Updated: Jan 31, 2021
Want to sing one of your favorite songs, but can't quite hold out that impressive long note at the end? Your favorite singers may sound like they were born with magical vocal folds, but they're not the only ones who can sing like that. Your own body can be trained to do that too with the right attitude and discipline. Here are some main aspects to keep in mind when practicing sustaining that amazing note:
Structure: Your body must be in a position free of unnecessary tension in order for the rib cage to be expanded before breathing air into the lugs. A lifted and open rib cage is essential for the lungs to be able to expand to full capacity.
Method: A method I draw upon when working on proper body alignment is the Alexander Technique. The process works on recognizing and changing our "bad habits" that can interfere with our freedom of movement. You can also study the structures of your body to educate yourself on correct alignment. This technique is known as Body Mapping.
Abdominal muscles - Tightening the abdominal muscles while holding out a note can create a beneficial chain reaction.
As displayed in the diagram on the right, contracting the abdominal muscles can push on the middle of the abdomen, which in turn pushes on the diaphragm to then press up on the bottom of the lungs. The result is an increased steady stream of pressure in the lungs.
Rib cage muscles - The rib cage must be strong in order to oppose the natural elastic coil of being pulled inward while sustaining a sound.
Trained vocal folds ("cords"):
The vocal folds act as a valve that controls the airflow from the lungs. Making sure the vocal folds are not too far apart or too pressed together will prevent air from escaping the lungs too fast or too slowly.
The singer must practice when to make these adjustments in their body, as many of them are unnatural to the average person.
I am always monitoring to see if a student needs help working on these important aspects. Training under the guidance of a voice teacher is ideal for progress and making sure that the techniques are implemented healthily. If you want help implementing these techniques in your singing, feel free to reach out to me directly to schedule a consultation!