Why is physical care important for a singer?

Singing requires great athleticism. The art (and sport) of singing is a full-body experience that requires finite muscle coordination, endurance, proprioception, breath control, maintained posture – the list goes on and on. Therefore, just like any other athlete would utilize a sport-specific training plan to benefit their performance, singers should utilize a "sport-specific" program to benefit their singing performance. SBC students have found a great deal of success through our custom-made programs and technical approach.

I heard that exercise is harmful to my singing, is this true?

This is the myth that we are working to bust. When one exercises with correct form, intensity, and appropriate progressions, their body will learn to serve your voice. Many singers have a fear of creating too much tension within their body. "Too much tension" when working out is only created when you exercise incorrectly. Often, singers begin a workout program that is too advanced or not specific enough. This approach to exercise is what subjects the vocal tract, and the entire body for that matter, to excessive tension and potential harm. Likewise, exercise is a vital part of your health and well being. In the end, wouldn't you rather learn how to use your body in a way that benefits your voice, your career, and your wellbeing?

Core work is bad for my voice, right?

A common concern, but no.
Let's first make a clear distinction between the muscles of the abdomen and the core. "Abs" are what you see, and the "core" is what you feel. When one focuses on "ab" training, they are focusing on the outermost layer of abdominal muscles, the ones we can visibly see, and the muscles of the core are not the primary muscle targeted. Abdominal muscles serve as the primary muscles of spinal flexion, and exercising them means a lot of flexing, bending, and twisting of the spine. When these kinds of exercises are done in excess or thought of as “core work”, they can be detrimental to actual core function--which is what our posture is built upon. Instead, all of these flexing and bending exercises train your outermost abdominals to function as the main stabilizers, as opposed to the flexors and benders they were intended to be. Not only that, having tight abdominals as a singer has a profoundly adverse effect on breath control and breath support, and will inevitably lead to postural dysfunctions, an inability to disassociate the diaphragm and core from the abdominal muscles, which will have an overall negative impact on a singer’s body.

The term “core” generally refers to the deepest layer of muscles within the lumbo-pelvic region, hips, abdomen, and lower back. The quintessential part of a singer’s breath comes down to their core strength and coordination of the respiratory muscles in relationship to postural stability. The goal of the core exercises in our programs are to aid singers in maintaining the posture of inhalation, expansion of the ribcage, and the ability to resist the natural collapse of the rib cage during exhalation. By learning to control the muscles of the core, abdomen, and torso, a singer will inherit the proper feeling of support, be able to easily maintain that support, and thereby gain more of an understanding of their vocal capabilities.

For the record, it is entirely possible for people to have no abdominal muscle definition whatsoever, but have an incredibly strong core.

Can't I just "stand with good posture" when I sing?

As singers, we constantly hear and remind ourselves to “stand up straight,” “keep your head back,” “ribcage open,” “don’t collapse,” “resist gravity!” - these kinds of reminders are a constant while practicing and performing. However, if you have to dramatically change your posture in order to sing, that is a good sign your postural integrity might be compromised. This to say, if you stand with poor posture in life, it will follow you into your singing. It is always our end-goal for our students to have the process of posture be subconscious. This process can't become subconscious unless we take the time outside of the practice room to strengthen these postural muscles, independent of vocal practice sessions. When one approaches posture from a mindset of "just do it," they will often utilize the path of least resistance. In the fitness world, they call this "the law of fasciculation."
The body is one of the best compensators in the world; it will get you to do what you need to do, no matter what it takes to get there. If one muscle is weaker than another, our bodies will naturally recruit whatever muscles necessary to achieve a given goal. In moderation this type of muscle recruitment isn’t drastically detrimental, but, when done repetitively, we further enforce these muscle imbalances and weaknesses. Thus, doing so leads us further from the healthy, functional posture that singers work so hard to achieve and maintain. The further we are from functional posture, the further we are from having true control of our breath.

From our experience, if you're working on posture, it is best to condition these muscles through specific, personalized bodywork to ensure true functionality, stability, and balance.

What do I need for my coaching?

Nothing except your mind, body, and breath! Sometimes we suggest our students purchase small, travel-friendly equipment, but for the most part our coachings are equipment-free.

On what do SBC coachings focus?

Posture Stability: The singing body and healthy vocal production are birthed from a place of functional posture, which is a posture free of muscle imbalances, compensations, and unhealthy tensions. These exercises build a physical base of support for optimal vocal production and further the mind-body connection of an ideal singing posture. These exercises focus specifically on restoring postural integrity through establishing muscle flexibility, length-tension relationships, joint stability, coordination, and movement literacy within the body with the primary goal of establishing healthy, independent postural muscle function.

Cardio-Base Training: Perhaps one of the most beneficial kinds of exercises for singers, cardiorespiratory training can also be one of the most difficult to begin and master. This type of activity creates a significant and sustained increase in heart rate, which is further translated to an increased demand for oxygen and whole-body tension. This need for more oxygen can leave the vocal tract incredibly fatigued and the body exhausted, both of which are detrimental to singers. However, our technique successfully incorporates cardiorespiratory approaches that leave the body energized and vocal tract free from harm.

Core & Functional Breathing Practices: The quintessential part of a singer’s breath control comes down to their core strength and coordination of the respiratory muscles. While singing, the muscles of the core are used for breath support, posture, balance, and overall body stability. The goal of the core muscle exercises in this program is to aid singers in maintaining the posture of inhalation, the expansion of the ribcage, and thereby resisting the natural collapse of the rib cage during exhalation. By learning to control the muscles of the abdomen and torso, a singer will inherit the proper feeling of support, be able to easily maintain that support and thereby gain more of an understanding to their vocal capabilities.

Isometric Exercises: Since the ideal singing posture is one of sustained muscle use, isometric postures are utilized to teach a body how to achieve this stability and muscle use optimally. This improves the endurance of singer-specific muscles, develops stronger neuromuscular pathways, and establishes a reliable foundation of balance and coordination upon which the voice can continue to function most optimally.



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