Tension is a very interesting thing ! I was teaching E not so long ago and over the time he has been my very diligent student we have worked as some length on letting go of his bodily tension and making his stance balanced and even and his focus more about grounding. This has worked so well, and the main exercise for this success is the ability to open the arms with palms upwards so there is space around his torso and his hands hang heavy and relaxed.
As I said he is most diligent in his work so now a good deal of the time his shoulders are even and he has a relaxed and open sound. This makes it so easy for both of us to see tension creeping back in. When he is unsure of the actual notes and rhythms his body reverts to a right shoulder lift ! This is so interesting - it means that the body is following the mind ! He cannot easily control his tension 'default' setting when his ear is pre occupied with worries about notes !
I like to think that this is a very positive step on his path to professional singing - if we know we do it then we can control it, if we are blindly focused upon the 'nuts and bolts' of the music, all the past successful physical work melts away. The old faults return and catch us unawares.
Sarah Connolly and her beautifully relaxed shoulders......Ah
It really shows me how important it is to have full muscle memory so our recalcitrant bodies do what is right without engaging the brain !
Weird thought really since I seem to spend my entire working life telling people to 'engage your brain' ! Hmmmm, I need to work this one out !