Mar 7 – S is for Ribs.
In Voice class the other night we worked on expanding our ribs. Three hours expanding your ribs, how often do you do that?
First of all we had a sub for the first part of class. Our teacher had a meeting to be at so we had him watching over us and leading us through first part of our rib-expanding journey.
I think his name was Andy, but I could be wrong, still I am going to call him that anyway. Andy was really cool, and it sounds like he might teach at Freehold. I would like to take a class from him.
We started off the rib expansion process by putting our hands on our sides at the bottom of the ribcage, touching the short ribs. Then we would breath in and try to make them expand. This is harder than you think. We should be able to move them, but a lot of us have developed patterns of breathing that don’t move the ribs, or the belly, which is where you get the most bang for your breathing buck.
We then laid on our backs on our yoga mats (yes, now I own a yoga mat), and breathed in, again trying to expand the low ribs outward, then exhaled slowly with a sssssss sound like a hissing snake. With our backs on the floor our ribs couldn’t move that way, so you got more expansion (if you were getting any expansion in the first place).
We did that for several minutes. A room full of people laying on their backs, holding on to their short ribs, hissing like snakes. That was just to give you a visual. Moving on now.
We then rolled on to one side. This stopped the movement of whatever side you were on and increased the movement of the top side ribs. More hissing. Then we moved onto the other side. More hissing.
Then we got on our knees, folded ourselves in half, and laid our bellies on our thighs and our head on the floor, kowtow position. Let me tell you this certainly isolates the breathing to the back. I am getting over a cold, so my sinuses didn’t appreciate it much, but I soldiered along hissing with the rest.
Then we moved to the back again to relax from that position. Then we stood up again and I do have to say that after all that hissing and rib isolation, my ribs were moving outward more in the standing position. Are they moving that way now? No. But then you are supposed to practice this. It’s like dance or karate. You have to do it over and over until it becomes second nature.
The reason for all this? To learn to maximize your breathing capacity so that when you need to project on stage you have the air to do it, and depending on how you are breathing you change the quality of your voice. The idea then being that you can make conscious decisions about the quality of sound to fit your character. Complicated and difficult. Practice, practice, practissssssssssssssssssssssssssss.