Singing Exercises: Breathing

Here is the first of a series of singing exercises.

To begin with, we need to breathe correctly. Below is a video that describes the diaphragmatic breathing that singers need to utilise.

An additional tip when practising the exercises described in the video is to put your thumbs just below where your ribs meet in the middle, and the rest of your hands on your abdomen, down to and just past your belly button. This hand position is just a little higher than that described in the video.

This way, you should feel with your thumbs as your diaphragm initially engages and contracts on the in-breath.  The abdomen should rise,  as the diaphragm engages and pulls downwards. The open rib cage should expand, but only slightly, as a result of the inhalation caused by the diaphragm, as well as sympathetic engagement of the muscles between the ribs, the intercostal muscles. But don’t try to breathe with your chest or shoulders.

Singers need to get a lot of air in quickly to support the voice.  If you have time, take a long, deep breath, but often we need to take a short, sharp, deep breath, through both mouth and nose. One way of thinking of this is to imagine you are about to dive into a swimming pool. Breathing is certainly the most physical part of singing.

Here is a good summary of how breathing impacts singing. -This guy, Alexander Massey, seems sound and knowledgeable, if exceedingly thorough; if you want to listen and watch to his entire YouTube series, (recommended) click here!

And here is the same guy with his explanation of what the diaphragm does:

And next, the importance of using the abdominal muscles to control the release of the diaphragm; to “support” the breath and the voice on the exhalation.

Finally,  practise, first lying down, and then standing with good posture, taking a deep breath, and then exhaling making a “sss” sound and count or time yourself to see how long you can sustain and support the breath.

Try this taking a long, deep breath, and then,  try again, this time taking a short, sharp but again deep breath, to replicate what you need to do when breathing between phrases when singing.

As an alternative to “sss” you can sing using the “So Me La So Me”, or better, “Sol Me Sol Me Sol Me La Sol Me” pattern, at a comfortable pitch.

Author: admin

An educator, musician, music composer and arranger, and broadcaster.

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