Athleticism in Singing

Athleticism in Singing
Friday musings...

I speak about athleticism in singing a lot!  Why? Because there is.

The expectation in singing, to sing well, is to develop the intangibles of balance and coordination and grace into the tangibles of breath, support, endurance and more.

And just as learning dance combinations doesn't make you a dancer,  learning the music doesn't make you musical,  learning a sport doesn't make you an athlete,  learning to sing, doesn't make you a singer.

Athleticism is a system - both physical and psychological.  It is how you use your body, how you respond to your your body and how you develop your body for the function you wish to develop.

Athleticism is tangible and intangible.  It demands responsibility.  It demands attention.  It demands observation.  It demands DOING.

Athleticism means commitment and development.  Some singers have a more natural and innate athleticism, and some singers must learn it.  Athleticism comes in many forms and many levels of consciousness.  In singing, it demands a tangible summoning.  It demands a coordination of physical behavior to support and sustain the movement and demand of the intangible of breath and tone.

It demands a mental AND physical COMMITMENT to the task at hand, a determination to know HOW and WHY and a patience to develop the physicality - both exterior and intrinsic balance to SING with the entire body.

Athleticism in singing doesn't mean you have to have been a star athlete in school!

Athleticism in singing has to do with core strength, balance, cardio strength,  sustained power and endurance.  It doesn't have anything really to do washboard abs or pec development!

Looking like an athlete doesn't mean you can sing athletically.

Developing a strong cardio system,  a solid and flexible core, and an anchoring of physical power all begins the process of athletic singing.  The irony is simply, you might have all of this, but not know how to use it!  This is where training in the athleticism of singing is key.

It is the coordination of this and the building of the physical grace of this  that develops the balance of singing.

Often singing training dismisses the athleticism of the body,  and goes straight for resonance/register transfer/vowel transition etc.  I believe we miss the point when we forget the ENTIRE body supports the voice.  Often the issues lie in the disassociation of the body.

If we engage the entire body - from the floor through the crown - recognize the elasticity and the dimension of it - develop a working knowledge of HOW it functions - (and that working function is not by reading it is by DOING and practicing!) - exploring the alignment, the stretch, the lengthening strength of muscles and tendons - exploring the subtle shifts in structure - exploring the grounding and anchoring and engaging of core...ALL these things and more - we begin to athleticize our system to create a framework in which we can discover the intangible development of breath and tone.

Learning to OBSERVE our physicality and really understand it and ALLOW for shifts to occur is key to our knowledge and our recognition.  Oblivious singers are not athletic ones.

Athletes see;  they plan;  they follow through;  they recognize;  they stay in the moment;  they observe;  they realize.  They do this with their minds and manifest it with their physicality.

Singers, if they truly want to find the athleticism in their singing, must do the same.

Reading isn't enough;  copying isn't enough; You MUST learn about your physicality in order to discover what it can do, what it needs to do and what it might not be able to do.

Your singing body is an athletic one.  It is your responsibility to develop that athleticism fully in order to find the intangible truth of the voice.

Physical strength,  physical flexibility, physical engagement, physical elasticity, physical anchoring,  physical suspension - all have a place in singing.  The balance, coordination and strength have to be there in order for the instrument to thrive and function to its optimum.

Singing athleticism isn't from the larynx up;  It is from the floor to the sky.

If you haven't begun discovering it, perhaps it's time.

Susan Eichhorn Young covers all things voice—strong and sophisticated singing and speaking. 

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