Need Support? Your Singing Voice Does!

Monday, December 28, 2020
England, UK

In my last blog post, we talked about the best posture for singing. If you haven't read that one yet, click here to read it – it's vital for moving onto today's topic: support!

If you'd like a more visual demonstration that's more kid-friendly too, I make a series called Mindful Music Monday for Hannah's Homeroom IGTV. Check it out here!

Support is so important for the voice. Making sure your sound is healthy protects it in the long run, improving stamina and reducing the risk of future vocal complications, like nodules. When I was 19, I was hospitalised with a chronic condition, which reduced the efficiency of all of my muscles – including my vocal cords. I had to learn how to sing all over again! But I wasn't able to rely on just one muscle group anymore – as I had previously only focused on my core muscles to support my voice (we'll look at what those are later). So, I developed the Ost-method, which gets in touch with your whole body to find support from everywhere.

So, let's find out how best to support your singing voice...

Use your legs!

The best support comes when you're completely grounded, so imagining a weight drawing your feet into the ground will really help support your voice. Like in last week's post about posture, a bend in the knees will also help to stabilise the sound. A good exercise to practice this is to do a half-squat – bending the knees halfway like you're about to sit down in a chair. Grip the floor with your toes and feel the support of the imaginary chair behind your calf muscles.

Core Support

Told you we'd come back to this one! Your core muscles are sometimes referred to as your pelvic floor and you may have come across them if you practice yoga, pilates or ballet. A good way of accessing your core support is to stand against a wall and try to flatten the arch in your back against the wall. Or, hold a plank for a minute or so and feel the burn in those muscles under your belly button. Practice isolating these muscles – drawing the belly button to the spine – and engage them when you sing for better breath support and stamina.

Strengthen your diaphragm

The diaphragm is a bit like a sheet of elastic, which lies at the base of your ribs. When you inhale, it bends downwards to allow more air to fill the lungs. When you exhale, it bends upwards to push air out of the lungs. You can strengthen the diaphragm (thereby "increasing" lung capacity) by doing a little diaphragm workout every day. Try singing ha-ha-ha-ha-ha to an arpeggio (notes 1, 3 and 5 of the major scale). Place a hand below your ribs to feel the diaphragm pulsing.

"Oranges under the armpits"

My main students are children, and this one always gets them giggling. Imagine you have two oranges and place one under each armpit. While you belt or sing any kind of note that requires a lot of power, imagine juicing those oranges using your arm muscles! Don't squeeze your arms right into your sides (too much tension will squash the oranges flat!) But too little pressure and you'll have no juice at all. It's about finding the balance – creating a small amount of resistance under your arms, without creating tension in the shoulders. Have a practice and figure out what feels good for you.

The Ost-method incorporates singing techniques with the mind-body connection, to find strategies that are specifically tailored to you. Every voice is different, so every vocal routine will be too. To start your vocal journey, send me a message or find out more information over at the Book A Lesson page!

Share your opinion: