In this blog article I want to show you a Full-Body Support technique that you can begin to use to your advantage in the next ten minutes. This technique will help you when you sing, but also when you speak.
Let’s start by locating the right muscles to use.
Position yourself first by standing sideways in front of a full-length mirror. I’m going to start you out in a “duck butt” position, which means standing with your “tush” sticking up and out. After you have settled into that position we’re going to make a change.
With your hands on your hip bones where they meet your legs, rotate your pelvis forward and under you, as if you were going to sit down on your tailbone. Your knees will soften as the angle of your pelvis tilts forward.
Basically it’s the way you would tuck your hips under your body to lift something heavy. It’s alright to feel some “tension” in your lower body when you are singing. This muscular tension provides the support for your tone. Focus your awareness on “tucking” your tush under and on keeping your upper body relaxed. Get under your sound.
This video from my digital flipbook The Art of Singing will help you understand the best position for good support.
Here’s how you will use it once you are satisfied that your positions match the above description.
First, place your fist directly below your navel. Squeeze the old air out, relax your jaw and open your throat so a fresh supply of air can fall in. Effortless! You don’t have to force the air in or tense up at all. In fact, I call this Passive Breathing, because it requires so little effort. After you gently squeeze out the old air, relax your throat and lower body. The new supply will just flow in automatically.
Passive Breathing is the way to get air into the body with the least amount of tension. Then you are set up to use your entire body to support your sound. For great examples of Full-Body Support go to YouTube and watch what these singers do. With their strong legs and loose upper bodies, they make it look and sound so easy and so appealing. And notice that whenever they get ready to go for the “big money notes” they tuck under, bend their knees and tilt back.
Now, try it yourself. As you press in with your fist (this is just to get the feeling) and contract your lower abdominal muscles around the air, make a short, buzzy sound – ZZZ. Feel the buzzy sound start in your lower abdominal area instead of your throat, jaw or mouth. Keep your jaw and lips totally relaxed. ZZZ. Check yourself in the mirror to ensure that you stay completely relaxed above the waist. To stop the ZZZ at the end of your out-breath, release your abdominal muscles, relax your jaw, and let the new air simply drop in. It’s totally easy!
I encourage you to sing with all of your body, from your toes to the top of your head. The body is like any vibrating instrument, and in order to get the maximum vocal production from it, the upper body must relax and move freely. Above the waist everything should be relaxed. But below the waist, your body should be working hard.
As with breathing, try to incorporate Full-Body Support into your speaking voice on a daily basis. Don’t wait until you’re onstage or in the studio; support must be in place and working for you long before then.