Sunday, January 20, 2013

Singers and Fitness

This is not a New Year's resolution blog post.  And this is not another rant about how opera singers are "fat" and need to get skinny to fit into modern society.  This is only what it says it is: an article about singers and the crucial element of fitness in performance.

Now that we've got that out of the way, let me say that this is a topic that I've been thinking about a lot this past semester.  Back in September, I set some goals that I'd work towards during this entire first year of grad school.  One of my biggest goals was to work to become more physically fit.  I'm so glad that I've committed to this, because I've seen a huge difference in my singing and performance.

In short, here is what I've learned:

1. Building stamina in running/lifting/etc. helps me build stamina in singing.  It has changed my breath and my ability to use that breath.  It has given me more control overall and I can sing much longer without getting tired out.

2. I have also gained stamina onstage.  Opera is very physical - not only in the actual act of singing, but also in the movement required by the acting/blocking.  Opera productions are becoming more active all the time and the things asked of me are always becoming more extreme.  Staying fit gives me the ability to do whatever I want on stage.  I have less limitations.

3. Staying fit keeps me flexible.  Once again, that flexibility is so useful in the blocking.  More than that, it gives me so many more options when it comes to building and executing the physicality of a character.  This is important for any role, but it's especially helpful for pants roles.

4. A strong musculature helps me keep my posture correct.  Correct posture is integral to good singing and I'm finding that as I get stronger, it's easier to keep everything in alignment.  I've also found that I've had less muscle knots and aches.  I think this is due to a combination of studying Alexander Technique and keeping my body in motion through healthy exercise.

5. Exercising regularly gives me more energy on a daily basis.  I love feeling more awake and focused throughout the day.  Of course, this helps me sing better, study better, move better, and improve overall.

6. As my body works better and feels better, I have more confidence.  As any singer knows, confidence is crucial to this field.  So, a boost of confidence is always a good thing!

In short, I've found that fitness is an extremely important part of a singer's life.  I find it strange that this has never been stressed to me before.  Now that I've discovered it, I can't imagine why I didn't realize it before.

I think personal fitness should be part of a singer's education and daily practice.  I want to encourage any singers out there who haven't given it much thought to give it a try.  Make time to tone your body.  (I'd suggest 30-45 minutes of cardio 4-5 days a week and about 10 minutes of lifting 3-4 days a week.)  Find a good workout partner, a supportive gym, and some time in your schedule.  Then, go for it!  I know you won't regret it.