BWW Blog: Bob Marks - The Importance of Posture in Your Singing

By: May. 20, 2016
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If you have ever attended a classical voice recital, you probably saw an elegantly dressed performer situated near the crook of a grand piano for the duration of the performance. Traditionally, recitalists remain standing with "noble" posture throughout their program, and only gesture with their hands and body for extreme emphasis.

Although in an audition situation an actor may opt for a similar amount of minimal movement, in musical theatre performances we are rarely given the opportunity to simply stand and sing. In fact, if cast in a show, you might be asked to do anything while you sing, from perform an elaborate dance routine to literally hang upside-down by cables. In order to keep your voice functioning optimally, you will want to practice singing in the most efficient manner possible, so your body gets used to what "ideal conditions" feel like. For most people, this means learning to stand in a tall, relaxed, balanced way. This allows you to make a habit of easy, unrestricted breathing and phonation, so when you step out on stage and are thinking about a thousand other things, your voice will still reflexively work the way you want it to.

Good posture allows your lungs to expand and contract more easily, and prevents unnecessary tension in your neck and jaw. For most people, standing with feet about shoulder-width apart is a great place to start from. You want to appear comfortable, confident, and relaxed.

It is also an undeniable fact that singing is a visual art form; freedom in the body translates to freedom of expression for actors. Your alignment will tell an audience a lot about you before you even open your mouth. Actors with good posture are able to breathe, move, and gesture in a much more organic and appealing way, regardless of whether they are playing a character with restricted movement or have to move in a large, dramatic fashion.

Noted vocal coach Bob Marks specializes in helping singers showcase their talents to their best possible advantage. He is in the process of writing a new book (with Elizabeth Gerbi) about auditioning for musical theatre. Until the book is published, is pleased to offer weekly bits of audition advice. Please feel free to submit any specific questions you'd like to have answered in these blogs.

Bob Marks maintains a busy vocal studio in New York City, working with performers of all ages and levels of experience. He also teaches performance workshops throughout the US and Europe. He was a pianist with the original Broadway production of Annie, and spent two seasons as the Associate Conductor of the St. Louis Muny Opera. For several years, he was the host and musical director of the acclaimed Youngstars performances of professional children in New York City. His well-known clients have included cast members of almost every current musical on Broadway, and stars such as Ariana Grande, Lea Michele, Natalie Portman, Laura Bell Bundy, Constantine Maroules, Britney Spears, Ashley Tisdale, Debbie Gibson, and Sarah Jessica Parker. He holds a degree in speech pathology, and has taught at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, the Professional Development Program for the New York Singing Teachers' Association, and at Nashville's Belmont University as a special guest artist. As a vocal coach, his clientele ranges from beginners to Broadway cast members, as well as singers of cabaret and pop music. He is an expert in helping performers present themselves to their best advantage in auditions and onstage.

Elizabeth Gerbi, Assistant Professor of Music Theater at the State University of New York at New Paltz, is well known across the Northeast as a singing teacher, voice coach, choral conductor, and music director/pianist (150+ productions). As a singer-actor, she has appeared in regional productions ranging from Annie Get Your Gun to I Pagliacci to The Kenny Rogers Christmas Tour. Recent projects include musical directing The Chris Betz Show at Rose's Turn and The Sage Theatre in NYC, Side Show and Tommy at Westchester Broadway Theatre, The Sound of Music at the Wagon Wheel Theatre of Warsaw, Indiana, conducting Dreamgirls and Seussical at Debaun Auditorium in Hoboken, NJ, adapting Starmites 2000 with Broadway composer Barry Keating, and accompanying master classes for Broadway veterans Ken Jennings, Lindsay Mendez, and Lisa Howard. She is also a former consultant for the Rodgers and Hammerstein Music Library, and currently serves as a both New York State School Music Association Solo Adjudicator and a respondent for the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. She attended Ithaca College (Bachelor's of Music in Voice Performance and Music Education) is a Level-III graduate in Somatic Voicework: The LoVetri Methodô, and completed a Master's in Music Education from Boston University.