Singing onstage places great demands on the body depending on the type of stage, costume and demands of the role you are performing. Sometimes circumstances combine to force the singer to adjust the position of their pelvis and neck. Any adjustment made can affect the singer’s breath capacity, postural alignment and best breath management.
Over time muscles can shorten if they are kept in a contracted position. Vocal Massage can help release and lengthen these muscles again, bring the body back into alignment, and let you sing with more ease.
In a Vocal Massage the muscles most relevant to singers (see Anatomy of the Voice section) are addressed. Each vocal massage is different as it is customised to the individual singer. After a postural assessment and discussion of problems you may be experiencing, a treatment plan will be agreed upon.
I treat muscles around the hips, diaphragm, upper torso, shoulders and neck and work on them as needed. Myofascial technique (see Massage Techniques) is used around the larynx as it is very gentle, non-invasive and effective for this area.
I also use trigger point work on ‘knots’ in the neck and jaw muscles. I will identify how the jaw is tracking and may massage muscles in the mouth (using gloves). Passive and active stretches are great for the neck and mobilisation of the shoulders and can be performed at home between treatments.
I believe that singers need to look at themselves as professional athletes in an increasingly competitive and physically demanding field. The potential performance capability of a singer is determined not only by their talent and training but also the condition of their voice, body and their emotional state.
Massage can help to release contracted muscles, relax the singer and build resilience and stamina by:
If we owned an oboe worth $1000s we would pack it up correctly, keep it oiled and dry, check the positions of the screws and the condition of the wood. We would have it regularly maintained by a professional to investigate areas of wear and tear and possible need for repair.
Why, as singers, would we not take the same care with our ‘instrument’?