It’s no surprise that often when we ask for intensity from our singers the result displays a greater degree of tension than when we began. That tension is usually displayed across the shoulders / chest and in the face, especially the mouth and cheeks, as we try to look like ‘we mean it’ and try to get our bodies ‘involved’. The result? Possibly a more focused sound, but one that lacks ring, resonance and vocal freedom – and tired singers!

Of course, what we really want is more intensity in the sound, and bodies which are relaxed and engaged in expressive, free movement.

The ‘trying’ stance is characterised by weight significantly forward onto the toes, full upper body leaning forward, ‘turtle-neck’ head… If we work on resetting our body to a balanced alignment, with the head and pelvis rotated correctly to release all tension in the spine, it provides a relaxed vocal mechanism. The sense of “effort” in the body does not translate to an energised sound. And effortless vocal production, from a poised and free body will provide much more energy and freedom to the sound.

If you pursue the kind of sound that comes from singing with full resonance and locking voices together, there is no need for ‘surface tension’ – whatever the volume, go for poised bodies and free sound. Beware of asking for intensity in a way which encourages your singers to sing ‘tense’ in some instances and relaxed in others. Be consistent in your requirements and the consistency of your performance will increase.

Tension vs. Intensity
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