As of this writing, I have been studying singing for 36 years. I was incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by both great teachers and great performers. However, there was always one thing that bothered me with almost every singer I worked with…their idolizing of high notes. The sopranos idolized the C6, and the tenors tried their hardest to screech out spectacular C5’s, often failing miserably. It didn’t stop in university either but rather intensified as every accolade was based on how high a singer could sing. Later in life, after years of performing and then sailing into the adventurous waters of teaching, I realized something. Singing is not about pitch. Singing is about posture. It’s about memorizing the position of muscles. In my search for perfect technique, it was the philosophy of “Posture, not Pitch” that carried both myself and my students through. I continue to use this philosophy today.
What is the Correct Posture?
There is no one answer to this question. In a previous post, I talked about the three ingredients of singing. These ingredients are breathing, open throat and resonance. Singing becomes easier when these elements are engaged correctly. From there, the focus turns to performance rather than technique. This engagement is essentially the “posture.” However, in order to sing properly, the singer not only learns the posture but memorizes it through muscle memory.
Memorizing the Shape
The easiest way to accomplish this is to start with proper breathing techniques. This is the easiest part of singing to learn. However, this can take some time as the feeling is quite awkward. Next, implement lower larynx exercises. This will train the larynx to keep from rising and thus, open the throat, getting rid of the “strangle” feeling. The next step is the most difficult. This step is resonance. Resonance is formed by the position of the tongue and soft palate. The slightest changes in the position of these muscles can alter the sound. It is at this crucial stage that the singer must be patient, meticulously memorizing the positions as they find sounds they like. The step can only improve through much repetition.
Don’t Be Afraid
Every new student that comes to our studio is afraid of singing high notes. Their fear causes their throat to squeeze, making the upper range impossible to sing. In order to overcome this obstacle, every singer must change their focus. The fear of singing in our upper range can be eliminated if your concentration is on your posture, not pitch.