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Learning how to sing without strain is crucial if you want to have a resilient voice that will last you.
One of the common issues people encounter when singing is straining. This is more common amongst untrained singers.
Our body is all interconnected. If you want to sing freely, you have to look at your whole body and not only at what happens in your neck.
There are many reasons why your neck tenses up. To name a few:
There are two main reasons why.
1)We build habits throughout our life.
Yes, in an ideal, worry-free world, singing should be natural and easy. But that is not our reality.
The reality is that we are complex beings that go through a lot over our lifetime. Everything that happens to us is stored in our energy, and it gets stuck in our body if we don’t resolve it and let it go.
The emotions that you don’t express create habits in your body. These habits create posture patterns that restrict our breath, and if your breath is restricted, your voice will be affected, and it will be much easier to strain it.
Also, to support your airflow (which is necessary for a strain-free voice), you need to use your pelvic floor and lower abs. This is normally affected by our tendency to be sedentary and to sit in chairs in a way that weakens our pelvic floor.
So as you can see, there are good reasons why our body makes our voice strain. The good news is that you can reverse those habits and create new ones, much more healthy for your voice and you in general!
2)We don’t have a lot of body awareness.
Usually what happens when we try to sing is that we use our most voluntary muscles to do it. This is understandable, of course. Our instinct when we want to have a powerful voice, for example, is to pull the belly in tight. This is because our abs are much more voluntary for us than the muscles you need to support your airflow properly.
In that example, if you want to sing a note with a lot of power and you approach it from your abs, your diaphragm will relax too quickly, and in consequence, the air pressure you send to your larynx is going to be too high, resulting in tension in your neck.
In my vocal studio in Auckland, we build the instrument for singing (our body) in 4 steps. Obviously, the goal is to do this simultaneously.
– Your body weight is equally distributed in the plant of your feet.
– Your pelvis is in a neutral position
– Your hips, shoulders, and ears are aligned
– Your arms hang relaxed at the sides of your body.
It seems like a lot to do in one go, but building new good habits is not something that happens overnight.
However, usually, as soon as you fix your posture, your breathing automatically gets better, and voice production and resonance are easier to get too.
Another exercise you can use to train this is to sit on a gym ball, pointing the sit bones to the ground, and sing while you are bouncing on it. This will help you relax. And if not, the tension will be even more evident, which will make it easier to identify and release.
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