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Vocal Fitness - Vocal Balance

Vocal Fitness - Vocal Balance

By Diana Yampolsky, Canadian Musician Magazine

vocal cartoon - three singersIT IS ALL ABOUT BALANCE!!

You will hear this statement from almost everyone... from new age gurus, from marriage counsellors - and, of course, from numerous fitness instructors. It's pretty much a cliche, but there is always something of a universal truth there in most of them. Especially when it’s concerning vocalists, the achievement of the total balance is extremely important. As I said again and again, successful singing performances are the result of a combination of the correct technical aspects, a healthy vocal anatomy and a willingness to share your "spirit" (your voice) with the audience. Ultimately, the successful singers must find the correct balance between the physical, emotional and vocal components.

Another statement which I often repeat is that "your voice is your instrument" and again it is so commonly stated because it really is a fundamental truth. Indeed your voice is your instrument and its performance is a direct result of how well you take care of it. You wouldn't spill water on your guitar and then expect that it will sound right, would you? Unfortunately, this is akin to what many people often do! To be able to deliver a technically correct singing performance in order to prevent yourself from doing any damage to your vocal anatomy, (thus continuing to maintain a healthy sounding voice), you really do need to be in a good physical, emotional and vocal shape. The question is; How can a singer or even a professional speaker (for that matter) reach the correct physical condition to benefit their performance overall...? Have you, my reader, guessed it yet? The answer is.... To maintain the total balance! What exactly is a balanced physique you may ask? First of all - it is when both the upper body and lower body are in proportion and are in coordination with each other.

For example, if you go to any gym in your city you will probably see some men that are so obsessed with having big arms and chests that they exercise their upper bodies way more than their lower bodies. As a result, they got huge upper bodies and skinny legs. Conversely, some people that are into activities such as skating or soccer may develop large muscles in their legs while being practically emaciated with respect to their upper body. In both cases, as a result, their physical body overall, obviously is out of balance.

Singers who are out of balance with very muscular legs and skinny upper bodies tend to slouch quite a bit and this type of posture is very detrimental for singing and human health overall. Their whole body is pointed down towards the ground and which is in direct opposition to what good singers are supposed to do - they tend to lift their entire body upwards as a way of lifting the sound off of the vocal cords (off of the vocal box in general), so that the sound of their voice will be able to resonate within their vocal chambers (sinus cavities). A comparison for a singer who slouches is such; When a plane tries to take off, (but due to excessive weight) is unable to reach the proper height, it most likely will crash down to the ground.

Singers who are physically out of balance due to a big upper body and skinny lower body are at an equal disadvantage. Again, while most people assume that singing is purely the domain of the throat and mouth, the truth is that most good singers use their legs to support the required posture necessary to lift the body upwards while singing. If the upper body is so heavy that the legs struggle to lift it upwards, then the sound will again not be lifted off of the vocal cords. Furthermore, if the singer tries to overcompensate for a weak lower body by flexing his chest and neck, this will overstress the upper body. That will result in a weak, shrill and unpleasant sounding singing voice. Therefore, the recipe for success is the right blend of a balanced body, mind, soul and, as a result, a pleasantly sounding singing voice. The achievement of all of that will equate to a reward for hard... but smart work!

The moral of it is; In a healthy body, there is a healthy spirit and... nonetheless, a HEALTHY VOICE!