Is Caffeine Dehydrating to the Vocal Folds?

Caffeine has generally been recognized in the past as being dehydrating to the body while also causing diuresis. Health advocates in the past have encouraged singers as well as educators and public speakers to reduce their intake of caffeine because it is presumed to have a dehydrating effect on the voice. Presently, some information provided on vocal health websites encourage consumers to refrain from caffeinated beverages, in order to maintain fluid balance and one’s hydration status in the body.

Is caffeine dehydrating to the vocal folds? Does it compromise a singer’s ability to perform well?

Caffeine is one substance assumed to be associated with voice problems by causing systemic dehydration. It has been thought that if you drink coffee, you are robbing the body of water. Past reports have stated that for every cup of coffee drunk, 2 cups of urine is eliminated.

Why is hydration so important for the singer?  Singers rely on a well hydrated body for optimal vocal production for many reasons, but primarily because hydration maintains suppleness and litheness for the vocal folds. Hydration also helps to lubricate the mucosal lining protecting the folds from resistance or abrasion during phonation. Well lubricated and supple folds provide stamina for the speaking voice, aid in vocal projection, maintain flexibility with regard to the cartilage and muscular tissues and keep inflammation from becoming an issue.   Avoiding agents that dehydrate the vocal folds is an integral part of vocal hygiene education.

Singers are encouraged to establish and maintain a vocal hygiene program. Since systemic dehydration is detrimental to voice production the avoidance of any external agents that might prevent lubrication of the folds and their flexibility is critical. Because of the presumed drying effects of caffeine, many voice clinicians encourage an abstinence of all beverages containing caffeine. This advice remains common among medical and voice instructors even though there is little evidence to support the belief that caffeine consumption induces negative changes to the voice. Still, singers must consider how their behavior regarding use of the voice, diet, exercise and sleep impact their performance. All decisions regarding lifestyle can serve as a benefit or detriment to the singer.

Should we partake of caffeine? If so, then how much? Does the water in caffeinated drinks help us or not? Killer, Blannin, and Jeukendrup (2014) conducted a study to compare the effects of caffeinated coffee consumption against water ingestion using a range of validated hydration assessment techniques. 50 male coffee drinkers that habitually consumed 3 – 6 cups a day participated in two trials. Each of the trials lasted three consecutive days. In addition to controlled fluid intake, the food intake and physical activity were also controlled. The participants consumed either 200 milligrams of coffee containing 4 milligrams/kilograms caffeine or water. The results showed that there were no significant changes in total body water or total body mass from beginning to end of either trial . There were also no differences between trials with TBW and TBM. These data suggest that coffee, when consumed in moderation by caffeine habituated males provides similar qualities to water. The researchers did caution that no results of this study would be used to infer if there would be no effect with greater amounts of caffeine.

Franca and Simpson (2013) conducted a pilot study to understand the effects of the interaction of caffeine and water intake on the voice as evidenced by acoustic and aerodynamic measurements. The investigation was to determine if the ingestion of 200mg of caffeine and various levels of water intake have an impact on the voice. The participants (N=48) were 49 females ranging in age from 18 – 35 years. The participants followed a protocol that included recording weight and height, as well as menstrual cycle phase identification. Results showed no significant changes in voice or acoustic and aerodynamic measurements across all four groups. The results suggest that 200 mg caffeine may not degrade vocal acoustics and aerodynamics. It also suggests that 200 mg caffeine and water hydration may not lead to statistically significant changes.

Current research shows that a moderate intake of caffeinated beverages do not put one at risk of dehydration. Journals now report that informed medical doctors, exercise physiologists, and human physiologists agree that caffeinated beverages when consumed in moderation cannot put the body in dehydrated status. The body must replenish its fluids everyday because a significant amount of whatever we drink is lost.

If you’re a regular coffee drinker, one cup will hardly have negative ramifications. The body adapts to a person’s coffee-drinking habits. The more coffee you habitually drink, the less water you’ll lose from it.  (Evans, 1998). Many experts also agree that coffee has a hydrating rather than a dehydrating effect because it is a fluid. It is absolutely not recommended over water. As long as one does not add cream and sugar to their cup of coffee, their cup of coffee will contain 95% water!

Still, water is the best source for hydration and therefore the best means to ensuring a singer’s vocal folds are operating at the most optimal level. Over the last several years, we have come to understand that the amount of water one should intake on a daily basis depends on your size and weight, as well as your activity level. As recent as 2014, the United States Food and Drug Administration stated that one should drink eight, eight ounces of water every day. Now, the general rule of thumb is to drink between half an ounce and an ounce of water for each pound you weigh, every day, based on normal physical activity.

In the end, be sensitive to your body. Listen to it. Monitor everything that goes in so the notes that come out are as sweet as the sugar you left in the doughnut still sitting on your plate.

References:

Ahmed, S., Coomber, S., Chetwood, T. (2013). Effects of caffeine on vocal acoustic and      aerodynamic measures of adult females. CoDAS. 25(3), 250-5.                              

Artan Laboratories. (n.d.) Retrieved from: http://www.artannlabs.com/body-hydration.html Caffeine Amounts: Retrieved from: http://www.math.utah.edu/~yplee/fun/caffeine.html                                                   

Center for Science in the Public Interest: (n.d.) Retrieved from:            http://www.cspinet.org/new/cafchart.htm

Duke Voice Health. (2012). Retrieved from: http://www.dukehealth.org/repository/dukehealth/2010/12/22/13/57/10/0598/DVCC%20        vocal%20health.pdf

Erikson, E. (2010). Systematic investigation of caffeine ingestion on voice. Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. 143.(2) 83-84.

Family Doctor. (n.d.) Retrieved from: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/prevention- wellness/food-nutrition/nutrients/hydration-why-its-so-important.html   

Fletcher, H. M., Drinnan, M. J., Carding, P. N. (2007, January). Voice care knowledge among clinicians and people with healthy voices or dysphonia. Journal of Voice. 21(1), 80 – 91.

Franca, M. C., Simpson, K. O. (2013). Effects of the interaction of caffeine on water on voice performance. Communications Disorders Quarterly. 35 (1), 5 – 13.

Franca, M. C., Simpson, K. O., Schuette, A. (2012). A pilot randomised control trial: the effects of decaffeinated drinks on voice quality. Clinical Otolaryngology. 37 (5), 428-431.

Erickson-Levendoski, E., Sivasankar, M. (2011). Investigating the effects of caffeine on        phonation.  Journal of Voice. 25. (5). E215-E219.

Killer, S.C., Blannin, A. K., Jeukendrup, A. E. (2014). No evidence of dehydration with         moderate coffee intake: a counterbalanced cross-over study in a free-living population.

Maughan, R. J., Griffin, J. (2003, Nov. 18). Caffeine ingestion and fluid balance: a review. PubMed. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of  Health.                         doi: 10.1046/j.1365-277X.2003.00477.x

Parillas, D. (n.d.). Vocal hygiene – part 2: hydrate! hydrate! hydrate! why vocal hydration is important to singing. Vocal Brilliance. Retrieved from:   http://vocalbrilliance.com/blog/vocal-hygiene-part- 2-hydrate-hydrate-hydrate-why- hydration-is-important-to-singing

Popkin, B. M., D’Anci, K. E., Rosenberg, I. H. (2010, August).Water, Hydration and Health. National Institutes of Health. Nut.Rev. 68.(8) 439-458.                                                           doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.2010.00304.x

The United States Food and Drug Administration. Last updated (2014, July 7). Retrieved from: http://www.fda.gov/food/guidanceregulation/guidancedocumentsregulatoryinformation/ucm381189.htm

Vocal health top ten list. (1994, April). American Salesman. 39.(4) 24.

https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/water-for-weight-loss-diet#2

 

Myths and Facts: Caring for Your Voice during the Winter Months

Taking care of the voice or Vocal Hygiene

can be thought of as the care and feeding of the voice. 

These are things we do to keep the voice healthy.

To take care of the voice, we must also take care of the body.

Here are the facts regarding hydration of your body and therefore your voice ~

INTERNAL HYDRATION

Glass.Water.

To keep the vocal folds moist from the inside, make sure you drink plenty of water.

The vocal folds function best when the entire body is well hydrated. Since fluids and food pass through the pyriform sinus cavities avoiding the vocal folds and air passageway, vocal folds do not receive direct hydration. Rather, the body supplies hydration to the areas of the body that need it foremost. This is why it is important to hydrate on a consistent and constant basis as it does not help your voice if you plan on waiting and drinking water just before your choir rehearsal.

  • Good hydration also makes the mucus that covers the vocal folds thin and slippery, so that they move against each other easily and vibrate smoothly. Think of the mucus coating as being like motor oil to your car’s engine: if it is thin and slippery, the engine will run smoothly!
  • Alcohol is drying to the entire body. Monitor your consumption of alcohol as it can make the vocal folds drier. If you are a regular coffee drinker of caffeine, moderate and regular intakes are now considered not to be as de-hydrating as once believed. Research shows that a profound tolerance to the effects of caffeine and its response are much diminished in individuals who regularly consume tea or coffee. Doses of caffeine equivalent to the amount normally found in standard servings of tea, coffee and carbonated soft drinks appear to have no diuretic action. Coffee contains 95% water.
  • Foods that have a lot of water in them can help with hydration. Examples: cucumbers, melon, grapes, and gelatin. It might be a great idea to stock the fridge at work as well as at home so they are readily available.
  • Dairy products do not produce phlegm in the majority of people (the exception is people who are allergic to casein, the protein in some types of milk). Instead, the high fat content in dairy products thickens the mucous that is already present in a person’s airway, making it seem like there is more phlegm. Thicker phlegm can be just as problematic as having more phlegm. This thickening sensation can be diminished by eating dairy products that have a lower fat content.

MEDICATIONS AND HYDRATION

Many medications, such as cold and allergy medications, are drying to the body. Try to avoid these medications to help your body stay hydrated.

Cough.Syryp.

Your doctor may recommend a mucolytic medication. This is a medication that can  help keep mucus thin and slippery. These medications are  available  over the counter. GUAIFENESIN is the active ingredient. Brand names include Humibid, Mucinex, and Robitussin.  Be sure to get the preparation that does not contain decongestants, antihistamines,  or cough suppressants.

Ludens.Cough.Drops.

Many cough drops and throat lozenges are drying to the mucus membranes of                the mouth and throat. This is especially true for products that contain   menthol and eucalyptus. The best lozenges for soothing the mouth or throat are glycerin lozenges.

EXTERNAL HYDRATION

Hydrating.Bowl.

Steam inhalation: Inhaling or breathing steam helps the voice box stay moist and can be very soothing to irritated vocal folds. Breathe the steam through your nose for three to five minutes, two to three times per day.

  • Breathe shower steam or from a personal steamer.
  • You can also boil water, pour it into a sink, and breathe the steam.
  • Never breathe steam standing over a hot stove or boiling water.
  • Moisten a washcloth under hot water, hold it over your mouth and nose, then breathe in.

humidifier.

Room humidification: You can increase the moisture in your home or office by using a room humidifier or hot water vaporizer.  Cool mist vaporizers can cause chemicals and germs to get into the air.

Room humidity should be between 30 and 50 percent. You can check the moisture in the air in your home by using a hygrometer.

The most important thing when using room humidifiers or vaporizers is to carefully follow the cleaning instructions in the package. If you don’t keep the humidifier or vaporizer clean, germs can get into the air that you breathe.

Allergies to Mold or Mildew: Be careful using humidifiers or vaporizers. They can  increase the moisture in the environment and can cause mold and mildew to grow.

Even after maintaining proper hydration and practicing good vocal hygiene, we must always use our voice efficiently with proper breath support and appropriate resonance.

To learn more about vocal hygiene, you may visit: Duke Voice Center.

References:

Daugherty, J. (2012). Vocal health handout. University of Kansas.  Lawrence,  KS.

Daugherty, J. (2015). Graduate vocal pedagogy.  Retrieved from http://cmed.faculty.ku.edu

Duke Voice Care Center.  Vocal health information. Retrieved from http://dukevoicecare.org 

Erickson-Levendoski, E., Sivasankar, M. (2011). Investigating the effects of caffeine on  phonation.  Journal of Voice. 25. (5). E215-E219. Feldenkrais, M. (1949). Body and mature behavior. New York: International Universities Press.

Killer, S.C., Blannin, A. K., Jeukendrup, A. E. (2014). No evidence of dehydration with moderate coffee intake: a counterbalanced cross-over study in a free-living population. PLoS One. 9 (1). e84154. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0084154

Parillas, D. (n.d.). Vocal hygiene – part 2: hydrate! hydrate! hydrate! why vocal hydration is important to singing. Vocal Brilliance. Retrieved from: http://vocalbrilliance.com/blog/vocal-hygiene-part-2-hydrate-hydrate-hydrate-why-hydration-is-to-singing

 

TEACH ALL DAY? TIPS TO MAINTAINING VOCAL HEALTH ~

TIPS FOR TEACHERS

Teachers are at special risk for developing hoarseness simply be cause the job requires heavy voice use five plus days a week, with little time in between to allow the voice to recover. It has been observed that half of all teachers have a voice problem at some point in their careers.

WHAT TO DO?

❖ Take care to be well-hydrated. Begin your day with a full glass of water.

Water.Glass.

❖ Warm up your voice before you begin speaking and certainly before you enter the classroom. Use efficient speaking techniques as soon as you begin talking. This means establishing a routine for when your feet first hit the floor in the morning. Please see our routine at the bottom of this article.

❖ Use personal or room amplification to minimize voice use in classroom or in rehearsal.

Megaphone.

❖ When you can, use sound makers (whistles, hand claps) to gain students’ attention, rather than a loud voice.

whistle.

❖ Use printed signs or hand signals for messages that you use often.

❖ Minimize using your voice to teach the music. Have the pianist or section leaders demonstrate the part.

❖ Provide recordings for your choir members to learn the music.

CDs.

❖ Avoid talking at the end of your breath. Don’t hold your breath before or between words.

❖ Use deep breathing avoiding shallow breaths before you talk.

❖ Incorporate vocal pacing by taking breaks from talking, both long and short throughout your day whether it is a weekend, vacation or typical work day. Not talking for even 5 minutes will make a difference.

❖ Avoid speaking at long lectures. Get creative with other ways to teach.

❖ If you are ill, cancel your engagements. If your voice is tired, stop speaking! Wear a button that says “I’m on vocal rest.”

Vocal Rest Button 

VOCALRESTBADGE_720x.jpg

❖ Decrease the amount of time you spend on the phone. Use text messaging or email. By all means, avoid loud conversations on the phone.

❖ Improve your classroom acoustics by adding acoustic panels to the ceiling and walls and carpeting to the floors. These materials help decrease the reverberation or echo of sound in the room. Minimize the noise from fans, lights, overhead projectors, and sound coming from other classes. For more specific tips, visit asa.aip.org  for the Acoustical Society of America’s Classroom Acoustics booklet.

Lombard effect: The Lombard effect will cause one to increase their volume due to increased noise levels in the room.  Voices tend to produce a more pressed phonation. For singers, pitch accuracy can become unstable and retention of pitch inaccurate. Do you best to avoid talking over noise whenever possible. Turn off the fan, buzzing lights, computers, etc..

❖ Wear an earplug in at least one ear. It can help your voice in a noisy situations, so that you avoid speaking too loudly. Molded Ear Plugs 

    ear.   ear plugs

❖ Use personal amplification or room amplification when teaching to minimize voice overuse.

Morning Vocal Routine:

  1. Light hum on a descending slide starting at about mid-register easily done as you are dressing for your day.
  2. Lip trill on an ascending penta-scale from low register to upper register. Then, graduate to full scales ascending and descending.
  3. Keep the diaphragmatic breathing you experienced all night with slow hisses or “sh-sh-sh”.
  4. Get the articulators going as you’re making your coffee or hot tea with explosive consonants: “ticky-ticky-ticky-too” or “chugga-chugga-choo-choo”.
  5. Move to phonation in the head voice with those great bird sounds of the crow and the owl: “caw-caw” “hoo-hoo”.
  6. Speaking with your established head voice and on the air – mix up some tongue twisters:

“Sally sells sea shells down by the sea shore.” What a wonderful world it is, when we whistle as we walk.”

  1. From there, you can move to your chest voice with a “ho-ho-ho-ho” and from there to singing in your different registers.

References:

Duke Voice Care Center.  Vocal health information. Retrieved from http://dukevoicecare.org.

Daugherty, J. (2012). Vocal health handout. University of Kansas.  Lawrence, KS.

Parillas, D. (n.d.). Vocal hygiene – part 2: hydrate! hydrate! hydrate! why vocal hydration is important to singing. Vocal Brilliance. Retrieved  from: http://vocalbrilliance.com/blog/vocal-hygiene-part-2-hydrate-hydrate-hydrate-why-hydration-is-important-to-singing

Images retrieved from:

 3D  anatomical tutorial on the vocal and vestibular folds: Retrieved from : http://youtu.be/jqTKSorDRJo

 www.3-Dyoga.com

 http://www.innerbody.com/image/musco6.html

 www.google.images.com

Continue reading TEACH ALL DAY? TIPS TO MAINTAINING VOCAL HEALTH ~

Build Technique with a New Routine

You’re a month into teaching your choir students.  You have established your classroom routine and are in the thick of learning concert music.  You are encouraged by their progress, but you sense that your students are about to hit a late-September wall.  So how do you keep building fundamental singing technique without losing student engagement? Try a new routine as you continue to build technique.

Choral Training instead of Warm-ups

By the time my middle school students arrive to choir, many of them have been talking, laughing—and sometimes yelling—since they got on the bus that morning. It’s safe to say their voices are “warmed up.” (If you need confirmation, just ask their core subject teachers!) I find this is a good time to ditch traditional “warm ups” and replace them with some choral training exercises.  After some light stretching and breathing exercises, 5-7 minutes of choral training can be a great way to reinforce healthy singing and work on a skill pertinent to your concert rep. For example, my students recently sang the National Anthem before a baseball game.  The beginning word is “Oh,” and the kids were struggling to shape their “Oh” vowel as a tall and open “ɔ.”  To work on this, we sang a descending arpeggio alternating “ɔ” and “ɒ”.* The goal was to minimize jaw movement, lift the soft palate, and reinforce proper shaping of the vowel.  When we transitioned into our song repertoire, the muscle memory was fresh, and I could refer back to our training exercise as needed. Arpeggios, tongue twisters, and rounds can all be used to reinforce various techniques.

*To take this exercise a step further, we sing “no” on the same arpeggio, but still focus on shaping the vowel to be taller and lifted.  We slowly and smoothly move our heads in a “no” motion while singing to eliminate tension through the back and neck.

Other Tongue Twisters and Rounds

Lighten the mood in your classroom by singing something challenging or silly—and build technique in the process!
1.  Alphabet arpeggio:
Work for quick consonants, long vowels, round space, and smooth transitions between letters.

Alphabet scale

*Try singing the letters backwards once you’ve mastered the exercise.

2. Tongue-Twister: “Who Washed Washington’s White Woolen Underwear When Washington’s Washerwomen Went West”. Use this one to work on chewy “Ws”—use consistent breath to sing with energy on one consistent note.

3. “One Bottle O’ Pop”: Round: Emphasize singing on the vowel with quick consonants. In meters of three, check out the music here:

https://www.bethsnotesplus.com/2013/01/one-bottle-of-pop.html

4. “COFFEE” Round: Use to reinforce unified vowels and explore phrasing.

Coffee round.png

From the King Singer’s Book of Rounds, Canons, and Partsongs-Hal Leonard Corporation


Have a toolbox and use it

          I keep a basket full of random toys, capes, masks, and other silly things that I pull out once a week (sometimes more) to keep students engaged, provide visual aid, and teach about technique. Here are a few of my go-to tools:

football (A and B)      football (A and B)

I use the football two ways.  First, I’ll have the students throw the football back and forth to me and make glissandos with lifted palates as they throw. When we throw a ball, we are taught to “follow through” after the ball is released. Similarly, when we sing, we must “follow through” with air and energy.

Second, I use the football to help demonstrate the optimal shape we’re trying to achieve with our vowel (Image B).  To make it fun, I rotate the ball from horizontal (Image A) to vertical (Image B) and back again while students sing.  It’s okay to let students experiment singing with good and bad technique so they can hear—and feel—the difference.

Hoberman sphere

The Hoberman sphere, like the football, has a variety of applications.  I use it most often to teach consistent airflow and gradual dynamic changes.  As the choir sings, I slowly expand and contract the Hoberman sphere. The students react and gradually crescendo and decrescendo accordingly.  By varying the speed at which I open and close the sphere, students learn that they must use a strong and steady airflow in order to keep up—they also think it’s hilarious to really exaggerate the changes. Allow students to “conduct” with the Hoberman sphere for extra fun!

Chocolate kiss

I tell my students to imagine they have a chocolate kiss on their tongue but they don’t want the pointed end to touch the roof of their mouth.  This helps them to feel a lifted soft palate.  We imagine having that chocolate kiss for a few days in class and then if they seem to be grasping the concept, I bring in real chocolate kisses.  The students get to place them on their tongues for a few seconds to remember that lifted soft palate sensation and then they can eat it.  We never try to sing with the chocolate in our mouths.

Gadgets book

Finally, I encourage teachers to read Gadgets for Great Singing by Christy Elsner.  I use many of her tips and tricks in the classroom.  All are fun and engaging for middle school students, and could be applied at the high school level as well.

Have fun shaking things up in your classroom while continuing to develop good technique.

Developing Voices author Jennifer Berroth is Choral Director at Leawood Middle School in Kansas and also serves as Associate Music Director of Lee’s Summit Summer Singers with The William Baker Choral Foundation.

Jennifer.Berroth@Gmail.com

 

Stand Tall Singer!

ultimate.guide.posture.

How many times have we heard “Stand in Singer’s Posture” or “Pull Your Sternum Toward the Ceiling”?  And so, tall I stood. Staying in perfect posture took hold when I was but fourteen years old and effected me until just a few years ago. When I was an impressionable fourteen years old someone gave me a compliment. The compliment was that I had great posture. I took note of what I was doing when that person made the comment. Since then, I have always made an effort to sit and stand tall! This is exactly what we want as a singer, right?

sitting.posture.
I was the girl on the right!

I have had several excellent voice teachers over the years that have taught me many great vocal techniques and meaningful repertoire. But, I have had one issue with my voice that has always been a mystery. Now that I understand what caused the symptoms, I wonder why it was not so apparent from the beginning. It was a former professional dancer that led me to discover the most important element missing in my singing.

When I would perform with the William Baker Festival Singers I experienced pain emanating from my back within the first few minutes. It wasn’t because we were holding folders, because we sang from memory. By the time we were half way through, I would begin to experience vocal fatigue. This was not my experience in rehearsals. Was it the floor I was standing on? Was it the stress of giving a high stakes performance from memory? But, when I was conducting my own Festival Singers, I noticed a difference. I experienced no pain during or after any performance no matter the length. As a matter of fact, I felt great!

For years, many people weighed in on this issue and offered their remedy:

Attempted Solution #1: After discussing this phenomenon with one of my voice teachers he explained that I should lift my rib cage out of my hips, tuck my tail bone and “lower” into my thighs causing my knees to slightly bend. He recommended that I hold this position while I sing. How can one hold any position while singing? You can imagine that maintaining this position for even a couple of minutes was more exhausting than dealing with the sway back issue.

Attempted Solution #2: Recommended to me by other vocal pedagogues, I should sway slightly while singing. This would increase circulation and therefore keep tension from setting in thus enabling better air flow. This helped relieve some of the tension in my back, but it did little for vocal stamina.

Attempted Solution #3: Stand on a gel mat and change your shoes! I’ve never been able to stand in high-heels because my ankles are made of rubber (which is why I majored in organ). But, I did try various shoes with different degrees of arch support, heel cushions, all to no avail. I even tried rubbing magnesium in these areas. The gel mat was nice, bud didn’t resolve the problem.

Final ReSolution: The Dancer that guided me to resolve to understand the source of my issue was Babette Lightner. After talking with her a few minutes at Voice Care Network , she asked me to sing. I immediately got ready to sing by assuming singer posture. She asked me how I felt. I assessed and said “tight and thin”. Then, with no comment, she asked me to sing and walk about the room, gazing upon different things – the windows, the plants, the lights. She asked me how I felt. I responded with “great!” She asked me again to stand still and sing. Back into singer posture I went. She asked yet again what was different. What is different about walking and singing (while not thinking about it) and standing still and singing? It couldn’t just be the movement, because I had tried that before. It was something more. All these years I had come to believe that standing tall was something you had to manipulate your body to do, that posture was something to be held in place.

But, standing tall meant over-extending my sternum. It meant pulling my sternum up and out. This actually increased the bow in my sway back. This over-reaching position displaced my diaphragm so that it could not collapse or expand freely and completely. All this time, I thought my stamina and breathing issues stemmed from or my sway back. My issue with being able to sing well were created from my idea of a singer’s posture.

Lumbar.Lordosis.Lumbar Lordosis or Sway Back

Now when I sing, I just stand. If I can look all about the room turning my neck without creating tension, then I know I can sing. If I know I can move left to right and front to back, if I can touch my head, the back of my neck, if I can draw elephant ears in the sky, then I can sing.

It’s true that our bodies are not meant to stand still. We cannot hold any position because our bodies are not meant to assume positions. As a part of avoiding the protrusion of my sternum, I also listen to my heart beat and the pulse of the music. With that, I am able to move because I am using my mind and my body as one. And with that, I am able to be singer and not a mechanic. 

Is this you?

singer.posture.!!!

maybe instead, you can do this while you sing . . .

mind.body.movement.

maybe your choir could feel free to move:

St. Olaf Choir College sing Wondrous Love, Southern Harmony, arr. Robert Scholz.   Anton Armstrong, Conductor.

To understand more about our bodymind systems, please read more:

Babette Lightner: The Lightner Method

David Gorman: Learning Methods

Continue reading Stand Tall Singer!