Improve Singing Through Daily Activities
Singing students often feel guilty when they haven’t sat down and put in hours of uninterrupted practice every week. The thing is, there are ways for you to improve your singing just by having some self-awareness throughout the day!
If our bodies are our instruments, then their habits must be worked on to improve sound. What you do throughout your day directly impacts your singing ability.
Connect To Your Voice When You Wake Up
Where does your day begin? The few feet from your head resting on the pillow, to sitting up in bed, to walking to the bathroom. If you live alone, maybe you don't utter any sounds for a few hours; if you have housemates, a ‘good morning’ or conversation over coffee could be where you begin to vocalize. However, you are not really aware of how you are connecting to your voice here. If you sleep on a mattress that hurts your alignment, if you have naturally damaging habits, or if you spent the previous day dehydrated, you may start to speak in a damaging way!
Change up your morning routine.
When you wake up, do vocal fry on a few exhales. Do it while you brush your teeth and make coffee. If you have the time, lay on the floor in Alexander Technique's Semi-Supine or Active Rest position for five minutes while performing vocal fry.
Take Those Breaks At Work
It has been said time and time again, take small breaks throughout the day to move your body. This improves focus, body soreness, and mental health. Now let's add one to the list: It helps your singing too!
Try to take two to three small 5-10 minute breaks throughout the day to check in with your body. Ask your neck to to be free, your head to come forward and up in relation to your spine, and the spine to lengthen and widen in all directions. Simply sending these requests invites your psycho-physical relationship to improve and the body will respond, if only in small degrees at first, more drastically over time. Whatever tensions you are holding throughout the day don’t magically go away when it is time to sing.
Bring body awareness into your breaks at work. Take five minutes a few times a day to check in and give yourself a request to release. Feel your feet in contact with the floor. Think of your ankles extending deep into the ground with your head growing gently up from here, in relation to your back, which lengthens and widens as you sense your true height.
Renew these directions several times while breathing.
Jaw Tension Hurts Singing Ability
To all my teeth grinders and jaw clenchers, now is the time to become aware of your habit! Like all muscles, the more you use them, the stronger they get. Opening your mouth to sing is then restricted. It can be uncomfortable to try to stretch it open farther, and yet a free jaw is essential when singing as it must be able to move according to where in your register you are singing. Just like stretching any other muscle, you cannot will your jaw to be free and elongate to its maximum potential on the spot!
When you brush your teeth, wash the dishes, or are working at your desk, check in with your jaw and invite it to release one percent more. Do this repeatedly throughout your day and week to gradually stop jaw clenching and enable the muscles to loosen.
Bad habits and good habits are ingrained in our bodies the same way: through repetition. We cannot force our body to do the opposite of what it considers its normal 24 hours a day. However, we can permanently change how we use our body during daily activities and in turn, improve how we tap into the body's abilities during vocal production. How?
By using body awareness and patience to gradually replace bad habits with 'good use.'