Olympic Singing? Vocal Athlete? Body Type?
Training As If It Mattered
We all know that the beach volleyball women are very tall. We know the female gymnasts are very short. We know that weight lifters have thick, dense muscles throughout their bodies and that swimmers, who are also very strong, don’t look like them at all.
It is so, then, that your eyes can see consistent body types in each sport and development of those bodies such that the very structure of them is consistent within a sport. In other words, many of their bodies in each sport look similar.
Why, then, would it not be so that voices are also that way? Someone in a large frame is more likely to make a big sound than someone who is tiny. It’s not that is it impossible for a small person to make a “big” sound, it’s just that there are tendencies. A tall man with a long tall neck and a large larynx is going to be a bass.
There is much discussion regarding “fach” or “voice type” in classical singing. There all kinds of designations of vocalists. In CCM not so much, but there are differences and similarities there as well. We don’t talk about them, but we should. If you search YouTube you can find belters who have similar vocal production — that is if you know how to listen for vocal production as a goal in the first place.
It would be great to have research along the lines of testing whether certain physical types are more or less likely to produce certain kinds of sounds, but I realize that this would be very hard research to do. That doesn’t mean, however, that it isn’t possible. There is such as thing as sports medicine and there is far more knowledge today than there was decades ago about how muscles work not only in each sport but in each individual in that sport. Trainers understand that many kinds of exercise are necessary in order to have a body that is uniformly strong and flexible no matter what the sport, but that work on specific aspects of that sport have to be mastered. They support each other.
It would be interesting to see how the small female gymnasts would do in beach volleyball and how the tall, lean women beach volleyball players would do in gymnastics. It would be equally interesting to see a true belter attempt to do an opera aria or an opera singer try to do some high belting. I know, a few have tried it, but no one has been really successful. There are reasons for that, surely, but we do not know what they are. We still have only our eyes and ears (and life experience) to guide our choices in our professional students.
And, yes, training matters. You can’t train for volleyball and be good at gymnastics. You have to be trained for the sport you do. That’s true for singing as well. Being prepared is a combination of natural tendency, proper training, long-term conditioning and true dedication to the chosen goal, whether it be for sport or music theater, or gospel, belting, rock, or jazz.