One of the questions I hear most often from singers is, “Why do I need a movement practice?”
My simple answer is “because every activity is a whole body activity and singing is no exception.”
The slightly longer version is this:
Our bodies are tensegrity structures and that means we are held together through a series of compressions and tensions, pushes and pulls. When we push or pull on one part of the body via movement or singing, the entire rest of the body responds.
When we study vocal pedagogy in school, we tend to learn about the voice and body by breaking down systems and parts – skeletal anatomy, muscle names, respiration, resonance, phonation. That can be useful for our brains to learn However, the body does not work in individual systems and parts!
It all works together, all the time. This is what is behind people saying “the whole body is your instrument.” I call it Vocal Interdependence.
Vocal Interdependence means our voice is a complex interplay of respiration, phonation and resonance and all of those systems are impacted by and inextricable from the skeletal, nervous, circulatory and muscular systems.
We can assess how our body is in a static state through alignment. That can give us clues to patterns we hold in the body like, do you tend to swing your ribcage forward, does your pelvis drift forward, are you a supinator or a pronator in your feet. But, the way we make lasting changes to how the body responds to the pushes and pulls is movement
In the singing body we are especially interested in how well integrated the deep core is. Within the torso, we want to consider how the spine moves in all six directions, how the shoulders and hips move, how the ribcage relates to the pelvis and how the pelvic floor, diaphragm and throat are working together.
Every singer has their own unique set of patterns in the body.
Our patterns come about from
- Our habitual ways of moving
- The ways in which we haven’t moved (i.e. do you ever hang from a pull up bar)
- Our thinking about our bodies
- Our stress level
- The traumas we have experienced throughout our lives
When it comes to the singing voice, we can develop it by addressing vocal technique, but what about the issues that arise that aren’t solved by technique? What if vocal production can be made easier by moving the whole instrument and not just focusing on the lungs and larynx? I have found after working with hundreds of bodies over the last 20+ years that when we address the entire instrument the voice changes too.
I made a reel on Instagram recently that gives you a quick and dirty example of this using a tensegrity structure. You can click here to view the reel.
I created the Singer Synergy Movement Class Series with the singer’s body in mind. This 9 week series is designed to create connections in the deepest layers of the torso, building strength and suppleness leading to better balance throughout your instrument.