Overcoming Singing Tension

In this episode, we’re going to be talking about combating tension when you are singing and focusing on the different areas where tension generally occurs with singers.

To start with, when you are singing, you’re going to be physically and vocally moving and I want you to feel the song when you’re singing. This this is part and parcel of being a singer but also to have a lot of fun when singing. We don’t want to allow the body to get stiff and rigid is this will greatly inhibit the function of the voice.

Tension in the neck or jaw when singing – if you’re feeling tension in the jaw or the neck, generally this is caused by two factors.

  1. Your diaphragm is not working enough, we need to use the diaphragm, support all of the notes being sung and relax the neck and jaw area.
  2. Study your vowels – get your mouth working, do vowel scales and go back to some of our other blogs we’ve got on vowels and let your sounds flow out of your mouth and have a forward feeling. And trying to keep the jaw relax when we’re doing this.

Now, that might be great but if you’re singing for an hour and you’re using your jaw and your mouth a lot, it still may be getting tight after 10-20 minutes, if this is happening do some jaw stretching exercises:

  • Loosen your mouth up and stretch the muscles that are tight wherever they may be. Even after doing a couple of stretchs, you may feel that your jaw is already stretched out and feeling lose; do this before you do your scales and singing when your practicing at home or in between your scales you are still feeling tension. If you continue to keep doing some jawdropping and stretching exercises every day you will feel that this area will be a lot looser in a few weeks.

If you’re getting tension in the neck just put your head back all the way back as far as you can to stretch out the muscles in the front of the neck.

Try doing this simple stretching exercise:

  • Drop the jaw Down in a relaxed fashion
  • Tilt your head all the way back slowly, and then
  • Bring your teeth together as far as you can to stretch out the muscles that are in the front of the neck.

Please if you can’t get your teeth all the way together, don’t overstretch and hurt yourself.

After doing those two exercises, you should be feeling a lot looser around your jaw and neck area but if you’re still feeling tension, you can do some round neck circles that’s going to stretch every muscle in your neck. To do this:

  • Place your chin on the chest to start with and stretching the back neck, then
  • Started to slowly raise your head so that you are looking directly over your left shoulder, then
  • Slowly start to move your head up so you are looking directly up to the sky or ceiling and slowly move your head so that you are walking over your right shoulder continually moving until you are looking down and your tunes on your chest again. Please move very slowly through this exercise and do not stop moving.

Please do this exercise both clockwise and anticlockwise.

Again, as I’ve already mention, if you are getting tension in these areas or any area for that matter besides the diaphragm, I want you to work your diaphragm more. The diaphragm should be the only area/ muscle that’s tightening and working and doing your heavy lifting. Everything else should be loose and relax when you’re singing.

When you’re moving and grooving up on stage or wherever it may be, stay loose and keep your body relax but firm. And when you’re singing, try to feel the parts that are tight or feeling tension. For example, if you feel that your neck is tightening up a little, try to relax that area and tight the diaphragm instead. If you’re still feeling tension and you’re practicing your scales and singing; stop and stretch this particular areas. These areas generally are your neck, shoulders, back, face and jaw but stretch it any other areas where you are feeling tension. This may be in your arms and legs

Another point is if you’re creating tension in the wrong areas you are most probably not using great technique. Even if you’re singing hard/husky or high, you’re technique still has to be great. I can still sing high or hard and stay relaxed because my diaphragm is doing all the work.  Always remember that the one technique that is going to loosen the tension is by tightening the diaphragm instead.

See you next week!

Have fun singing.


Peter Vox