Thursday, June 28, 2012

Yoga Study and the Affect on Singing (Part 4 of 4 of Interpretation, Movement and Singing)

Yoga Study and the Affect on Singing (Part 4 of 4 of Interpretation, Movement and Singing)

What can yoga do for your singing aside from make you move better?  The list is endless….

The gentle opening of the body and release of tensions one experiences during yoga are a great thing for the singing voice.  In yoga, you can:
-Tone and strengthen all of the muscle groups

- Increase flexibility and lung capacity
- Enhance the mind/body connection

- Create an ‘energized calm’ in preparation for performances, opening the body and empowering the mind, body and spirit.

Why Tone and Strengthen?
Your body is your instrument.  As a singer, you want it to be as strong and toned as you can. This way your body can work for you not against you. You will fatigue a lot slower in practice and performance and have the upper edge in audition situations.  It is tough to carry out a heavy performance schedule and sometimes heavy costuming.

Why Increase Flexibility and Lung Capacity?
You will be able to hold phrases longer and with more ease. If you are flexible, you create more space inside your body for your sound to resonate, creating a freer, more relaxed and beautiful sound.

Why Enhance the mind/body connection?
If your mind is aware of what your body is doing you can stop tensions early, respond to anything out of whack in your body sooner and manage stress such as a heavy performance schedule or nerves more effectively.  If you have a close mind/body connection, you respond quickly to your nerves and can get them under control before they get the best of you in performance.

I have found YogaSing, founded by Suzanne Jackson, to be a wonderful tool for yoga practice specifically for singers.  Please visit  for information on her YogaSing and YogaWakening DVD and  for yoga poses that assist singing.

The more in tune we are with our bodies, the better singing we create.  If we are singing freely in connection with our body and mind, we can more adequately share the meaning of the music we perform and enhance the musical experience for both ourselves and our audiences.  Add some yoga to your singing practices.  Establish proper posture, tone your core muscles, and allow natural movement to enter your singing.  What can it do for you?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Pilates Study and the Affect on Singing (Part 3 of 4 of Movment and Singing)

Pilates Study and the Affect on Singing (Part 3 of 4 of Movement and Singing)

What can Pilates study do for your singing?  A myriad of wonderful things.

Singing comes from the whole body, especially the core- pelvic floor muscles, deep abdominal muscles, deep spinal muscles and the diaphragm.  The study of Pilates promotes proper posture, alleviates tension, and strengthens the core, which are all wonderful things for the singing voice.  “Working on connecting to the core muscles (abdominal muscles) through movement work can significantly improve the singing voice”.   Awareness of the core muscles and working on strengthening them through movement while maintaining an open throat, good breath support, a resonant sound, and staying safely vocally connected while singing is a tough thing to coordinate.  There are many performance based programs such as the Opera Masters Program at Julliard directed by Joan Murray who believe that Pilates is such an essential element of study for performers that they require it as a part of study. Visit for specific Pilates exercises for singers. 

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!
Give it a try and share, how has Pilates helped your singing voice?  What about Yoga?  I’ll be back soon with how Yoga can enhance your singing in Part 4 of my 4 Part Series Movement and Singing.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Interpretation and Movement in Singing (Part 2 of 4)

Interpretation and Movement in Singing (Part 2 of 4)

If we’ve worked on interpretation of the text of a piece, movement almost always follows.  Movement while you sing, it’s natural is it not?  Not staged, not dancing, but freedom to express the meaning of a song with a little movement, not frozen in a standing singing position. Does movement increase the breathe flow through the lungs and out of the body?  I truly believe we should allow freedom of movement to enter the equation.   If we can unlock the innate tensions created by poor posture, inadequate breath support or nerves, the singing voice can grow immensely!

When singing, the body needs to feel a sense of movement and buoyancy rather-  than feeling  static, tense and frozen.  The movement must not distract from the singing of the piece, but can enhance the overall sound created.   Air flow requires freedom in the body- proper posture and alignment facilitates this.  Breath flow can be increased through
- Gentle stretches for relaxation of muscles (neck, face, torso, legs)

- Stretches to open the body, specifically the ribs, lungs, and abdomen ( )
- Core strengthening (Pilates)(

- Improving mind/body awareness (Yoga and Pilates)
When you are aware of your body and its movements and tensions, you can notice any tensions in your body or stressors in your mind more quickly and reduce them before they inhibit your singing. Your mind, body and spirit work as one for a healthy singer.  Stay tuned for more in Part 3 of 4 of Interpretation and Movement : Pilates Study and the Affect on Singing

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Interpretation and Movement in Singing? How does movement influence how you or your students sing? (Part 1 of 4)

Have you ever wondered how much interpretation and natural movement influences how you or your students sing? With all of the spring high school musicals, the question of the effect of dancing and acting while singing has come to the forefront of my mind.  Why is it that many students sing so freely when on stage dancing and acting and yet freeze up when singing in a recital? 

We as teachers instill good technique using proper breath support, posture, phrasing, breath marks, good diction. Do we sometimes inhibit student to merely listen to the voices of right and wrong in their heads rather than letting them feel the music and the emotion of the song?  Don’t get me wrong, proper technique is the core of good singing, but do we always allow time to focus on the meaning of the words and freedom of movement in the study of a piece? 

I find we often allow more time for that only if preparing the piece for a performance.  I know I always mean to devote more time to it.  What would happen if students studied the text and interpreted its meaning from the very start?  If we learn the melody and rhythm of a piece at the same time as we look at the poetry and meaning, would some of the technical issues perhaps be lessened?  If the singer’s body and mind are more relaxed and focused on emotion, would it drastically change how well a student sings a song or would it encourage negative technique? 

I think it would vary with each student, but a concept worth exploring.  I am challenging myself and my students this summer to do just this.

The first week you are given a piece:

1.       Learn the melody and rhythms of the music for the first half of your practice time.

2.       Study the text, interpret the meaning and how you would speak it like a monologue separate from the music for the second half.

3.       Reverse the process the next time you practice.

Allowing communication to happen first with an underlying foundation of proper technique may give the singer freedom both in body and mind.  What will this do to encourage natural movement as well?  Will you join me in the challenge?