3 TOP REASONS YOU HAVE THROAT TENSION WHEN SINGING
Singing with muscle tension is not great for vocal efficiency or vocal health.
So, if you’re asking yourself “why does my throat get tight when I sing” then let’s talk about the potential reasons you have throat tension when singing.
By the end of this blog post I want you to walk away knowing the 3 technical issues behind your throat tension and exactly how to relieve tension when singing.
Hi, I'm Rebecca! And I truly love everything about the art, science, and teaching of singing. If you're looking to build an effective and healthier singing technique so that you can sing with more ease and confidence, then you're in the right place! Here's a few other blog posts you might also like to read:
4 alternative therapies that will improve your posture for singing
How to improve singing technique: 5 steps to building good vocal technique
And of course, grab a copy of my ultimate vocal health starter guide where I'll share how to create a vocal health routine and reset your voice in 14-days!
REASON #1 YOU HAVE THROAT TENSION WHEN SINGING: POOR POSTURE
The first reason you have throat tension when singing is poor posture.
Postural balance and alignment is commonly overlooked by most singers (and singing teachers) but it’s usually the root cause behind many vocal problems, including throat tension.
I like to think of posture for singing as setting up your instrument before you play it. If the instrument, or in this case your whole body, is not aligned properly then your instrument/voice won’t be able to function effectively and efficiently.
Whilst there are many variations of poor posture, the two habits that most affect your postural alignment for singing are:
Collapsed upper torso; and
A collapsed upper torso is common if you’re a student and/or you do a desk job. I often encourage students to use the Wonder Woman pose or the Superman pose to help stop the upper torso from rolling as they sing.
And, head balance is largely affected by everyday use of smart devices. The Alexander Technique semi-supine exercise is great for head balance correction.
The best way to make these minor corrections is through awareness. Becoming more mindful of how you are using your body and actively working to replace bad habits with good habits.
Using a mirror while you practice is a great way to identify and correct postural issues and enable you to monitor the changes and help you correct bad habits long-term.
However, if you have more serious postural problems you should seek help from a professional that can help you achieve the best results.
Some singing teachers hold qualifications to make such corrections during lessons but if not, I highly recommend the Alexander Technique. For more about the Alexander Technique see my blog post How the Alexander Technique can improve your singing.
Maintaining balance and alignment should form part of your daily vocal health routine.
Complementary activities like Yoga and Pilates are also great ways to build and maintain your core muscles, which are responsible for good posture as well as reducing tension throughout the body.
REASON #2 YOU HAVE THROAT TENSION WHEN SINGING: BREATH SUPPORT
The second reason you have throat tension when singing is lack of proper breath support.
When you’re not engaging the core muscles when singing your support moves into the upper body, shoulders, and neck, creating excessive tension around the larynx and preventing it from functioning effectively and efficiently.
You’ll also likely see other signs of poor breath support with tongue tension and jaw movement.
And by not having proper breath support you increase the likelihood of vocal injury.
To resolve this you first need to have good posture. So, if you have poor posture, work on that first.
Because if the upper torso is collapsed, for example, then the lungs cannot fully expand at the bottom and the core muscles cannot properly engage and support the voice.
Think of your support as a diamond shape. Starting at the xiphoid region, then either side of the waistband front and back, and down to the lower abdomen, or pubic symphysis.
Having good breath support is linked to knowing how to breathe properly for singing. Take a look at my blog post How to Breath for Singing and note that the out breath is more important when it comes to engaging the support than the in breath.
Again, working with an Alexander Technique teacher or a singing teacher that is qualified to teach the Accent Method will help you make sure that you are building the right habbits.
You can also combine singing lessons and Alexander Technique sessions with aerobic exercises like running and pilates and yoga are great for building and maintaining breath support.
REASON #3 YOU HAVE THROAT TENSION WHEN SINGING: BREATH CONTROL
The third reason you have throat tension when singing is excessive breath control.
This means that you are pushing too much air out in order to produce a sound.
As a result, this encourages your support to move into the upper body, shoulders, and neck causing throat tension when singing and you end up working harder and harder to produce a sound.
This is quite common if you’re trying to achieve better projection but actually the voice becomes restricted by the excessive tension and ceases to function effectively and efficiently and vocalising becomes more effortful than it needs to be.
The breath flow (exhalation) should feel effortless rather than effortful.
If it’s effortful then there’s something wrong in the system, either postural habits are preventing the lungs from expanding and/or your support is too high in the body.
If you’re using excessive breath, start with examining your posture, followed by learning to breathe properly for singing as well as working with an Alexander Technique instructor and/or singing teacher that can help you reestablish the correct breath control.
To sum up, if you want to relieve throat tension when singing, you’ll need to make sure that you:
Have and maintain good postural balance and alignment;
Your voice is properly supported by breathing properly for singing; and
Breath control is not excessive.
If you have any questions about throat tension when singing, make sure you leave them in the comments below and be sure to take a look at my next blog post, 5 Upper Body Exercises to reduce neck tension when singing, including my follow-along YouTube video.