Dr Dan’s Guide to Alleviating Singing Tension

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Hello, everyone! Dr Dan here, and today I’m eager to engage with you on a crucial subject that resonates with all singers—mitigating vocal tension. Tension can often be a barrier to our vocal performance; however, we can eradicate this obstacle with the appropriate strategies. Let’s unpack six techniques, all of which have aided numerous singers I’ve worked with to alleviate vocal tension, boost their singing capabilities and nurture vocal health.

1. Conscious Exhalation: A Gentle Start

Our inaugural method involves a fundamental yet potent breathing technique. By exhaling fully—nearly to the brink of what feels like emptiness—many singers often notice a muscular release within their neck. Notably, this activity should be performed gently and with caution. If you’re dealing with conditions like asthma or other lung-related issues, please avoid overexerting. Always tune into your body and shift your focus to the following technique if discomfort arises.

2. Vocal Fold Retraction: Unveiling and Addressing Hidden Tension

During extended singing sessions, we can accumulate tension in our laryngeal mechanism—a complex system governing our voice. Vocal fold retraction offers a solution to this problem. This technique might sound technical, but in practice, it’s straightforward. Visualise moving your hands from east to west as you sing a five-note scale. This horizontal movement, not vertical, should echo in your vocalisation. If successful, you should experience a sensation of ‘pulling apart’ or widening, signalling the retraction of your vocal folds.

3. Tongue Relaxation: Embrace the Peculiarity for Effective Relief

Surprisingly, the tongue can often be a sanctuary for tension, which can intrude on the quality of your singing. An exercise to rectify this may seem peculiar at first—extend your tongue forward three times—but many singers have found it unexpectedly beneficial for releasing covert tension.

4. Alleviating Jawline Tension: Self-Massage as a Solution

Frequently, our jaws, specifically the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), harbour stress. This can particularly afflict singers. I recommend consulting a specialist if this tension escalates into discomfort or pain. However, a self-administered massage can be therapeutic for milder tension: place the heels of your palms along your jawline, draw them downwards, and allow your jaw to relax. However, any discomfort should signal an immediate halt to the exercise.

5. Mindful Head Movements: Gentle, Rewarding Stretches

When executed mindfully, gentle head movements can act as an effective countermeasure against neck tension. Slowly pivot your head from side to side and then front to back, softly maintaining each extension for a three-to-five-second period. Crucially, this is about gentle stretching, not strenuous exertion.

6. Straw Phonation: A Glimpse into the Next Guide

Our final technique, straw phonation, is slightly more intricate and warrants its own comprehensive guide. This technique is leveraged to address various vocal concerns, such as misaligned technique and vocal fatigue. I’ve prepared an in-depth video guide on straw phonation for those who prefer a visual demonstration.

All the methods mentioned above have been put to the test by numerous singers I’ve worked with, leading to noticeable enhancements in their performances. Nevertheless, it’s paramount to remember that everyone’s vocal journey is unique. Some techniques might yield wonderful results for you, while others may not. The key is to attentively listen to your body, experiment with different techniques, and discover what brings you the most comfort and ease in singing. Until next time, keep singing and take care!

For more about releasing tension, check out this video…

Disclaimer: This blog post was generated by ChatGPT-4, an AI language model, based on Dr Dan’s video script (original work). For a comprehensive understanding of the topic, we suggest watching the original video above.
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