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3 Things Every Singer Needs to Know About Breathing

Singer with guitar, on stage, singing into mic

Singers know that breath is the engine for singing but many of them do not spend enough time to develop good breathing technique for singing – says Katarina.

This is not surprising because the topic of breathing for singing is not the most exciting topic! This topic can be very confusing due to the many myths surrounding it.

As a result, many singers simply ignore breathing and do not realize that good breathing technique is fundamental for healthy, powerful and tension-free singing.

Naked woman sitting on chair, concentrating on posture

Breathing and optimal posture go hand in hand

1. Breathing and optimal posture go hand in hand

Everyone wants to go straight to practicing vocal exercises and singing songs. Who wants to spend time finding the optimal chest, body, and vocal tract posture?

The truth is that good breathing technique cannot be developed if your chest, body, and vocal tract are not optimally aligned. For example, if you start breathing or singing with a collapsed chest, your diaphragm will not be able to descend fully, which means that your breathing for singing will most likely be inefficient and effortful.

Moreover, if your head, neck, shoulders, spine, hips or legs are misaligned, your body will compensate by engaging unnecessary muscles and creating tension. Breathing (and singing) then becomes laborious and ineffective.

Finally, lifting the soft palate, widening the pharynx, lowering the larynx and positioning the articulators allow a singer to not only inhale silently and exhale efficiently, but most importantly to produce rich and powerful sound.

2. You cannot feel your diaphragm when inhaling or exhaling

How many times have you heard “breathe into your belly” or “put your hand on your belly to feel the diaphragm”?

Well, this is not possible. You cannot breathe into your abdomen because the lungs are contained in your chest cavity. The lungs sit on top of the diaphragm.

The diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscle that contracts downward during inhalation and pushes on the inner organs in your abdomen (viscera). There is not much space in the abdomen and as a result, the abdominal wall moves outward. This outward movement is often mistaken for the moving diaphragm.

How many times have you heard “breathe into your belly”? This is not possible

However, what you see and feel during inhalation is the inner organs being pushed down and out by a descending diaphragm.

3. Good breathing technique is a skill that needs to be learned

Why would a singer need to learn how to breathe? We all breathe naturally and subconsciously. But there are some fundamental differences between “breathing” and “breathing technique”.

The breathing cycle is longer during singing, there is more muscle engagement and the diaphragm descends lower during breathing for singing versus breathing during speaking or at rest.

Efficient breathing technique for singing will make your voice powerful, flexible and rich. It will allow you to connect your voice to your breath and use the energy and support of your body to make beautiful sounds.

If you are serious about singing, don’t ignore this topic. Include some breathing exercises into your daily routine and learn how to breathe efficiently when singing.

katarinaKatarina is a speech and language pathologist who has studied vocal production for several years. Her specialist areas include the vocal mechanism and ways to produce stronger sounds. She created her website ‘How 2 Improve Singing’ to connect with other singers and share her knowledge via blogs and interactive articles. Her mission is to encourage people of any age to sing more in a healthy way. tips.how2improvesinging.com

  • David Schuette

    I have been singing since i could? haha What i mean is i have been singing since i was a child in grade school and Church choir, It has always been my passion, I have never had private lessons or used a Couch, That being said i took the FULL TIME PLUNGE when i was 19, layed off from my GM factory job, was Married with a newborn Baby Girl, oh! and all the bills that go with it! I am not Trying to write my life story here, just stating things relevant to my point, It was the late 70’s and my influences and Genre (Classic Rock like Zeppelin) were AT WAR with Disco, haha, well it was not funny at the time anyways because GIGS! all of a sudden became hard to find, so here is where my beginning Bio becomes relevant, but it also ties into my self induced issues with stamina, VOCAL STAMINA!! haha HEY i was 19!! No Prob with the other kind of “Stamina” I digress, anyways i was full of hope! energy! and Confidence! because i was A SINGER IN A ROCK AND ROLL BAND!! WOW WAS I FRIGGIN COOL OR WHAT? haha, OK here i was in a band, my unemployment insurance ran out! no savings because i used and borrowed EVERYTHING I COULD so i could buy a PA System then the band could get GIGS to make a living? While we prepared and polished our act for STARDOM!!! this is were the “disco” story comes into play, (pun intended) Here we are all Dressed up and no place to play! OUCH! Believe it or not? It was kind of a blessing in disguise concerning my aforementioned “STAMINA” (vocal, i was 19) haha, In that regard since we were lucky to get 2 weeks booked per month?(Average 5 nights per week, 4 sets a night back then) so i was able to Squeak (pun intended) by till we had time off to recover, So i had my DREAM BUBBLE deflated by reality, I had to learn fast and since I was Broke? on my own, I will conclude this Bio Rant? for lack of better words with what could be considered The Moral To This Story? Even if you found your true talent or you want to try to Sing for a living? NOTHING WILL REPLACE PHYSICAL CONDITIONING AND KNOWLEDGE OF YOUR INSTRUMENT!!! NOT EVEN PURE GOD GIVEN TALENT! God gave us flowers, but even they will die if not cared for.

  • Amo Green

    Don’t You Eat That Yellow Snow ….