How Can You Be Too Relaxed To Sing?
Students are often told to relax. Some of them are very deliberately “relaxing” while singing, all the time, in everything. That could be good, but if that is the only instruction, it can get to be not so good.
It is possible to be too relaxed. That can cause trouble. The idea is that the muscles within the throat and mouth should be “poised” and “ready for action” with a kind of physical alertness. In fact, a great deal of movement is necessary in the muscles and having them relax can also deaden those movements. Then, in order to get “results” the student manipulates or pushes and eventually, that gets him into more trouble.
Aliveness Is More Than Relaxation
The old-fashioned use of the word, “quicken” is to make alive. The quick and the dead means the living and the dead. If you quicken the muscles, you are conditioning them to be not only more responsive but more easily responsive to smaller cues. If you bear down on them they get “parked” and if you deadened them in an effort to relax, they can’t move. Either way the singing is going to suffer.
The muscles of the tongue (especially in the back) and the mouth (inside, also in the back) as well as the lips (all around the mouth outside) and the jaw (massater) and the muscles connecting the tongue and jaw to each other inside (numerous), all have to move a lot (extended excursion) and easily. They don’t usually do that without working them (sometimes indirectly) over time. If any of these muscles is slow to respond to the mind’s request for something specific, the singing suffers. The singer will not feel much and consequently there is no “kinesthetic feedback” to notice. If you ask the student, “What do you feel when you sing that?” the response will be “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure” and those will be honest answers.
If Muscles Don’t Move You Can’t Feel Them
Remember that singing is activity. Movement is necessary and the training process is meant to provoke such movement. In a system that is either atrophied (hasn’t moved much) or hyper active (moves too much) or can’t move (tight) causing the right kind of movement in the right amount and is the point.
How Much Is The Right Amount?
How do you know what the right amount is? By listening and looking. If the sound is pleasant and the singer is singing easily, things are moving, particularly inside where they cannot be observed. If the face (outside) and body (breathing) move through various changes but with a sense of freedom and cohesiveness, that’s positive. Relaxation is a good thing but, remember, you can have too much of a good thing and then be in trouble. You can be too relaxed to sing well, so stay aware of that in your studies.