What is Proper Singing Posture?

Learn to Align the Body

Align your body from feet to ears for proper singing posture. Notice my head is back and my feet are shoulder width apart. Photo © Katrina Schmidt

Singers should understand the importance of good singing posture and use it while singing. Being at ease does not equal good posture. You may need to relearn how to relax while properly aligning the body. Not only does proper posture improve your vocal tone, but your overall health as well.

Align Body

If you remember only one element of proper posture it should be alignment. These body parts should be aligned:

  • feet to knees
  • knees to hips
  • hips to shoulders
  • shoulders to ears

Students often struggle to align their ears with their shoulders as they sing. Tip the chin down or elongate the neck. If the posture seems particularly unnatural as you sing, then it may be due to unnecessary jaw, throat, or tongue tension. Keeping the chin tucked will prevent some of that tension as you sing.

Rotate Pelvis

Several of my students who take dance lessons learned to suck in their abdomen in order to achieve alignment in the center of the body. This technique does not work for singing. Stomach muscles must be relaxed in order to breathe low. Instead of tightening the abdomen, rotate the pelvis to straighten the back. Tilting the pelvis also keeps the knees from locking. Some students may feel their hips and shoulders are properly aligned, but feel tension in the lower back. This is a good indication that the pelvis needs to rotate forward.

Rotating the pelvis too far forward causes tension in the upper thighs and buttocks.

Center Balance

In addition to alignment, your balance should be centered. Place your feet shoulder width apart and lean forward slightly so that much of your weight is on the balls of your feet. If it is more comfortable, then place one foot in front of the other.

Center the majority of your body’s weight over the feet. Leaning forward or back causes unnecessary physical strain.

Elevate Chest

Chest should be elevated when you sing, which helps you breathe using the diaphragm. Imagine a string pulling the center of your chest up to the ceiling. Be careful that your body stays relaxed as the chest rises. For many this is one of the toughest postural positions to physically endure, because it requires developing a postural muscle some are unfamiliar with using. I suggest practicing an elevated chest position throughout the day a little at a time.

Shoulders Down

Shoulder tension is common in western culture. It is possible to align the body and yet tense the shoulders. Instead relax them down. Imagine them as far away from the ears as possible. In neutral position, arms should hang relaxed on either side of the body. For beginning singers who struggle with posture, singing entirely in a neutral position is advised. Most choirs will ask singers to do the same. The position should not be thought of as stagnate or still, but neutral to avoid tension.

Relax

A rigid body is not a relaxed or healthy one. Though transitioning from bad to good posture takes effort and some amount of physical discomfort, listen to your body as you make adjustments.

If something causes pain, then avoid it. This is particularly true for those with curved backs, crocked necks, and other physical ailments.

One Way to Remember Proper Singing Posture

The acronym S.H.R.E.C. helps students remember postural elements of singing and presents the same material in a new, fresh way.

    S. - Shoulders down and align with hips creating a long straight line down the body
    H. - Hips align with knees and feet
    R. - Rotate pelvis so knees are unlocked
    E. - Ears align with shoulders (or elongate neck)
    C. - Chest high