Page 8 - Voice for Life Yellow Workbook
P. 8

Using and developing the back muscles
  The back is covered in muscle and is much stronger than the front of the body. The muscles in the back can be used to support your voice. This enables you to draw on a far larger range of muscles than just the diaphragm; it also helps avoid over-use of the diaphragm.
The main back muscles that support the sound are the latissimus dorsi and the quadratus lumborum (see diagram). The exercises below use these muscles. But you can use other muscles too (notably the trapezius which runs from just below the middle of the spine to the neck).
Latissimus dorsi
Quadratus lumborum
    The sensation of using the back muscles
Exhale sharply. One of the functions of the quadratus is to cause this movement. If you used enough effort, the latissimus will have helped out too. Did you feel your back muscles tightening? Now bend forwards and rest your hands on your lower back. Try to feel your flanks (the fleshy area that runs down from your back across your hips). Now exhale sharply again. Did you feel the muscles working that time?
 Strengthening the back muscles
Choose a comfortable starting note. Repeat the exercise several times, moving up a tone each time. Before singing each phrase, exhale forcefully. It may seem strange to sing after exhaling, but this forces the back muscles to support the sound. Take care not to close your throat: the air needs to pass through without hindrance.
     
ha ha ha ha ha haw haw haw haw haw hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo
                       
ha ha ha ha ha haw haw haw haw haw hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo
           etc. ha ha ha ha ha
haw haw haw haw haw hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo
                              Aim to reach the point where your back muscles feel just slightly tired. With practice, it should get easier and the muscles will strengthen. You will then find that these muscles are working as you sing and you will not keep running out of breath.
If you feel dizzy when singing this exercise, it is because you are using too much air and hyperventilating. This may be because you generally take in too much air when you sing. Try not to take a big breath before the exercise. You should have expelled all the air by the end of each phrase. Simply take in enough breath to recover between each phrase.
When rehearsing in a cold church or hall, it is natural to raise your shoulders to try to keep warm. But this actually makes you colder because it limits the blood supply to the heart. It also tightens the throat muscles, which can lead to tension in the jaw. Relaxing the shoulders allows the blood to circulate more easily, which will keep you warmer than if you raise them.
  8 Module A: Using the voice well

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