You Won't Believe This Teacher's Singing Posture Secret
When singing, your first thoughts aren’t usually about your backside. It would be like thinking of your elbows while playing basketball or thinking about your teeth while going for a jog. So why is it important to think about your rear while vocalizing?
Believe it or not, your backside ties in with the support you need during singing. Many singing students have often been told by their teachers to support their sound and to use their body as a foundation for the sound they make with their vocal cords. Part of your support structure for singing is your posture and breathing and your butt is related to your posture.
Butt, what is it?
The Ninja Butt Squeeze, or NBS, is a technique where you subtly tighten your buttock muscles when singing. If you do this correctly, no one will notice you doing it, hence the Ninja part of the Ninja Butt Squeeze.
How does the Ninja Butt Squeeze work? (Butt how?)
In many of the articles related to singing there is a detailed explanation of how to stand when singing. This often relates to having your feet planted solidly on the ground, not locking your knees, tilting your pelvis in slightly, not curving your back too much, tightening your abdominal muscles, keeping your shoulders back but relaxed and balancing your head on your spinal column (to mention a few). The NBS is related to tilting your pelvis inward. This creates a domino effect because by squeezing your butt you automatically tilt your pelvis inward slightly which allows your lower back to have more support as it is not curved towards your stomach. This makes it easier to tighten your abdominal muscles and keep your shoulders relaxed. Thus, just by doing this small thing you will have a lot of positive changes in your overall posture while singing. One especially important thing, however, is not to squeeze too much. The NBS is not an extreme movement (as again indicated by the ninja part of the name). When squeezing your butt for singing it should not be with the same force that you would use to try and put on skinny jeans that are two sizes too small for you. It is more the type of squeeze you use to shuffle past people in the movie theatre when you arrive late and have seats in the middle of the aisle. You don’t want your butt in the people’s faces as you shuffle past them to your seat, but you don’t squeeze so tightly that you can’t walk. This last kind of squeeze is the intensity you should aim for during singing.
When should you use the Ninja Butt Squeeze?
The NBS can be used whenever you are standing and singing. You can use it when you are sitting down and singing as well but it becomes a little bit uncomfortable and loses its ninja element as you rise up when squeezing your butt (even if it is just a little). The NBS is an especially useful technique when preparing for notes in higher registers. The following steps will help you to apply the NBS when singing:
1. Breathe in deeply using diaphragmatic breathing (but don’t breathe directly before the high note as this will cause you to lose momentum and the note will sound flimsy. Breathe at least 3 beats before the high note).
2. Do the NBS two beats before the high notes, remembering not to squeeze too tightly.
3. Maintain the NBS until the end of the phrase.
4. Remember, if you ever feel uncomfortable or off balance, stop and check to be sure you are following all the steps outlined above.
Doing the NBS technique effectively when singing will ensure that you are never the butt of anyone’s joke about high notes. It will also help you not to feel rear-ended by requests to sing songs in higher registers. Overall, it is an effective life-hack for singing and supporting your vocal cords. Tightening the buttock muscles affects so many other aspects such as your pelvis position and lower back curvature. It is one of the many techniques you can use to help you reach the higher notes, but it is certainly not the only one. In the immortal words of Ron Popeil: “But(t) wait, there’s more!”
Sonnie graduated from the University of Pretoria with a Bachelor degree of Music, specializing in music education, music therapy and singing. She received this degree with distinction and academic honors in 2015. In the same year she started her Master’s of Musicology degree and received a bursary to study music education in Finland for six months. During this time she specialized in music education, music therapy and indigenous music. In 2016 she was part of a team that compiled music textbooks for the South African CAPS (Curriculum Assessment Policy Statements) for grades 10-12.
Sonnie's lessons are rated five stars in 55 verified student reviews, like this one:
My 8 year old loves singing lessons with Sonnie and looks forward to singing with her every week. Sonnie is very patient, caring and has a great energy. She provides age appropriate lessons and songs.
-Joanna Castaneda, review from April 7, 2021