What does raising the sternum actually do ?

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What does raising the sternum actually do ?

Postby six20aus » Tue Mar 15, 2011 11:17 pm

This probably should form part of the "support....once and for all" thread (which itself should be a sticky since these questions come up so often...)

Thread here in case you missed it -
http://forum.completevocalinstitute.com/viewtopic.php?t=7368&highlight=support


Anyway - What does raising the sternum actually do ? I am bit confused about it because I don't think the CVT book speaks about it specifically (maybe it falls into the brief posture bit).

It seems to me like its actually a prerequisite to support. If I raise my sternum and breathe in the sensation of my solar plexus coming out and the ability to activate my back muscles is actually heightened. I feel like the voice instantly finds an easy groove to sit in and it just flows rather than being forced.

I had messed around with this previously and I am just starting to use it again but it almost feels like its not possible to support properly unless your sternum is raised ? I don't know if this is just the way I feel or if its an anatomical requirement of support?
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Re: What does raising the sternum actually do ?

Postby egoaudio » Wed Mar 16, 2011 3:04 am

Hey Six,

I think that raising the sternum, or keeping it raised (or in one position) while singing, helps to maintain consistency in the exhalation. If your sternum is collapsing while you are singing, then it is adding to the exhalation force which will in turn need balancing. Having too many factors involved in the exhalation process increases the possibility of error or sub-optimal flow/pressure at the glottis. That is why focusing on the forces of exhalation/inhalation in one main area (solar plexus/abdomen) can be helpful.

Does that make sense? I too am still making sense of this, so I could be off base, but I feel like this is a logical explanation.

EGO

Edit: I got this idea here. Post #23


six20aus wrote:Anyway - What does raising the sternum actually do ? I am bit confused about it because I don't think the CVT book speaks about it specifically (maybe it falls into the brief posture bit).

I had messed around with this previously and I am just starting to use it again but it almost feels like its not possible to support properly unless your sternum is raised? I don't know if this is just the way I feel or if its an anatomical requirement of support?
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Postby Hanmuller » Wed Mar 16, 2011 2:45 pm

When you raise the sternum you increase the area especially in the lower part of the ribcage. This means that you can create the same pressure at the vocal fold level by using less muscle energy than if you didn't increased that area (an analogy would be a bolt cutter compared to a pincer). And of course it also increases the overall pressure available. :)
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Postby six20aus » Wed Mar 16, 2011 10:46 pm

So can you support properly without raising the sternum or is it required to raise the sternum first ?

In other words - is it necessary or does it just make the whole process easier ?
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Postby Hanmuller » Wed Mar 16, 2011 11:13 pm

A diaphramatic breathing does exactly that! So nothing new in regards to support. :)
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Postby six20aus » Thu Mar 17, 2011 1:53 am

A diaphramatic breathing does exactly that! So nothing new in regards to support.


Hanmuller, sorry I don't understand - what I am trying to understand is lifting the sternum a personal preference or is it a requirement.

Feels to me like its a requirement...
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Postby blackstar » Thu Mar 17, 2011 3:28 am

This is very interesting. From what I read in that post from the TMV, it seems to be a requirement. But how DO you raise the sternum? I can't seem to do it without doing chest breathing...
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Postby Hanmuller » Thu Mar 17, 2011 11:05 am

It's not a requirement but it helps to make the support more efficient. When taking a diaphramatic breath you automatically raise the sternum.

Try this:

Tense your lower abs slightly and then take a low breath. This should expand your lower ribs and solar plexus - a diaphramatic breath. The reason for this is actually quite simple. When the diaphram can't expand downwards it expands outwards and upwards instead. :)

Now see if you can do the same with the minimum amount of tension in the lower abs.

:)
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Postby blackstar » Thu Mar 17, 2011 5:56 pm

Thanks Martin, I think I can feel my sternum raising a little bit more, but it's kind of like trying to unlearn something that I learnt before. I always worked on trying to not move anything in my chest, including my sternum because that's what I was taught at first...
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Postby egoaudio » Thu Mar 17, 2011 11:50 pm

Holy crap man. This is so important. Maybe I was never breathing diagrammatically, but when I do this, My voice explodes. Thanks a ton!

Hanmuller wrote:Tense your lower abs slightly and then take a low breath. This should expand your lower ribs and solar plexus - a diaphramatic breath. The reason for this is actually quite simple. When the diaphram can't expand downwards it expands outwards and upwards instead. :)

Now see if you can do the same with the minimum amount of tension in the lower abs.

:)
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Re: What does raising the sternum actually do ?

Postby singing101 » Sun Dec 07, 2014 2:43 am

I'm curious to hear a CVT teacher respond to this thread.

Here's my hunch:

To raise your sternum, you have to tilt the ribs by slightly arching your back, to tilt the ribs, your back (generally) has to begin to tense...you need some resistance (if I remember correctly that this was mentioned on the forum by a CVT teacher) in the beginning of your singing most of the time so that your ribs don't completely collapse right away.

So...raising your sternum, if done slowly, steadily, with increasing tension in the back muscles, is the act of support (assuming you don't lock your navel or push it out). If you raise and get "fixed" in a position, maybe that won't be helpful for the whole phrase, while a movement of increasing tension, would.

You could compare this to the imagery mentioned in the book of your shoulders lowering or being pushed down over time...to actually do that, back muscles tend to (must?) be involved, the same ones that would move the solar plexus outward.

Just my thoughts, again I'm curious what a CVT teacher would say. I find the back muscles to be priority number one in singing. I can't seem to support without them. I recently discovered what it was like to consciously support curbing (my easiest mode for my default/comfortable range) and then neutral (in my default range), and for the first time (ever?) I was able to do neutral and then neutral with air on a higher note and feel like I had a grip on the note (not in the throat, like I feel with curbing, but from below, like I was just supporting properly).

I had run into back tension a few times before, but I think what I did was just tense my back, and then kept it stuck at a certain level of tension. Now, I increase the tension over time, and neutral is easier now instead of feeling impossible, it feels next-door-neighbor to curbing. I think that I have to remember to keep it a tension-in-movement back-wise so that support doesn't lock.

If I'm not directly paying attention to it, I lose it. So I can't do anything very musically or technically difficult as of right now. I can't approach neutral directly, randomly, I have to practice in curbing, which is my comfortable mode, first, and then I can approach neutral and do it in a comfortable way. I also have noticed that I have to be careful with applying too little support, or resistance-in-movement, otherwise everything is too subtle and so then it's very easy to just lock or under support. That only took me 3 or so years to figure out! haha The book makes it seem like everything is instant, I beg to differ. I've cried in frustration over this many times, and it took me a long time, and it was tormenting, more so because it was supposed to be "easy".

Furthermore, if singing is so "easy" why do CVT teachers themselves take 3 years?! Learning to ride a bike is easy. That takes a couple months. If someone takes a couple months to do everything in the book, good for them, but my experience is struggle for 3 years, minimum, if all you've got is a book and a few CVT skype lessons.
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