The Case of the ’Over Breathing’ Singer

Probe with Rachel Bennett
Brian, 24, was experiencing tension and over effort in his delivery of a ballad.

He was a strong singer with a real flair for the torch song but his passion in performance was reading like ‘hard work’.

It was clear from observing Brian in full song that he was over breathing and having to exhale excess breath after phrases.

This was causing a good deal of pushing in his throat area as he sang; yet he possessed a tuneful and expressive timbre.

Somehow Brian had to reduce his effort drastically.

I asked him to play the role of an old man telling his story through song

Change the Situation

Brian seemed relieved that his issues were instantly recognisable as he deeply wanted to be able to relax into his performance.

I decided that he needed to find a dramatic reason to bring the effort down so I asked him to play the role of an old man telling his story through song.

Brian sat in a chair and placed his elbows on his knees.

In this position, there was an immediate relief from the overall tension he was experiencing.

An Old Man’s Delivery

Brian sang through the ballad gently and as if he had low physical energy – he needed to lean his elbows on his legs.

The result was instant; Brian produced a gentle vibrato on half the breath he had used previously and a sweet vibrato emerged; this moved him to tears as he felt the song more than he had before.

Feeling the Body Free Up

Brian explained that he could feel his chest and rib cage rise and fall, and that he could feel the breath as it turned into vibration in his throat.

He could feel his chest and rib cage rise and fall... he could feel the breath as it turned into vibration in his throat

He described this as a warm feeling and one he felt he could control much more easily.

Naturally, he was unable to perform the song in this way, sitting down and with an elderly man’s demeanour; he had to make some connections to his real self to retain the newfound state.

Getting Vertical

Brian delivered the song in various positions of sitting, leaning and standing.

This allowed him to locate the muscle groups required to support his easier performance.

Feeling gravity can be comforting and enabling if we are pushing away from it too often.

The downward direction or focus of the voice in Brian’s case, allowed him to enjoy a natural weight.

He looked for this feeling when he stood tall and gradually was able to alternate the desired timbre and effort level at will in a standing position.

– Raie


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