Back in March, the Blogmeister mentioned the concept of the singer or musician as a small muscle athlete. http://dusty-beam.flywheelsites.com/2015/03/02/windward-notes-athletics-in-the-rehearsal-hall/. But what about the big muscles? We’re hauling big chunks of air in and out of ourselves and those big air bags are attached to our back and our chest and our shoulders and our opu. It stands to reason that if all of those are in good shape, the singing will be in good shape as well…right?
So what kinds of exercises help singers? There are several that come to mind, but first I need to make my attorney happy. I’m not a doctor or a fitness professional, heck I’m not even in very good shape. Before you start ANY exercise program, have a chat with your physician. He’ll be thrilled that you’re doing it and may have a couple words of wisdom to pass on. Also, start slowly. If you overdo things early in the process it’ll just make you sore and disappointed and chances are you’ll trade the new sneakers in for a bag of potato chips and binge watching Netflix.
“The word ‘aerobics’ came about when the gym instructors got together and said, ‘If we’re going to charge $10 an hour, we can’t call it jumping up and down.’” – Rita Rudner
Calisthenics are good for you, especially in measured doses. Sit-ups, pushups, dancing, etc. will increase your coordination and start to tighten up places that are in need of tightening. And you can start simply and work up. For example, instead of flopping down on the floor and doing full-on push-ups, try standing a few feet away from a wall and lean into the push-up position vertically. As you get stronger you can move further away from the wall.
“The trouble with jogging is that, by the time you realize you’re not in shape for it, it’s too far to walk back.” – Franklin P. Jones
Putting one foot in front of the other is good for you, regardless of how fast you’re going. One person’s run is another person’s walk so go the speed that’s right for YOU. If you’re breathing hard enough that it’s difficult to carry on a conversation, that’s probably fast enough. Your heart and lungs will thank you.
“If swimming is such a good way to stay in shape; Explain whales… “ – Unknown
Swimming makes everything work together. You have to coordinate a whole bunch of body parts and, at the same time, regulate your breathing. The pool at the YMCA or that big salty thing that surrounds us, there’s a big wet world out there to explore.
“Surely if God had meant us to do yoga, he would have put our heads behind our knees.” – Rod Stewart
There’s a lot of wisdom that has come to us from the east and many practices are not only good for your body and soul, they’re also good for your singing. Yoga and Qigong bring your breath control to a great place and the stretching of your muscles keeps them nice and healthy. The more active practices like Taekwondo bring the same benefits along with a different level of fitness and body control. Unlike the others, however, you might get walloped.
A final note: many choral singers are of an age where they…um…have had the opportunity to gather wisdom over a long period of time. A lot of the things I’ve mentioned may be a bit much for their health and/or safety. That doesn’t mean you skip the whole idea, it means that you have to find the right thing for you. Look at it this way: if you add a walk of 100 feet to your day today, you’ve burned a couple more calories and done a little more exercise than you did yesterday. It’s not much, but it IS something. If you do it every day, then you’re on your way.
“I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.” – Fred Allen