Judy Rodman - All Things Vocal Blog

Training & insights for stage and studio singers, speakers, vocal coaches and producers from professional vocal coach and author of "Power, Path & Performance" vocal training method.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Vocal importance of Spinal position and movement

The position and movement of the spine makes an enormous difference in the breath support and breath control issues of a vocalist, as well as resulting tone, pitch, range and degree of vocal strain.
  • The position of the spine:
  1. If a habit of slouching or being a guarded postural stance (chest closed in) is changed to a flexible, tall, open stance -- improvement in vocal ability is instant.
  2. You can try singing while standing at the wall with your head and heel flush against the wall to ensure you are not slouching.
  • The movement of the spine:

The LOWER (lumbar) spine should be stable and rather straight... avoiding the "swayback" shape is very important. There is a curve, but the spine here should feel like a very sturdy "base of operations". You will find it important to keep a slight bend in the knees to keep the back from bending in the swayback shape.

The diaphragm also has a "root" of fibers that attach to the lumbar spine. Stretching the lumbar spine out helps stabilize the diaphragm's movements. Looks like Elvis might have known more than he realized!

  1. Movement to the "dance of the groove"-- even slight movement -- helps to keep the knees from locking and the lumbar spine from swaying back too much.
  2. Performance coach Diane Kimbro uses some creative imagery to help with this: She suggests that you think of your hips as a bucket. Simply don't "spill the water" at the front! You'll find yourself tipping your pelvis back a bit and your lumbar spine feeling much better.
  3. Another thing you can try is to stand in such a way that you can't be pushed over. To stabilize yourself, you'll find yourself assuming a stable lower spine.

The UPPER spine should be much more flexible than the lumbar area. Think of a tree -- the trunk is somewhat straight and less flexible, the branches are bending with the wind.

  1. There is a point in your upper spine right below your shoulder blades that where you should bend in such a way as to open the chest. Try putting your hand in the "uncle" position, then pressing forward so the chest opens. You'll find yourself inhaling automatically.
  2. Students of Power, Path & Performance will recognize this point (I poke you there, don't I?). It is where you can affect the diaphragm by giving it more space when the ribcage is opened, enabling a good inhale AND a controlled exhale.

Watch other great vocalists with control and beautiful tone... you'll see these points in their posture and in the movement of their spine. Try it... you'll like it!

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