Today we are going to be talking about breath control. This post about breath control will correlate to my previous post about how to breathe properly.
Breath control is a pretty self explanatory term. When we talk about breath control, we are talking about the ability to manipulate your breath in order to have greater control over your voice. In order to properly control our breath, we need to learn how to breathe from our diaphragm. So let’s get started on discussing how to do just that.
In general, most people breathe incorrectly without even knowing it. As we grow up, we move from breathing from our diaphragm to breathing with the top part of our lungs. While this method of breathing works, it is very inefficient because it does not utilize the full capacity of the lungs. What we want to do as singers is utilize all of our lung capacity in order to get the most out of each breath we take in.
Start by examining how you breathe. Stand up straight against a wall and take a breath. If your chest bumps out and your shoulders rise, you are breathing inefficiently. Now I want you to place your hands on your stomach and take another breath. This time I want you to breathe in and push out your stomach. Be sure that your chest stays still and your shoulders don’t move. Now hold that breath in and feel all the muscles that you are engaging: your abdominals, your obliques, and your lower back muscles. Those muscles are there to help you! Now release this breath slowly by making a “tssssssssss” sound (almost like the hiss of a snake except with a “t” on the front end). Feel your muscles help your regulate your breath as you slowly breathe out.
This is what people talk about when they ask you to sing from your diaphragm. You can work on exercising your diaphragmatic breathing by standing up against a wall (or lying down flat on your back), taking in solid breaths, and slowly exhaling with the “tsssssssss” sound. Make sure your shoulders don’t rise and your chest doesn’t bump out!
Practicing this exercise often will give you greater control over your breath and, consequently, greater control over your voice. Will this help your tone sound prettier? Most likely not, but it will give you extra power and control over your voice. You need to learn proper vocal cord closure and other singing techniques in order to build a solid tone quality. BUT…breathing properly will help you control your notes when you are singing, which will distinguish you from other singers!
Just think of David Phelps when you think of breath control. While he has an incredible voice with a beautifully sweet tone, it is the control over his voice that is so impressive. Where does he get all that control? – from breathing properly!
I hope this post is helpful! As always, sing on my friends!
Photo Credits: informatique (flickr)