Singers’ Breathing Technique Benefits
Many singers are working hard at improving their tone and high notes, but do they realise that their ‘engine’, their starting point for all quality sound is their breath, their breathing technique? Different singing teachers take different stances on how to achieve the best results. Intercostal breathing is a particularly common technique, in which the ribs are expanded and held out, relatively firmly, so that all the muscles can act strongly inside. A simplified version of this can be seen in this video, in which I discuss “Breathing from the Core”:
Singers’ Breathing Technique from Different Places
Some singers try too hard with their breathing and so the opposite kind of teaching is needed – getting students to blow their air out, letting their body naturally respond afterwards, expanding by instinct. The next stage is to help the ribs and lungs expand a little further.
Many singers only breathe from the front of their tummy, but the lower back should expand too. When this happens, the ribs move out from the spine and the lungs are perceived as expanding by 360 degrees, like entire balloons being filled.
Another direct connection with breathing and tone is posture. We naturally hold a slight ‘duck’ shape curve at the bottom of our spine. By unlocking the knees and straightening the lower back, the lower torso muscles have something firmer to push against, making them more effective. The lower back muscles are also more engaged and these are our strongest muscles because they hold us up all day.
Singers’ Breathing Technique – Diaphragmatic Breathing
Many singing teachers discuss ‘diaphragmatic breathing’. In reality, we don’t use the diaphragm because that is an involuntary muscle that makes us sneeze or cough. However, we do use other muscles in that region.
Some choral directors are actually to blame for bad tone. Instructing singers to breathe in a bar early is actually counter-productive. When you take your breath in too early and you hold your breathe, tension builds at the top of the neck (try it, hold your breath and see what the result is).
Singings’ Breathing Technique: Breathing through Your Nose is a No-No
What about breathing in? I disagree with singing teachers and vocal coaches who instruct pupils to breathe through their noses. Try the opposite, breathe through your mouth with an “ah” shape. Can you feel the difference between the two? Breathing in through the nose narrows the throat, but breathing in through the mouth with an “ah” opens the throat wide. If you combine the two though, you then have the most open breath and throat, which also allows the most open and warm tone.
In summary: posture, spine position, how early you breathe in, using your mouth with a little nose for inhaling and considering your lungs as 360 degree balloons, all enhance your tone. If you want to improve your tone, consider your breath first!
Singing Lesson Online – Digital Library Or 1-1
The library of courses is rapidly expanding. It contains digital magazines with embedded teaching videos on every page. Courses range from Beyonce style licks, to pentatonic improvisation, to Justin Bieber, to Dua Lipa and many besides. Structured tutorials included ear training, vocal technique and improvisation. Members of the library also get to request their own courses.
If you would like to explore specific individual 1-1, bespoke singing lessons then visit:
www.the-maestro-online.com and book online.