April 8, 2024

About the Author: Urpi

Urpi teaches vocals at S&C singing in Dubai and loves helping her students excel and become the best singers they can be!

Without a doubt, one of the pillars of a good singing technique that allows you to develop a voice to its maximum potential is relaxation.

However, quite often, it is difficult for singers to understand the concept and the principles of relaxation in singing and reach a satisfactory level of it. But do not worry; now I will clarify all your doubts and explain to you what singing coaches mean when they say, “You need to be relaxed for singing”.

Relaxed state of mind but ready to sing

Mind and Body Free of Barriers and Obstacles

Frequently, the state of relaxation is confused with the image of letting the arms and shoulders fall, including the neck and even the posture, in other words, relaxation is confused with leaving the muscles as flaccid as possible.

In this sense, since we are children, we learn that relaxation is the antonym of tension. Although this definition is not entirely incorrect in general, in singing, relaxation goes a step further and can be understood in two ways.

First of all, relaxation in singing is about disconnecting and getting rid of worries and tensions on a mental and physical level. All those concerns cause the body to go into an extreme self-defence mode that prevents the singing voice from being freely emitted without unnecessary barriers and obstacles, as the muscles that we need for singing become rigid.

For this reason, in the previous article, “Why Should We Stretch The Body Before Singing?” I explained that stretching the body, especially the parts of the body that the Vocal System uses, helps you to be mentally prepared for singing and to optimise your performance.

Relaxation and compression in balance

Vocal Relaxation and Compression in Balance

Secondly, and this is what singers the majority of the time fail to understand or find quite hard to put into practice, is that relaxation in singing goes hand in hand with tension.

In fact, we need relaxation to be accompanied by tension but with the necessary amount of tension, as all types of physical exercises, like singing, require muscular tension.

This tension begins in an attitude or mentality of “strength” that is transferred to the muscles to make the necessary effort. What gives strength to these muscles is our brain, as it is what sends the order for the muscles to activate to do their task.

Once the signal is sent, the muscles, when exerting force, are attacked by the effort and defend themselves, recruiting tissues to contribute to the effort. This explanation also reinforces what we saw in previous lectures, such as “The Correct Posture for Singing,” where it was explained that the body must be relaxed but activated in an aligned and straight position ready for singing and not abandoned or in a flaccid state that blocks singing.

This way, the muscles will gain strength and elasticity if the effort is made continuously and systematically. If the muscles are relaxed and inactive all the time, they tend to atrophy and lose their tone.

Consequently, it is not by just relaxing the muscles that we make them more resistant to effort but, on the contrary, we must tense them gently and expose them to the maximum effort they can withstand but always without exceeding the limits to avoid damaging them and with the correct dose of relaxation as well.

Nonetheless, as the word “tension” is more associated with a rigid state, me as a vocal coach, as well as other colleagues, prefer to use the word “compression” as this synonym explains better what happens in the vocal cords, they get together so the air vibrates there and the sound is generated.

Not only that, there is also compression in the core to support the notes we sing.

Compression in singing is essential but, again, in the correct amount and at the same time, there is relaxation, so singers must get used to the feeling and sensation in the body of this opposition; while certain parts of the Vocal System are compressed, others are relaxed.

Certainly, the development of the voice requires the development of the larynx muscles, which are the vocal cords and other muscles.

Therefore, in order to bring our voice to an optimal state, we have to train it like other muscles are trained with the right mix of relaxation and compression.

As we have mentioned in other articles also, singing is about balance, and that is what we vocal coaches mean when we say singers need to be relaxed, it means singers need to have relaxation and compression in balance and with the correct training and the appropriate teacher you learn to regulate these forces internally and master your voice.

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