Body conscious: a comparative study of body awareness and body alignment methods for singers and for teachers integrating them into their teaching
The purpose of this document is to research and discuss the necessity of body alignment and awareness required to enhance a singer's vocal technique. The science supporting proper alignment and awareness provides evidence for the importance of this area of training. Research presented in this document compares several of the most popular awareness and alignment methods. These methods include yoga, Alexander Technique, the Feldenkrais Method, and Pilates. Each method's founding principles and their applications to singers is explored. All of the chosen methods have aspects that complement singers' training. However, it is difficult to draw any conclusions on the effectiveness of these methods because clinical medical research is limited. There has been an increase in public awareness of alternative body training methods and an increase in clinics geared towards the special needs of performing artists. However, there is a lack of research into body alignment and awareness methods for musicians, especially singers. An overview of medical research in body alignment and awareness is presented. This overview includes voice and posture research found in publications such as the Journal of Voice. The medical research available on these methods with non-musicians is also included to provide more information on each method's effectiveness. The researcher asked professional voice teachers to participate in a survey to ascertain if and how they use these methods in their teaching. The results of this survey confirm that teachers are aware of various methods and often use them with students and their own practice. Alexander Technique and yoga are shown to be the most popular methods. The survey includes a section of open-ended questions about using these methods in lessons. The answers reveal that many teachers use variations of the presented methods because of their limited training. This information points to a lack of availability for training in these methods for voice teachers. More access to classes or availability to work with teachers who have these specialties as well as a performing arts background would be beneficial. Further research might include cataloguing the number of teachers who have training in mind-body methods along with a vocal training background.