together and toes touching the door frame. Grip the door frame with both hands at chest height. Lean back until your arms are fully extended. Now pull your chest back towards the doorframe. Repeat.
Stand up against the wall, with your back and heels touching the wall. Now pull your shoulders back so they are also touching the wall. Hold this for 60 seconds.
Stretching Your Back
Sit on a chair so that your feet are shoulder-width apart and touching the ground. Reach over your lap and place your hands on the floor. Tuck your chin in and hold this for 60 seconds.
Kneel on the floor with your hands and knees on the ground, shoulder-width apart. Arch your back and stretch your neck up (the 'cat'). Hold this for 60 seconds. Now curve your back, pull your belly-button towards your spine and tuck your chin in (the 'cow'). Hold this for 60 seconds.
Clasp your hands together and stretch your arms up above your head (like a ballerina). Now move your arms and upper body slowly in a wide circle, bringing your arms/torso to the left, down towards the ground and then back up on the right. Breathe in as you come up and breathe out as you go down. Repeat this to the right.
Stretching Your Arms
Pull your right arm across your chest and hold it in place with your left arm. Hold this for 60 seconds. Now repeat with the left arm.
Touch your thumb and index fingers together and stretch your other fingers out. Now lift your elbows out in front of your as you lift your hands to your face. Touch under your chin with your other three fingers of each hand and rotate your hands until you are looking through the circles of your thumb and index fingers. Your hands should be upside down. Hold this for 60 seconds.
Strengthening Your Legs
Seperate your feet so they are shoulder-width apart. Keep your back straight while bending your knees into a squat and then come back up again. Squats use the correct stance while also strengthening your legs for movement on stage.