One word above all comes to mind when you think of singing training. Freedom. Freedom from strain, freedom from tension, and freedom from worry - and the last is the most elusive.
This is why, at VoiceHacker, we like vocal hacks which take away the worry; which allow you to get on with expressing yourself and let the singing take care of itself.
This particular vocal hack is a really smart combination of a whole bunch of others. It's a way of supporting the voice which combines a great posture, great support to the right areas, and a really nice image to help it stay in the brain. So here goes:
You might have heard of anchoring before - it's a term singing teachers use to describe what goes on in certain parts of the body when you sing. We want certain muscles in the back, the neck, and in the thorax to be activated when we sing, so that we can provide a stable platform for the delicate muscles of the neck and larynx to do their work. Chest anchoring is a way of combining loads of these different types of anchoring into one action.
Before we get into it, we're going to do a few postural exercises to check that there isn't any bodily tension.
- Release your feet against the floor. Relax your toes. Feel the ground with the raised arches of your feet. Clear them of any tension.
- Unlock your knees. Let them be soft - no locking backwards. Let them feel as though they could bend and move at any time.
- Take two hands and turn your hips forwards and back to release any tension in them.
- While keeping your feet grounded, imagine that you're being pulled lightly upwards like a puppet from where your neck meets your skull. The rest of the body should feel as though it's dangling down from this point. You should feel your back relax, not straighten or become too upright.
- Finally, relax the shoulderblades back and downwards. Make sure there is no tension in the pectorals or the trapezius.
This is an important step - anchoring tends to introduce tension into the body so we need to be sure that we're starting from a relaxed starting point. We're looking for a posture that has a straight line going from the arch of the foot to the knee, the hip, the shoulder and the ear.
Now for the gold. Take the palm of your hand and place it on your chest, just below your clavicle and above your sternum. Keep the feeling that you're dangling from the point at which the skull meets the head. Press yourself into the point where your hand is touching your chest, keeping the knees unlocked and making sure you're not leaning forward onto the balls of your feet.
Your chest should rise a little, becoming slightly 'nobler', and you should feel a little effort in the back of the neck and the back muscles. Your head should stay in nice alignment with the rest of the body. This can occasionally bring the chin down, so imagine looking out at Juliet's balcony to raise the chin a little.
Try singing. You should feel that the note comes easier. Any time that you require a bit more force in the note, you can push a little harder into the hand on your chest. Try some higher belts on a high-wailing 'yeah!' sound. Feel the difference?
Happy anchoring; happy singing; happy VoiceHacking.