Life has evolved to the point where digital downloads and updates are a daily essential if we want to be faster and more productive. Science is advancing the ways we eat, exercise and socialize so that we can be stronger and live longer. Why is it then, with so much progress, the way we train singers has come to a standstill?
In a nutshell, the vocal mechanism is similar to outer space. There is so much we know about it and so much more that still remains a mystery. Now, in the 21st century, there is a need for experts from different disciplines to work together in order to create innovative practices and procedures for the elite singer of today.
For example, laryngeal surgeon Dr. Steven Zeitels, who lectured at the 2012 Future Now Grammy event in Los Angeles, is continuing cutting edge research with the support of some legendary singers. Dr. Zeitels explains why analyzing a high performance singer, like Steven Tyler, is analogous to working with a high performance or Olympic level athlete; and how it helps us better understand, “what happens in the midst of a high performance concert.” Watch National Geographic’s excerpt from “Incredible Human Machine” (featuring Steven Tyler and Dr. S. Zeitels).
Singing is an athletic event because it involves entire body systems (i.e. neuromusculoskeletal). With millions of dollars spent every year in sports science research, it only seems fitting that we should also be able to identify and use valuable information that is specific to voice performance. If singers are like athletes, then the question is: as singers, how can we use information gained from cutting edge interdisciplinary research to advance our training?
The vocal folds are so tiny they are essentially the size of your thumbnail (“Incredible Human Machine”). So, how can you train that small entity to be the powerhouse and power source for voice performance? In short, you can’t! Instead of focusing on the little vocal folds to train the big muscles related to singing, we can now train the big muscles with specific neuromuscular recruitment patterns (i.e. muscle contraction sequences) to target and improve performance of muscles like the transversus abdominis for improved voice performance as well.
Historically, singers have been afraid to ‘push the boundaries’ of singing, because of fear of injury. When the pressure is on, some singers resort to audio/computer technology to support them for improved power and/or quality of sound. However, through the use of new tools based on scientific evidence that focus on increasing voice-core strength and conditioning, singers can be more powerful and have greater stamina, without being fearful of overuse injury.
As a sports-specific strength and conditioning Pilates2Voice® practitioner, I regularly collaborate and confer with laryngologists, vocal coaches and other music industry professionals, while also staying current with sports science research, certifications and continuing education from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and the Performing Arts Medicine Association (PAMA).
I often ask myself after years of study, practice and developing the Pilates2Voice® technique: what is the benefit to having music, science and sports related degrees or certifications, and professional performance experience?
It doesn’t take a Doctorate degree to teach or train singers and athletes, but it does take an advanced education to understand complex theories, and to figure out how to “KEEP IT SIMPLE.”
The Practice and Regimen: Simple Steps
Singers should have similar regimens for strength and conditioning like that of a high performance athlete. Exercises performed for improving athletic performance of the voice and the core simultaneously should be customized so that one can monitor (target goals) and measure (repetitions). Workouts should be progressed by increasing resistance and/or repetitions to create a training regimen similar to those of elite athletes. Initial training should involve diagnostic and instructional sessions and continue with feedback and facilitation from the practitioner/coach, until the final stage where the client becomes independent.
“All body shapes and sizes can have expert level Core Strength.”
The artist PINK took singing to a whole new level with her aerial-singing performances. I am grateful for her vision, because it led to my discovery of the extent I could train singers. As a soprano and performing artist myself, I’ve enjoyed exploring the new discipline of aerial-singing (harness & wire). Extreme singing is not for everyone, but it’s empowering to know what it takes to do it! You don’t have to aspire to become an aerial-singer to benefit from the new cutting edge strength and conditioning techniques. However, you do have to commit to something with an Olympic level of discipline in order to fully realize its potential.
Pilates2Voice®: A Summary of Benefits
• Improved vocal power and stamina
• Improved breath management and breath control
• Improved posture and performance body
• Increased vocal range - both lower and higher
• Improved core stability and balance
• Improved core strength and conditioning
• Improved confidence and reduced performance anxiety
• Improved overall athletic performance of the voice-core connection™ & prevention of overuse injury
*All diagnostic and instructional sessions must be performed and facilitated by a Pilates2Voice® Practitioner
Performance Tips based on Pilates2Voice® Principles:
- Try this Tip for posture and performance body: Don’t roll to the outside of your feet, but rather grab the floor gently with your toes while you are singing.
- Find out why you shouldn’t chew gum at least 48 hours before a performance.
- Learn why physical warm-ups utilizing energized breathing should be used before a vocal warm up.
- Learn strategies for better concentration, like keeping your eyes open and focused, especially when learning new songs.
- Find out why you shouldn’t push the belly out when you initially breathe in or when you sing (i.e.exhale).
- Learn why traditional Pilates is not recommended for improving voice performance.
- Discover why maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle with good nutrition and physical rest needs to be part of your regimen.
Whether your aspiration is to be on the world stage or to just sing better in the shower, continue training as an ELITE SINGER by learning Pilates2Voice® exercises like The Dorothy™, Bubble-Nose-to-Mouth-Breath-IN™, and Anchor the Armor™.
Join Dr. Veera Asher on April 16th for a MusiCares World Voice Day Event at The Recording Academy in Los Angeles.
Dr. Veera Asher is the creator of Pilates2Voice®. She is currently working with clients to enhance voice performance, athletic performance, create new aerial-singers, and reeducate for prevention of overuse injury. She works in collaboration with medical professionals. Dr. Asher is a Provider for MusiCares.
Please visit www.pilates2voice.com for more information and testimonials.
© 2013 Dr. Veera Asher