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Singing Lesson #1 Most Important Vocal Technique To Reduce Strain

Updated: Aug 5, 2023

Singing lessons either increase or decrease tension. Whether the singer is a beginner or professional, they need to understand how the body works to be able to sing comfortably.

Antagonistic Muscle Reaction.

There, I said it. Sound scary? Understanding this simple scientific principle about how your body works will change everything about what you thought is proper vocal technique from taking a breath to belting out those loud, high notes.

Let's see if I can make it simple. Whenever you have a muscle working in one direction, another will be moving in the opposite direction. The easiest muscle to see and understand is the bicep muscle which used to lift the forearm up. Go ahead, feel your bicep muscle harden as you make the muscle pose shown below.

Now feel the tricep muscle on the bottom of the arm opposite the bicep muscle. In the picture, you can see both muscles. Notice that as your raise your arm, the tricep also hardens as the bicep pulls your forearm upward.

And here's the main thing, the faster you pull your arm up, the harder the tricep becomes. That's the antagonistic muscle reaction.

So what does that have to do with singing?

Everything. Simply put, whenever you do anything too quickly like breathing or belting, you will trigger a strong antagonistic reaction that will cause tension that makes singing harder than it has to be. Most singers either breathe too much air or breathe in too quickly. This will trigger your stomach, chest and upper back muscles to tighten as it resists the expanding chest and diaphragm.

Exercise. Take a deep breath slowly and notice how much air you took in and how your body feels at the top of the breath. Now, try to take the same amount of air in a split second. Do you feel the difference? You'll have to deal with all that tension while you're singing. It doesn't take a lot of air to sing (another scientific principle). Don't breathe too much or too quickly and you'll sing better and more comfortably.

Stay tuned for even more ways your singing is affected by the antagonistic muscle reactions. Youtube short non-antagonistic exercise:

If you've learned anything, please "heart"the blog and become a member. Or go ahead and try a lesson.

Thanks for your time and have a greaaaat day!

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2 Kommentare

Unknown member
21. Mai 2023

I like your comparison between taking a relaxed breath and a quick tense one. I do the latter when I’m nervous. I get jumpy and tense without realizing it so it helps that during a lesson you point it out when it happens. It’s a battle between my nature and technique but I’m working on it and thanks to you I’m getting better at recognizing the difference in how I sound. SY

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Craig Shimizu
Craig Shimizu
21. Mai 2023
Antwort an

That's great! And yes, it is a constant battle between what our bodies want to do and what it should do for singing. The other reason that this antagonistic reaction is the most important science understanding for singers is that the vocal folds themselves will react this way when forced.

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