I am taking a video course in tai chi, and the instructor keeps talking about perfect alignment. I thought that as a professional singer I knew how to stand correctly. Well, this course has taught me a bit of fine-tuning to my posture that I am passing along to my students with great results!
We start with our feet about shoulder-width apart, one foot a little bit in front of the other, knees bent and turned out slightly. This will help prevent your knees from locking (very bad!) and helps protect the lower back. This is similar to turnout that dancers are familiar with, but the rotation is from the hips and the feet are facing the front, not aiming towards 180 degrees!
Then we come to the bottom tuck, or pelvic tuck, or pinch-a-penny. Most of us have some amount of sway in our backs. What we want is to make the back as straight as possible. Part of how we do this is to tuck the pelvis. And we tuck the pelvis by squeezing the gluteus maximi together. Squeeze those butt-cheeks! This will straighten out the back and serve as the basis of good support.
Good posture serves many purposes in singing. It improves stage presence, provides the basis of good support, and it also creates space in the body for breathing and focus. We need space in the abdomen for the diaphragm to expand (more on that in the next blog!) and good posture gives us that.
Lifting up out of the ribcage is another term that dancers are familiar with. This is a slight pivot at the sternum. Imagine that there is a string attached to your breastbone (or sternum) and someone is pulling it straight up. That should give you the proper pivot. It’s not like standing at attention—that will actually close off part of your back. The right pivot will open up both front and back of the mid-chest.
And finally we come to the head. No sticking out your chin! Once more, I want you to imagine that there is a string, but this one is attached to the crown of your head. If it is gently pulled up, then your chin will be very slightly tucked. This will create more space at the back of the throat for creating the perfect resonance chamber for your voice. (More on that in later blogs!)
You have just begun the very first steps of the most exciting journey of discovery! The discovery of your voice. And for more instruction, you can contact me, Annette Minnich, for professional music lessons in voice and piano at my studio in Albuquerque, New Mexico!