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Sitting Posture

I'm a first year middle school choir director. I've been training my students on the behavoirs that contribute best to the rehearsal, including posture. I've houding my studnets each and every day that while sitting, their feet need to be flat on the floor for good singing posture (in addition to the ribcage being lifted, ect).  It seems as though I have to remind my students every couple of minutes what this posture should look like, specificially with their feet on the floor. Today, my 7th graders felt the need to argue that thier feet don't have to be on the floor, "I don't use my feet to sing!" As bothersome as this argument is, I can't say I had a solid reason why your feet had to be flat on the floor, I told them that it helps to engage the core. I know 7th graders love to argue whatever they can, but I'd still like a sound reason as to why this posture that I spend so much time correcting is necessary. 
 
What is the science behind this? I've been told my entire existance as a chorister to do this. Other than quick transitioning to standing and uniformity, I can't think of why this aspect of posture is exactly necessary. Granted you don't need perfect posture to sing well once your technique is established, but (of course) my students are not at that stage yet. 
 
What does having your feet flat on the ground promote (or not promote) as a singer? 
on January 13, 2016 12:06pm
I'm actually going to give a hand to your students here...  Depending on how long your legs are between your shins and your feet, sitting with your feet flat on the floor may not be possible, or may put you in a very unstable position.  That's why piano benches are so adjustable.  I've got short legs, and most chairs are too tall for me to put my feet flat unless I scoot so far forward that I'm in real danger of tipping the chair.  To sit up straight, I have to be a bit on tippy toe.  Depending on the chair, it often feels more comfortable and stable to tuck them all the way, tippy-toed and crossed at the ankles, a bit under my seat, or behind a chair leg, rather than sit with my heels two inches off the floor for an hour.  My mother in law is so short, her legs dangle like a kindergartner.  Sitting with your knees up around your ears because you have very long legs for the height of your chair is similarly uncomfortable and distracting from the singing process.  (How close together are your rows?  Is there room for everyone's knees or is it like a cross country flight in coach?)  If you've got any tall guys this may be an issue.  I'd suggest an emphasis on sitting up straight and not in any manner that's visually distracting or invades the personal space of the people around you and leave it at that.  
on January 14, 2016 12:04pm
I recommend sticking to your guns with certain caveats.   Where and how you put your feet determines the position of the hips. Position of the hips determines position of thorax/rib cage/sternum/shoulders/ears/neck/(the hip bone's connected to the throat bone....) Look at your Alexander technique stuff.  When sitting, I have to sit on the edge of the chair, with my feet on the floor.  There are times when I can put my feet under the chair, but, that can tend to bring my hips too far forward and put strain on my lower back. (Putting my feet in front of me can throw my hips out of alignment the other way) Your students need to learn to sing with their whole body, not just their throat.  EVERYTHING they do with their instrument (whole body) impacts their sound production. I do correct student's posture constantly.  I get it, they get tired of singing with good posture, we get tired of correcting them.  BUT, you are also training them for the bigger picture of  healthy singing and respect for the art of singing and ultimately for you as their teacher.  One trick borrowed from SCubed (Dale Duncan) is to compliment good posture when you see it. (Especially those that are sitting next to the few that don't have good posture)  I sometimes take it a step further and toss a jolly rancher or small candy to one or two students with good posture. If the size of the chair is not conducive to good posture, perhaps your best expectation is to stand in alignment while singing.
on January 14, 2016 1:36pm
It promotes good posture, which, in turn, promotes good breathing, singing, and focus, among other things.  In particular, it makes it easier to keep the pelvis in alignment, rather than tilted forward, (which happens when feet are wrapped around chair legs), or back, (which happens when legs are crossed).  Orchestras often have chairs in varying sizes so that their instrumentalists, who come in varying sizes, can comfortably maintain good posture. It's unfortunate that school chairs are usually available in only one size. (P.S. I'm short, too.)
on January 14, 2016 5:38pm
Avoid arguing with the children.  Share with them what they need to do and then reward those who do with praise often.
 
Here is a video of what I do it from day 1.  This is a video of my first 10 minutes with my public school middle school children.  I've done it this way every year for 24 years, and my children were sitting up straight today!
 
 
Dale Duncan
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Applauded by an audience of 2
on January 15, 2016 7:59am
I often quote the best teacher I've had--Rene Clausen. Whenever he asked us to remain seated, or to sit down, he said, "Stand from the waist up."
Applauded by an audience of 2
on January 16, 2016 10:52am
It is my guess that you've already explained the reasons for sitting up while singing. I suggest you remove the chairs. When they complain, say with a smile, "We're going without chairs for a week. If in a week you'd like to try sitting up while singing, we'll try them again." By standing up while singing, they are using their feet to sing.
Applauded by an audience of 1
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