This article will walk you through three ways to learn to breathe for singing. If you'd rather watch a video, click below!
Breathing is super important when it comes to singing. Think of the air that you breathe as the energy that powers your voice. If you don’t have enough air to support your tone to begin with, you might find yourself running out of breath in the middle of phrases, feeling vocally fatigued and experiencing vocal tension. This is because when you do not have enough air to support your tone, you start to rely on extrinsic muscles that shouldn’t be involved in vocal production to help you through phrases, and this causes vocal tension.
Most of the students who walk into my studio are unaware that their idea of a deep breath is actually a shallow breathe. When they inhale their chest usually rises and their belly sucks in. This is unnatural (even though it might feel comfortable) and as far as any type of deep breathing for singing or meditation is concerned, a deep belly breath with an outward belly expansion and stationary chest is the goal. Do you know what kind of breather you are? Let’s do a check!
Stand in front of a mirror. Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your belly. Inhale and pay attention to what you see and feel move. If you notice that your chest is rising and your belly is pulling in, then you need to work on taking a deeper breath. Let's get into my three ways to learn to breathe for singing.
1. Drinking Straw Breath.
Place your hands on either side of your rib cage, position your mouth as if you were going to breathe through a drinking straw and inhale. You should feel your belly and even your ribcage expand. The reason your belly is expanding is because as you inhale and your lungs fill with air, the diaphragm goes down and as the diaphragm goes down it displaces organs in your belly, causing an outward protrusion. This is what it feels like when people say to "Breathe from your diaphragm", even though you are not actually breathing from your diaphragm.
2. Lie Down On The Ground.
If you are finding that as you inhale your chest is still rising, this is a great exercise for you. Lie down on the ground and put some kind of object on your belly. Since you’re lying on the ground it’s going to be impossible for your chest and shoulders to move. Inhale and notice the object on your belly rise and fall. See what you can do to make it go up and go down and get control of that motion.
3. Vacuum Breath.
Places your hands on either side of your rib cage and take a deep breath. I want you to imagine that you’re an angry librarian and say SHHHHHHH really forcefully. As you do this your belly should suck in. The goal is to “shhh” out all of the air and make your belly suck in as if you’re trying to make yoru navel touch your spine. Once you’ve shhh’d out all of the air, hold it for a second to create a vacuum effect, and then let go and take a breath with your mouth open. You should notice your belly pop out. Watch the video for further explanation!
Well there you have it: three ways to learn how to breathe for singing! Which way worked out the best for you? Let me know!
OH and if you haven't already, be sure to get my free warm up guide which features these breathing exercises and a 5 part video series on how to warm up your voice, as well as downloadable vocal exercises you can do anywhere, anytime.