I think that one of the most common concerns I notice with singers, especially those starting out is excess tension in the body. Tension can be present while singing for a number of reasons – probably the most common one being nervousness or lack of confidence.
So how does this affect the voice? Quite a bit actually. Because the voice is a physical instrument, it requires a relaxed body and relaxed vocal folds in order to work at its highest potential. Because many of us have extremely busy lives, we frequently hold a lot of tension particularly in our neck and shoulders (and I wouldn’t be surprised if because we are constantly looking at screens and smartphones if the tension in these areas are doubled now).
This is why one of the very first lessons I give new students is releasing tension in the body. We usually start off by turning the head from side to side, up and down and then rolling the head gently around. We then move onto some shoulder rolls and arm stretches and then some Qigong exercises to release tension in the joints, arms and legs. I have found that overall this really makes a difference once we start engaging in more involved vocal warm ups because it allows the student to let go of whatever stress they are carrying before their lesson.
So what do you do to release tension before you sing? Have you tried Yoga or Tai Chi before you sing? If so, what results have you had?