The Core-Voice Connection

In my opinion, the core-voice connection lies at the heart of a voice that is easy to produce. There is a close relationship between the pelvis, ribcage and throat, through all of the tissues that span from the pelvic floor to the larynx.

The deep core is the deepest layer of muscles and includes the pelvic floor, the transverse abdominus as well as the diaphragm, the psoas, the multifidus and the muscles of the throat. We can extend this farther using Tom Meyer’s Deep Front Line and exploring fascial connections that run from the soles of the feet up to the tongue and neck. Truly the whole body is connected!

When vocal technique isn’t solving your voice issues, we often need to look at the rest of the body and the deep core is the first, most important place we can explore.

Habits that we have in the body can interrupt how well these parts relate. These include:

  1. Sedentary living – none of us move as much as our body is designed to move.
  2. Excess tension – we all carry extra tension in various parts of the body – bum, back, neck/shoulders belly, etc.
  3. Stress Level – never underestimate the ways stress shows up in the body – usually it is our body trying to get our attention, but most of us are experts in disconnecting from the body to keep moving through our lives.
  4. Breathing patterns – gripping in the belly and being a belly dominant breather can both have a huge impact on how the core and voice work together.

When we think about the core-voice connection we want to consider:

  1. How the ribcage is stacked over the pelvis.
  2. How well integrated the deep layer of the core is.
  3. How the ribcage moves when we breathe – are we missing one or more plane of movement?
  4. How the deep core responds to resisted airflow.
  5. How the deep core responds to vocalizing.
  6. How the deep core responds to movement.

A few very common patterns I see in singers bodies include excess tension in the shoulders, neck and throat/jaw, a belly that moves first and most when breathing, a ribcage that is thrust forward (like a bell that is rung forward), and a pelvis that tends to live in a tuck or a duck position and has a hard time finding neutral. Any or all of those tell me we could stand to do a little work on the deep core.

To get you started here’s an exploration to connect the pelvic floor and throat.

 Pelvic floor – Throat Connection

  1. Lie on the floor in constructive rest or sit quietly in a chair and stay for several cycles of breathing, letting the body release into the ground or chair.
  2. Bring your attention into your pelvic floor (every body has a pelvic floor, you can either focus on the vaginal opening or where the testicles are). Continue to breathe easily and notice the pelvic floor.
  3. Grip the pelvic floor and release it a few times.
  4. Now bring your attention into your throat. Keeping your attention here, grip the pelvic floor. Can you feel the corresponding grip in the throat?

Let’s try it another way:

  1. Lie on the floor in constructive rest or sit quietly in a chair and stay for several cycles of breathing, letting the body release into the ground or chair.
  2. Bring your attention into your vocal tract. Continue to breathe easily and notice the vocal tract from vocal folds up and out to the lips.
  3. Strongly purse the lips and release them a few times.
  4. Now bring your attention to your pelvic floor. Keeping your attention here, purse the lips strongly. Can you feel a response in your pelvic floor?

Evolutionarily, the throat and belly work together because a secondary function of the throat is as a valve that can close to give us leverage when lifting very heavy things (called a valsalva maneuver). That action helps increase intra-abdominal pressure (pressure inside the abdomen). And, a big part of singing with ease is managing pressure.

If your deep core isn’t well integrated, the muscles in the shoulders, neck, throat and jaw get recruited in to try and help you when you breathe, move AND produce your voice. What they are actually doing is getting in the way of your optimal sound.

To work towards an integrated deep core we want to address elements of our alignment, our breathing and begin to move in ways the help the body to work well.

To explore more about the deep core please see the post The Importance of Core Training for Singers, visit my Instagram page for a series of reels on the Core-Voice Connection, and when you are ready to address your deep core, the Singer Synergy Movement Series a 9 week movement class series focuses on this exact issue for singers!

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