by Amanda Jane Snyder
I have always loved singing. It's actually part of me, being a theatre actor, seeing as I have a degree in Musical Theatre Performance.
And ever since I have been in this industry, I have known a lot of singers. Each one of them has different ways of preserving and preparing their voices for shows.
Some of them have their own voice and speech coaches who guide them and help them improve their singing. Most always do vocalizations and always hydrate themselves. But among all of those that I know, I have not known many who strengthen their core to improve their singing ability.
If people in the theatre industry ARE doing core exercise, most of them are just doing core exercises to have a good body or figure so that they will appear more "castable". But there is something more behind core strengthening exercises that could greatly help singers and theatre actors.
I really began to question why others are not giving much importance to doing exercises that strengthen their core in preparation for shows or even just to keep their voice in its best condition.
And then I realized, it's because most of them don’t know how to use their core.
Which is crazy 'cause THEY’RE SINGERS. Singing comes from our core. Singing comes from our diaphragm.
Now, since they do not know how to use their core, they experience some things that they think are normal but are actually signs that their core is weak. They experience lower back pain, hip tightness and weakness, strain in their shoulders, neck, and throat, breathing difficulties, poor posture, etc. If you have a weak core, you have a weak body. Our core is the foundation of fitness.
Trust me, I struggle with this too, most of us do actually. And it’s because our bodies continue to adapt to the way we’ve been living. Right now, most of us have been living in a way where we can overcompensate in other areas and basically avoid using our core at all. Just the daily acts of sitting, waiting for the bus, walking... we've all gotten so used to do these activities without any core engagement at all.
For singers, a weak core hinders their ability to sing and perform at the same time. Harvard Holden Voice Program Faculty, Sarah Whitten, even noted in one of her blogs that "a well functioning core is crucial not just for pain-free movement, but also for the voice to perform optimally."
Thus, our core should be engaged and active in daily activities. Furthermore, your core should be used in all fitness exercises, not solely core exercises as seen in the above overhead press. An overhead press can easily be done without any core engagement at all which is a potential sign of a weak functional core: you're inability to use your core in movememt. And as theatre artists, shouldn't we always be using our core in movement?
Try this and trust me your singing will really improve.
Amanda Jane Snyder is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Corrective Exercise Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer, and Mindset Coach living in Brooklyn, NY. She has been vegan for 4 years. She specializes in Strength and Conditioning for Actors, Singers and Dancers.