The Dangers of Apparel for Singing

Some days it’s a real challenge to decide what outfit to wear. Most of us want to look good and feel good about our appearance, especially when we are on stage.

Oftentimes, we want to create a persona when we are performing. Clothes can make or break the character we are creating. Unfortunately, sometimes the same clothes that aid in creating the character can take away from the performance.

When you are cast in a musical or opera, you are given your costume, in the correct fit, and are expected to sing just as beautifully as you did in rehearsal everyday while you were wearing sweats or jeans. Corset vs. Sweats…which do you think is easier to sing in?

How does a corset affect your singing? Corsets were created to enhance the hourglass figure.  In essence, it squishes your body together, making it difficult to breathe.  For efficient healthy singing, it is important to get a full low breath. In this case, your breathing and corset are in direct opposition.

As you practice your exercises and songs at home, do you practice in heels? barefoot? in tennis shoes? You may notice that you sing slightly differently at your lesson which occurs after work, which you wear heels for. Yes, sometimes the differences are because of an exhausting day, or because you haven’t sung that song/exercise in front of anyone yet (nerves). However, consider how your posture is affected by the shoes you wear. Also consider how your posture affects your breathing and therefore your singing. It can be a vicious cycle!

On days you have a lesson, a performance, or rehearsal try a comfortable outfit that will allow you to breathe and stand comfortably. You won’t breathe freely in skintight jeans and maybe you should hold-off on the 6-inch heels. Also, don’t forget what happens if you wear a short t-shirt and it turns out you have to lift your arms a lot. Most of the audience, directors and teachers out there prefer not to see your naval.

You want to be respected and seen as a serious performer when you are doing a recital, an audition, or a contest (video or live). Depending on the style of music, you may have different ideas of what is professional. Video Contests in my studio are judged partially on the students’ apparel. I ask that you ‘look the part.’ For someone doing a musical theatre song that may mean wearing a costume. For a rock song, maybe it’s jeans and sun glasses with a leather jacket.

For recitals in my studio, I expect students to follow my guidelines.  Even if they are singing a pop song, they are not allowed to wear jeans, tennis shoes, or t-shirts.  Girls, if wearing skirts or dresses, are expected to be covered down to the top of the knee. Most the time, my guidelines are to help students learn to be professional. Recitals are special events that you earn the right to perform in.  Students should want to look and sing their best, which will help them feel their best!

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