How many times have you heard that good singing posture is essential for healthy voice production?
However, only some singers really pay attention to proper body alignment.
I think the problem is that new singers do not understand why good posture is so important for singing.
Many beginners ask questions about how to sing well but when the answer is “ideal body alignment”, they look for more complicated answers.
The other part of the problem is that in today’s society it is not easy to maintain good posture – we are all used to hunching over computers, sitting for long periods of time and having no time for exercise.
So I decided to create a short summary in the form of an infographic to remind everyone about good body alignment and its importance.
Bonus: Posture and breathing go hand in hand. Get a free checklist to find out if you breathe efficiently for singing and start improving your voice right away. Click here to get it now!
How to Sing Well: Singing Posture
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Good singing posture provides the support structure to both the vocal and breathing mechanisms.
The muscles of the body work in opposite directions, which causes the body to lengthen.
Let me explain …
Imagine pitching a tent – the tent pole lengthens the tent upwards while the guy wires pull the tent downward. Together they create strong support to something that would collapse without it.
How to sing well?
Your goal is to create this antagonistic support system.
When such a system is achieved, the larynx is perfectly suspended and open, the body is aligned to ensure proper breathing and all systems coordinate effortlessly to produce good quality sound.
When the body is well aligned for singing:
- the rib cage floats freely
- the diaphragm descends easily
- breathing is effective
- sound production is tension-free
- the voice becomes flexible
So What is Good Singing Posture?
This is a general description of good singing posture (but check out the step-by-step singing posture exercises to fine tune YOUR optimal body alignment):
- Put your feet shoulder-width apart and distribute your weight evenly.
- Knees are not locked but relaxed.
- Your back lengthens and widens but your shoulders are relaxed.
- Your body should feel long and tall. Stand as tall as you can but at the same time be relaxed. Standing like a soldier is definitely not what you want to feel (or look like).
- Hips are in alignment with the spine, neck and shoulders.
- Your chest is fully open and flexible.
- There is no tension anywhere in your body.
- Your chin is parallel with the floor.
- The top of your head is pulling your spine up.
How to Sing Well? Find Your Optimal Body Alignment
Different people will have slightly different ideas about the best posture for singing. Some teachers will tell you to stand with feet hip-width apart. Some people will swear by having one foot slightly forward. Opinions also vary regarding the position of your neck, shoulders, and hips.
Have you ever wondered why there are so many different opinions?
And which one is best for you?
There isn’t one universal singing posture.
What works for me, may not work for you. So you need to fine tune your optimal posture for singing. Different positions will work for different people.
Here are step-by-step instructions on how to find your optimal body alignment:
Step 1: Find Your Happy Sound
Every singer has one pitch that is the most comfortable for him or her to sing. This pitch sounds the most stable, resonant, free and clear.
Find that one pitch. Try to sing a few different pitches, play around with some sounds, then listen and especially feel which one is the easiest.
(You may need a vocal teacher with “trained ears” or a friend with “good ears” to help you. Alternatively, you can use a recording device to hear your own voice. If there is no help available, tune-in to your senses to figure out what feels good.)
For me, it’s B3 but you don’t need to know the name. Just find it and remember it.
Let’s call it a “happy sound”. You need a “happy sound” to find your optimal body alignment.
Step 2: Feet Alignment
Let’s start with your feet.
Put your feet close together. Sing your “happy sound”. Then position your feet little bit further apart. Sing your “happy sound”. Then put your feet hip and shoulder-width apart (my hips are wider than my shoulders but for you it can be reversed). Sing your “happy sound”. Try positioning one foot slightly forward. Sing your “happy sound”. You get the idea …
Do you feel a difference in your voice in these different positions? In which position does your “happy sound” feel or sound the best?
You can try a similar approach to figuring out how to distribute your weight – to the balls of your feet or to the heel or somewhere in between. Use your “happy sound” to figure it out.
If you really don’t feel or hear any difference, find a position that is most comfortable for you. This will be the position that gives you the most freedom.
Step 3: Hips Alignment
Let’s focus now on your hips.
Stand straight against the wall. Find the curve behind your lower back.
How big is this curve? Is the space between your lower back and the wall tiny or can you fit your fist in the space?
Now play around with that space. Make it smaller by tucking your pelvis in or make it bigger by sticking out your “butt” (excuse my language). Sing your “happy sound” and feel what is different. In which position is the sound clean and free? That is your optimal hip position.
Step 4: Shoulder Position
Now turn your attention to the shoulders.
The position of your shoulders can range from shoulders pushed back to shoulders curled forward. Neither of these extreme positions is optimal.
Play around with your shoulders while singing your “happy sound” and figure out which position allows you to sing with the most freedom.
If you don’t feel or hear any difference in your voice, try to make your shoulders wide but do not push them too far back. (Remember: you don’t want to feel like a soldier).
This new position (with shoulders back) may not be comfortable because our modern life style tends to move the shoulders more forward into a collapsed position.
Here is a YouTube video explaining all the why’s, what’s and how’s of a medium-high chest position when singing. Check it out:
Link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ZZkdM3xYGU&feature=youtu.be
Step 5: Neck and Head Alignment
Time for the neck and head alignment: during this process you should feel and hear the biggest difference in your voice. Your “happy sound” will definitely be affected when your neck stretches too far forward, your chin is tucked in or your head is lifted up or tilted down.
Stretch your neck forward, then tuck in your chin while singing your “happy sound”. The optimal neck position will be somewhere between these two points.
Then tilt your head up and down (like when you nod your head saying “yes”) while singing your “happy sound”. Experiment and find what works best for you.
Step 6: Full Body Alignment
Review steps 2 to 5 and find a full body alignment that is optimal for you.
This may take some time because a change in position of one body part may affect the alignment of the rest of the body. It’s always good to start from your feet and continue upward. A mirror can be helpful for visual feedback.
Each body part can be positioned on a continuum and your task is to find the sweet spot. Your “happy sound” will assist you. It is very likely that the sweet spot will lie somewhere between two extremes.
Voila! There is YOUR optimal singing posture!
One More Tip
Imagine yourself as a puppet on a string. The string is attached to the top of the head which is gently pulled upward. Shoulders are relaxed. The neck and spine lengthen. Body is relaxed and comfortable and it can move in any direction without resistance.
How to Practice Posture for Singing?
Practice good singing posture several times a day.
Become aware of where your body parts are in space and how they are aligned during singing. Check your posture regularly during singing.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Does your chest stay up and open when you start singing?
- Does your chin stay parallel to the floor when you try to sing high notes?
- Do your shoulders stay wide and relaxed?
- Do you feel as tall as you can during singing?
- Does your body feel relaxed and comfortable without any tension?
If you answered yes to all of the questions above, you’ve found the most optimal singing posture for you!
Our everyday lives bring many bad habits – slouching when driving, sitting in a chair or working at a computer. These bad habits interfere with good posture.
You can practice good posture for singing anywhere and anytime:
- while waiting in line
- while cooking
- while washing dishes
- while talking on the phone
- while riding a bus
- while taking an elevator …
Do you sit when singing?
If the answer is yes, here is a video to help you maintain optimal singing posture when singing:
Link to the video: https://youtu.be/i7ySIl5i3HQ
Bonus: Get a free checklist to find out if you breathe efficiently for singing and start improving your voice right away. Click here to get it now!
There you go. Your first step to knowing how to sing well is under your belt.
But before you go, share this infographic with your friends.
Click like, tweet about it or pin it to your board.
Thank you and happy singing!