Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Pilates Practice for Singing- Most Effective Exercises

Pilates Practice for Singing and what are some of the most effective exercises?

There are many pilates exercises which are beneficial to singing practice.  We are engaging many of the same muscles with focus on centering, concentration, precision, control, breath and flow which are the 6 Principles of Pilates and often a source of focus in singing study.  Here are a few samples of effective pilates moves for singing practice:



Planks:  Strengthens core muscles and engages abdominal muscles in the same way we should engage abdominal muscles to initiate and stop airflow for singing.  Planks may be done on elbows on floor or ball (as shown) or on hands.



Image result for pilates



Chest lift with rotation: Engages and strengthens core muscles for breath control.

Image result for chest lift pilates


Spine twist and Side Lift : Strengthens side abdominal muscles and stretches vertebrae for good posture and breath engagement

Image result for spine twist pilatesImage result for side lift pilates


Corkscrew: Strengthens all abdominal muscles and focus on control and flow of movement.  Slow controlled breath to initiate the movement and throughout the movement very effective for how engaged abs should be while singing a phrase.

Image result for corkscrew pilates


Thread the Needle (Shoulder Stretch):  Opens back and shoulders to increase expansion of ribs and ease of breathing.  So important to singing!

Image result for pilates thread the needle

Side Stretch (Sitting or Standing):  Opens side for ease of expansion for breathing in singing and articulates length of spine from the side.  As you stretch, imagine your spine growing in length by adding space in between vertebrae.  On returning to center, you should feel more space in your spine and side and stand taller with more buoyancy in your stance.  

Image result for pilates side stretchImage result for pilates side stretch


Cat and Cow Stretch and Swan Prep:  Work the back extensors and latissimus dorsi and strenghten while articulating the spine.  Eases back pressure and add space in between vertebrae for better overall posture while singing.

Image result for cat stretch pilatesImage result for swan prep pilates


Spine articulations with Spine Stretch (seated) :  This works the separation of the vertebrae in the spine.   While contracting abs, forward motion with arm reach stretches and separates lower spine.  Upon return to upright sitting, a taller and more separated spine. This is excellent to undo the crunch we put on our lower spine with sitting.  
Image result for spine stretch pilates


Bridge: In bridge work, you are contracting back and abdominal muscles simultaneously.  The initial bridge opens the back vertebrae and lowering bridge you can articulate each vertebrae coming down one at a time and separating to release tension.  At the same time, you work the glutes and hamstrings for a tall energized stance for singing.  The more agile the spine, the better for singing.  

Image result for bridge pilates
Many of these poses come from a paper on Pilates and the Classical Singer https://d3a512p2kajs89.cloudfront.net/media/paper/-pilates-and-the-classical-singer.pdf


In Pilates we work to free the muscles of the head, neck and shoulders and work on strengthening the core stabilizers (abdominal muscles).   We reduce outside tensions and open the resonating chambers of the body, creating a more resonant (freer) singing voice.  We establish more core awareness and stability in connection with making a resonant sound and help to build the foundation of a strong and resilient singing voice.  Some basic Pilates study will help you find strength from within your own body to enhance the beautiful singing you know lies within you.  Imagine the freedom you get in your singing voice when your posture is wonderful and your core muscles are truly connected to your sound!  Let me know how this impacts your singing!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Pilates (and Planks) and Singing: Why and How Pilates Helps the Singing Voice


Image result for pilates


Pilates (and Planks) and Singing: Why and How Pilates Helps the Singing Voice

What are the main components of Pilates and how do they relate to the singing voice?

6 Essential Components of Pilates (from the BodyBook) (and Singing by Me)

1. Centering: Everything begins and ends with the center

Pilates:  All movements are energized and empowered by the strengthening of the core muscles

Singing: All breath flow starts with the direction of the core muscles and coordinates with the ribs and entire body to balance breath flow.  Breath flow is initiated and ends with the center core.

2. Concentration: Attention is on the intention of the movement or beginning of a phrase

Pilates: Attention is spent on the intention of movement before it begins and as it happens

Singing: Concentration on how our breath and sound is coordinated is the focus of much of our practice time until it becomes second nature.

3. Control:  Body and mind

Pilates and Singing: In both, we control and sync together the body and mind

4. Precision: Focus on each part being precise!

Pilates: Each movement is performed with precision and focus.  The details matter.

Singing:  Each start, duration, and end of musical phrases is performed with precision and focus.  The details matter to practice to make it seem flawless and effortless.

5. Breath:  Transformative

Pilates: Breath transforms the body and mind by working together

Singing:  The sycronization of the the breath with the body and mind makes singing such a unique art.  The mind slows to be in sync and the breath then does its job to provide the catalyst for our sound. 

6. Flow:  Breath, body, mind.

Pilates:  The goal is to flow from one exercise to the next gracefully.

Singing: The goal is to flow from one phrase to the next (coordinating our breath and muscles) gracefully.

One thing the book does not address which I find to be paramount to Pilates and Singing is that it works on improving and strengthening your posture.  Good posture is essential to good breath and therefore good singing.  Pilates work strengthens our core and posture which in turn improves singing and makes the motions of good singing more natural. 

Explore Pilates practice and see how it impacts your singing past doing the basic planks we already explored.  Check in soon for tips on some of the best Pilates moves for your singing!