What song do you want to sing?
Dec 21, 2020
Tonic: Boost, pick-me-up, energizer, refresher.
It is an interesting mysticism that surrounds the concept of singing. It is a natural expression of our body and yet somewhere in our history the act of singing became segregated from the masses and was allotted its own category as a profession. It truly is a wonderful art form, but what about the rest of the human race who are not or did not intend to pursue singing as a profession? Does this mean we should not sing? Our singing voice is a natural extension of our speaking voice and able to carry our emotions, thoughts, and feelings out of our bodies. So how does this affect the body and mind if we unintentionally or intentionally silence our voice? It could be very detrimental, but on the other hand, if we recognize that every BODY was meant to sing, then we may have rediscovered the simplest healing tool ever.
Physical Effects of Singing
Release of Endorphins
Singing is a natural antidepressant as it releases endorphins, your body’s “feel good” brain chemicals. The release of endorphins are associated with feelings of pleasure as well as stimulate the release of oxytocin, a hormone that is found to alleviate anxiety and stress. Endorphins also boost the immune system and relieve pain providing you with an overall health benefit.
Singing encourages deep breathing which draws more oxygen into your blood stream. Oxygen provides your brain with the much needed food for its functioning. The many benefits include: improved concentration, provides increased energy, and stimulates areas of the brain involved with memory, learning and concentration. Oxygen is your greatest and first source of energy. It is the fuel required for the proper operation of all body systems. It also calms the mind and stabilizes the nervous system.
Singing improves your musculature. It encourages better posture, tones the abdominal and intercostal muscles and the diaphragm. Singing also exercises many of the muscles in the face, head and neck, reducing muscle tension and promoting increased relaxation.
Singing promotes relaxation. By concentrating on breathing, lyrics, posture, and interpretation of a song, the mind is taken off of other aspects of life. Singing is like a built in stress-free zone. The physical increase of oxygen, the coordination of musculature, and the release of endorphins combine and lend itself to a feeling of relaxation as you sing and has lasting effects afterwards.
Start Singing Now
Even being aware of all these amazing benefits of singing, there may still exist the fear of being heard or sharing your voice. You do not have to perceive yourself as a “good” singer in order to start reaping the many benefits of singing, and the only way to improve is to actually start doing it! Here are a few suggestions to get you going so you can start accessing your very own built-in health tonic today.
- Put a playlist together of your favourite songs and sing along in the shower, car, or anywhere you like! Then take the next step and download lyric sheets and karaoke tracks from the internet and practice singing your favourite songs this way. Singing songs in this manner, increases your connection and understanding of the vocal process.
- Humming will have just as positive an effect! You don’t even need music, make up your own melody and just hum and vocalize however you want. Pick a pitch and sustain a vowel such as “eee” or “oooh” or “oooo” or “aaah”. Something as simple as singing a nursery rhyme or happy birthday will provide you with all the same benefits.
- Then if you want singing to be a more prominent aspect of your life consider joining a choir, taking singing lessons, jamming with friends or numerous other ways you can begin releasing your voice regularly.
The key to this simple health tonic is like anything else, you just have to do it. Try to see how you can fit singing into every day. It can be as simple as humming a tune or singing along with a song, to feel the immediate positive effects. It is a cumulative process too, if you add a little singing every day, the effects will grow and deepen. Sing for yourself, for your own fulfillment, sing for your overall well-being and happiness. You can tap into your own built-in health tonic right now. All you have to do is simply sing.
“Music is one of the longest standing self prescribed therapy in history.”
– Erin Seibert, Music therapist
Author: Tammy Frederick
Dec 16, 2019
There seems to be a lot of confusion about breathing when it comes to singing. Really all we are looking for is that the breath is allowed to fill into the lungs and exhale in a steady manner. It is actually detrimental to take in too much air before you sing a phrase in a song. If you ever have it that the voice sounds shaky especially as you descend in pitch, it is very often because you simply have taken in too much air that now has to find release.
Try taking in a normal amount of air as if you were in a conversation. No doubt some phrases in a song or a phrase that includes a long sustained note will require more air intake, but the majority of your phrasing will be quite normal.
The key in singing is to focus on the exhale, not so much on the inhalation. Your body will breathe in automatically and so focus on breathing out as you sing, easily releasing your air in a steady stream.
The best best best tool for this is to sing with Liprolls (motor boat sound with your lips) or Tongue Trills (rolling the front of your tongue). Sing all your favourite songs with a liproll or tongue trill and you will guarantee that you are singing with a consistent steady stream of air. In order for the lips or tongue to keep moving, you must be exhaling a steady stream of air which will quickly develop this muscle memory in your songs. It will also serve to keep the facial and throat muscles relaxed, which is ideal for singing.
Place one hand on your belly, just above your belly button. When you breathe in allow your belly to move FORWARD. As you exhale the belly will fall back. This is the action of your diaphragm contracting downward as you breathe in moving your organs slightly forward and as you exhale the diaphragm relaxes. The action downward allows your lungs to fully expand. Try to keep inhalations relaxed and full with tongue relaxed. If you are struggling with this watch someone breathe as they sleep, their belly will rise and fall with each breath. Or lay on the floor with your feet up on a chair, relax, and watch your belly rise and fall. Try to continue this easy breathing as you sing and speak.
Author: Tammy Frederick
Nov 18, 2019
The key to vocal endurance and easy release of the voice is to plan out where you are going to breathe in your song BEFORE you sing the song!
Take a moment to print off a lyric sheet or the sheet music and mark with a check mark with a pencil where you are going to breathe in your song.
Try to look at phrasing of your story - how you would speak the sentence.
Try to sing longer phrases, ie. two sentences together, rather than shorter; doing so will increase your breath capacity for those long notes at the end of the song.
Try to sing with those same breath marks every time you sing the song to build your muscle memory.
Note: Just because there is a rest, doesn't mean you should take a breath in. Sing through rests by simply exhaling rather than inhaling through them. If its hard at first, sing the last note before the rest longer to cover the rest until your body gets used to breathing out through the phrase, then go back to observing the rest with simply exhaling through it.
Try it and see the difference in your breath capacity!
"I can't explain it, but I'll find a song that can"
Author: Tammy Frederick