Congratulations, you have just taken another step to dramatically improving your vocal technique. This will flow through to your entire singing performance. Today we give you fantastic practical exercises to improve your breathing and enlarge your lung capacity. We all need our vocal technique to be in top shape, especially our breathing! As you practice this more, it will become second nature and will improve your confidence as a singer. There will be no more running out of air and having to gasp in the middle of a line. So go on, its as easy as 1,2,3…
How to Breathe to achieve!!
Breathing, Many vocal teachers spend a lot of time on this concept. However, good breathing, should serve to support the goals of (1) a connected voice and (2) a quality tone—not supplant them. By no means should you focus on breathing at the expense of the exercises in the previous letter. Nevertheless, as you learn the concept of being grounded and anchored, you will find that you have more control over your sound.
We breathe automatically. Few of us ever think about the process, as it is so natural and effortless. Normally, when you inhale, the diaphragm—or sheet of muscle at the bottom of the rib cage—flattens, while rib muscles lift the rib cage, creating a space for air to rush in and fill your lungs. Then, as you exhale, your diaphragm and rib muscles relax, causing your lungs to shrink back and “squeeze” the air out again.
You may think that the breathing practice you have had playing sports or playing an instrument will help you with singing. Not so. The way a singer inhales and exhales differs slightly from normal inhalation and exhalation.
When you sing, you must control how much air you need, at what rate you will breathe in, and at what rate you will breathe out. The rate at which you exhale is important, as this determines how much air you send to your vocal cords and for how long. The actual process of exhalation is distinct, as you must be able to keep your rib cage expanded while using your abdominal muscles to push your diaphragm against your lungs, releasing air in a steady stream to your vocal cords.
If you try to control your breathing too consciously as you sing, you’ll create extra tension in your body, which can only affect your singing negatively.. The best thing you can do is simply have correct posture and know how a full breath should feel.
Most beginning singers are familiar with the concept of “breathing from the diaphragm,” or area at the bottom of the ribcage. This description of proper breathing technique is misleading, because what you really want to do, as a singer, is engage all areas of your body around your lungs and rib cage in the act of breathing. Therefore we would suggest that you don’t think of breathing from the diaphragm but rather imagine yourself breathing with your whole body.
Try this exercise.
1. Lie on your back on the ground. Take a deep breath and feel your upper chest and abs expand upwards. Do not tense your abdominal muscles in any way. Notice that your shoulders do not move. You could stop here, and say you have learned how to breathe from your diaphragm. However, there’s more to it than that.
2. Take another deep breath and feel your entire chest and abdominal area—all 360 degrees—expand. Your chest should expand outwards, not upwards (as you tend to do when you’re standing), and you should feel your back and side muscles expand as well. This is the kind of breathing you want to achieve while you’re singing.
Try this exercise.
1. Sit in a chair, lightly resting your lower back against the back of the chair.
2. Take a deep breath, feeling yourself expand in all 360 degrees as you learned in the previous exercise.
3. Feel your back pressing into the chair. Make sure that you don’t raise your shoulders!
All that air with which you’ve filled your lungs is there for slow release over a long period, not for using all at once. When you are singing, you may think that the more air you use to sing the better. This is not the case at all. Forcing too much air through your vocal cords will make you sing worse, because your vocal cords must tighten to hold back the volume of air. A good tone can be produced without much air at all; in fact, using less air will actually make it easier to reach those higher notes.
Just think of Goldilocks: you don’t want too much air, you don’t want too little air, you want the amount that’s just right—which is the amount that your vocal cords can handle.
Singing with too much air can produce a sound that is airy and breathy. The solution is to focus your breath on the note so that no air is wasted.
Try this exercise.
Sing a scale on ‘ah’ from the middle of your range . (you could record it and play it back on the SINGORAMA! Mini Recording Studio. Available for free exclusively when you purchase Singorama 2.0 Is it thin and breathy? Or is it focused?
Try this exercise.
1. Look at a clock with a second’s hand.
2. Take a reasonably-sized breath and sing a note on ‘ah’. Try to use up all your breath in a 5-second span. That’s exactly 5 seconds … no more, no less.
3. Repeat as many times as you like, using larger or smaller breaths. Again, the goal is to use up all the air in 5 seconds!
The above exercise teaches you to focus your breath for the purpose of filling those five seconds with no wasted air. Try it again, using a longer time period than 5 seconds. It may help to visualize filling the room with all of your sound, while using up your breath completely. With sufficient practice, you’ll achieve a clearer, focused sound and better breath management.
Well done, now you know how to breathe from your entire lower body. Keep practicing these exercises and you will have a perfectly supported voice in no time!!
In the next newsletter you’ll begin to learn a new language. In the next lesson “Taking singing as a second language” we look at the importance of Posture, Articulation, Vowels, Dipthongs and Consonants. All these will add to a more polished and professional performance. So keep a look out and get ready to add even more to your already growing musical knowledge!
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Breathing should be easy right? and singing should be fun! One of the ways to keep it fun is to give yourself goals to achieve. Some goals could be to do with how long you can hold your breath, or how long you can sustain a note. For more exercises and fun things to do with your breathing for singing, check out Singorama 2.0