How To Breathe Especially for Singing
One thing that I do enjoy is playing the keyboard and singing at the same time. In the past I have sung on worship teams but I'm up for the challenge when singing directly into a mike, occasionally looking at my piano hands and remembering to breathe!
Oh yes, the art of breathing has always engaged the interest of both singers and teachers of singing. I think this is because artistic singing depends so largely upon proper management of breath.
I have heard over the years many singers complain of shortness of breath while singing a song. I'm pretty sure this is a natural result of a lack of "breath control" or "breath support". So, let me explain further and try to clarify some of the problems of the use of breath in voice production.
We have 2 lungs and these are made up of 5 lobes. In a sense they're like air bags with no tract for air passage between them. Because of this, in chest breathing only the upper lobes are filled. You see the nerves and muscles of the torso act upon the lobes of the lungs so they function as five independent bellows.
I would say that one of the most important facts about respiration is that the lungs do not take in or expel air by any inherent power but only by the external power of the muscles of the torso.
To breathe properly, you don't need to try to breathe-in or to breathe-out the air. If the muscles of the torso move rhythmically, the air, of its own pressure, will rush into your lungs. Then we have the diaphragm which is a strong muscular tissue which is the floor of the chest box and it separates the lungs from the abdomen.
The sole function of the breath in voice production is to vibrate the vocal chords. I think the idea of managing the breath should be as far from consideration as managing the heart beat. Nerves and muscles are to be considered in the matter of tone support and not breath.
True vocal muscles should be developed by vigorous use in singing tones. These are the intrinsic muscles of the larynx. I practice rhythmic vocal exercises without words and afterwards with text. I like to begin with exercises containing the wider intervals rather than with single sustained tones. Try singing the scale up to the fifth and back. Start exercises with sustained tones with gently getting louder and softer with singing "ah" and then "ya-ha".
Now you're ready! Prepare to sing by standing erect (in my case I'm sitting with legs uncrossed) and gently expand the torso with a relaxed throat. Now expand at the chest line, front, sides and back and at the same time you're expanding the waist line, front, sides and back. The air will rush into your lungs without suction and proper intake of air will be accomplished.
I would say that you should never hold your breath preparing to sing any phrase. Sing immediately by spontaneous and fearless vocal impulse. Your mental attitude is most important in making tones with personal expression. So go ahead and... "breathe baby, breathe!"
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