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you're probably having tension because your actively trying to do it.

just stand straight, slight bend at the knees, feet about shoulder width apart, one foot slightly in front of the other......

raise your arms and hands directly above your head and lower them slowly out to your sides and down.

you're all set.

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So I know the sternum is supposed to stay up during exhalation, I find a lot of tension in that area trying to keep it up like that, just wondering if it gets easier with practice and will the tension lessen?

Blameitonthevodka: Bob's suggested exercise will help you find where the sternum/chest should be positioned. It becomes part of your posture, and not so much involved in the inhale/exhale cycle.

The there are a couple very practical reasons why attention is paid to this:

1) the falling sternum produces exhalation force that is not managed by the diaphragm... affects support.

2) the falling sternum pulls on muscles that go upward to connect to the larynx, part of the laryngeal suspension system. This can produce pitch instability and strain.

3) The high, noble chest position looks great onstage. :-)

Those things said, what is most important IMO is that (wherever it starts), the sternum not fall during the course of the note. It does not need to be artificially (strainfully/rigidly) high, just not falling. There are even some very fine singers who can be observed with some motion in this area, so its not absolutely essential, just very helpful.

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