Want to Sing Better? Learn to relax!

Step 1 in preparing the body for a performance or practice is to "Learn to Relax".  

neckandshouldersRotate your head to allow the muscles in your neck and upper shoulders to relax. Dip your chin to your chest and hold your head there for the count of 5 (1-2-3-4-5). You should be breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth. This will expand the diaphragm and ribcage while it keeps your shoulders stationary, meaning they should not be moving up and down with each breath. This will also help determine whether you are breathing properly from the diaphragm or not.

As stated in an earlier article, I would like to give you more information on relaxing the body, your muscles and your mind before a practice or performance.

Relaxing the mind will come automatically if you focus on what you are doing to relax the body and muscles used to sing. By focusing only on singing and relaxing, rehearsing can become like a form of meditation. As you are focusing on relaxing tense muscles and breathing, try to block everything else from your mind.

When you are preparing to sing; whether it be for a performance or just rehearsing, your mind should be focused on preparing your body and mind. Continue to focus on tongue placement, breathing properly from the diaphragm, becoming aware of what muscles in the body are tense and then releasing that tension. This cannot be achieved if you are thinking about the fight you had with your boyfriend/ girlfriend or any other stressors that may be in your life.

Become aware of what your body is doing and telling you. When you sing, your face muscles should be completely relaxed. This means there should be no tension in your jaw. If there is tension, it will limit your ability to hit those higher and lower notes you want to achieve. Common areas for tension are:

  • the tongue
  • jaw
  • shoulders
  • neck
  • throat
  • back
  • arms

 I have a few exercises I would like to share with you that will help you to achieve the relaxed form you want to have before any performance. With some practise, you will eventually be able to do all of these exercises in a matter of 10 to 15 minutes and achieve the relaxed form I’m talking about.

How to Relax

 First, clear your mind and focus only on your breathing and finding the tension spots in the body.

Take your arms and swing them as hard as you can to the front of your body all the way up above your head. Then let them drop – swinging them as far as you can to the back of your body behind you. This will loosen the shoulders and chest area.  While swinging the arms forward, breath-in through your nose…on the down swing to the back swing you should be exhaling slowly out of your mouth. Your focus should be on breathing-in on the upswing and breathing-out (exhaling) on the downswing. Do this 10 times.

Now move your head and touch your left ear to your left shoulder without raising the shoulder. If you cannot reach your shoulder, then just go as far as you can until you feel a comfortable pull in opposite side of the neck. Hold that position for the count of 5 (1-2-3-4-5) then straighten out your head and move it back to the center looking forward. Repeat this motion on the right side and then to the back. Repeat the count of 5 in each position and focus on breathing-in through the nose and out through the mouth. 

Now lets focus on releasing tension in the torso, arms, shoulders and chest area.

armcirTake your arms and shake them out slowly at first, and then more vigorously. Twist the upper body, keeping the hips stationary. Remember to focus on breathing from the diaphragm. Even though there is movement from side to side while shaking your arms vigorously, DO NOT STOP BREATHING or hold your breath. You must breathe through every exercise by breathing in slowly and deeply – in through your nose and out through your mouth without raising your shoulders.

 Last and probably the most important exercise is to make sure the mouth throat and tongue are relaxed.  Believe it or not, the jaw can have a tendency to carry a lot of tension. Take your bottom jaw and move it back and forth from side to side. You can do this even while your singing to release tension in that area.

To relax the tongue, let your tongue hang out of your mouth (like a panting dog), count to 5 (1-2-3-4-5) while you focus on breathing. Now twist your tongue from one side of your mouth to the other. You should feel a pull on the muscles at the back of the mouth just behind your molars.

mouth_palateAnother great exercise to help warm up the throat is to open your mouth as wide as you can and raise and lower the pallet (the dangling piece of flesh in the back of your throat). If you look in the mirror and yawn, you'll notice that  the pallet disappears to the top or roof of the mouth. This is the desired affect you want when practicing this exercise. You will learn to control this movement and it will aid in helping you to achieve those higher notes you are looking for. Eventually all of this will become second nature to you and you will be able to achieve the desired results in about 10 to 15 minutes.

Doing these exercises regularly will help you to become a better singer. 

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