For those of you teaching singers in schools across the world, congratulations, most of you are just beyond the halfway point of your annual teaching cycle. For you choral directors leading in churches, the current church year is only a couple of months old, but you’re well on your way toward Easter Sunday. Regardless of where you are in your choral music leadership this year, it’s always a good time to stop and have a quick mid-year posture check. I hope these simple reminders are helpful to you as you shape singers of all kinds.
FEET: Choristers need to be reminded to keep their feet about shoulder-width apart, with one foot slightly in front of the other. This foot posture provides the body a solid and balanced foundation on which all other posture components depend.
KNEES: Let’s remind our singers to keep their knees “free to move.” Locked knees can lead to imbalance and restricted blood flow, resulting in lightheadedness or even worse. We all have stories about the singer who passed out because their knees were locked.
RIBCAGE: Our singers must be constantly reminded to position and suspend their ribcage in a high and open position. This position allows maximum room for lung expansion during inhalation and phonation. The biggest contributor to decreased lung capacity is the fallen ribcage.
SHOULDERS: “Up, back and down” is where the shoulders rest best while singing. Shoulders that are rolled forward indicate a fallen rib cage. When the shoulders are resting in their proper place, the potential for maximum rib cage expansion can be fully realized.
NECK: The neck should be upright and free; never jutting forward, nor crammed backward. Both the jutting neck and forced-back neck can create great tension in the vocal mechanism, leading to poor phonation and fatigue.
HEAD: Remind singers to rest their head comfortably on their upright neck, with eyes straight ahead as jaw-line rests nearly perpendicular to the ground. If the chin is too low, the vocal mechanism will be compromised. When the chin rests too high, tension may be found in the neck and shoulders.
If you're interested in more advice for tackling the challenges of the choral year, check out our article "Advice for Running the Choral Marathon" here!
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