“The only thing better than singing is more singing.” - Ella Fitzgerald
Those passionate about singing seem to enjoy all the benefits of it. According to a study by the Department of Music Goethe University Frankfurt, singing can improve your immune system and help fight illness.
Singing is also good for your mood and self-confidence.
Some singers also say that singing calms them down. This is particularly true when singing with your stomach i.e. using diaphragmatic breathing when you sing.
So are there no downsides to doing this?
In this article, we'll see how diaphragmatic breathing can help your vocal cords, help your voice to carry farther, manage your breathing as you sing, and help you to relax. We'll also look at the importance of using this technique correctly.
Using Diaphragmatic Breathing to Save Your Vocal Cords
When you first start singing, it’s recommended that you sing with your stomach. This technique can help you use the airflow more effectively, meaning you don’t have to strain your vocal cords.
Naturally, most amateur singers use their throat when they sing. This is the technique that seems most natural to us. However, if you want to sing properly, you can’t just use your throat. It’ll strain your vocal cords. When your throat starts to hurt, it’s time to start singing with your stomach.
You can use your diaphragm to control the airflow through your respiratory system. Don’t breathe out all at once as you’ll have no air for singing.
Using this technique can help you save your vocal cords. This method is used by professional singers to avoid damaging their vocal cords in the long run. If you strain your vocal cords, you run the risk of nodules. Nodules are an inflammation of the vocal cords caused by repetitive rubbing and can lead to you losing your voice.
As you can see, it’s a good idea to use diaphragmatic breathing to avoid straining your vocal cords and losing your voice.
Diaphragmatic Breathing: Making Your Voice Carry
Generally, when we sing, we like to be heard. We sing in public, to friends and family, or strangers in the street or on stage and again, straining your vocal cords to be heard is a bad idea.
Singing with your stomach is a much better way to be heard and to make your voice carry. Diaphragmatic breathing can expel the air stored up and create a better sound. This will allow you to sing more loudly. The more air you have in your lungs, the louder the sound will be. You just have to give it a go.
Breathe in deeply, hold your breath, then make an “ooh” sound. The sound will be louder right at the start when you have more air in your lungs than at the end once you’re out of breath. With this technique, you’ll be able to sing songs and make your voice heard without straining your vocal cords and the results will be impressive. Some teachers and speakers use this technique to be heard right at the back of a room.
Of course, don’t forget to make sure that your mouth is open wide. You don’t want to impede the airflow by giving it very little space to escape through. You need to find a good balance for your voice to carry.
Improving Breath Control with Diaphragmatic Breathing
Singing with your stomach can improve your breath control and capacity. It’s very useful when you have a lot to sing with no rests.
If you don’t manage your breath, you may run out of breath in the middle of a line and either breathe in when you should be singing or lose power towards the end of the line as you don’t have enough air to sing well, neither of which is ideal.
By singing with your stomach, you can learn to control your breath and save your breath for the right parts of the song.
Diaphragmatic breathing is very natural when we’re babies or sleeping. Your stomach will move in and out as you breathe. Singing with your stomach isn’t natural when you’re awake but it’s still possible to learn.
Practise abdominal breathing as it’ll help you take deeper breaths and control the airflow throughout a song. A lot of singers practise using different breathing exercises.
Blow into a glass of water through a drinking straw. Breathe in for 4 seconds and then exhale into the straw for 10 seconds. Then do it again but exhale for 15 seconds. Finally, decrease the amount of time you spend inhaling. You’ll get used to exhaling for longer and longer periods. Make sure that the bubbles stay consistent.
Using Diaphragmatic Breathing to Relax
What better way to relax than by doing something you love?
Singing with your stomach will also help you to relax. Not only does singing improve your self-confidence, but breathing exercises can also help you to relax.
Try it for yourself: breathe in deeply and fill your lungs, hold your breath for a few seconds and then relax as you gently breathe out. By doing this a few times, you’ll work on your abdominal breathing but also relax your muscles. It might even make you yawn!
This technique is really good when you first start learning to sing as it’ll become second nature to you. You can also use this technique to calm down children or before you have do give a speech or do a job interview.
You’ll also sing better when you’re relaxed. When singers are stressed, it can affect their voice so make sure that your posture allows air to flow unimpeded.
Singing with Your Stomach: Don’t Overdo It
Diaphragmatic breathing isn’t always a good thing, especially if you don’t do it right. It needs to be a natural process and you can’t overdo it or you’ll not enjoy any of the benefits.
Some people end up trying too hard to control their breathing and end up less relaxed than if they didn’t. Each singer is different and it’s recommended that you get a professional singing coach or tutor to help you at first.
Some people mistakenly contract their abdominal muscles and impede the airflow, resulting in the opposite to the desired effect.
Singing with your stomach requires training and you have to take the technique seriously. Breathing exercises stop being effective if you overdo it and they can also make you dizzy.
There are plenty of advantages to singing with your stomach, which is why plenty of professional singers use this method. The techniques are proven to make you sing better, help you to relax, and help your voice to carry. The only disadvantage is that the training can be counter-productive if done wrong.
This is why we recommend that you learn diaphragmatic breathing and breath control from a professional singing coach or tutor and there are plenty of great singing tutors on Superprof who are ready to help you. You can enjoy face-to-face tutorials, online tutorials, or even group tutorials. Each type of tutorial has its pros and cons so carefully consider which is right for you.
Face-to-face tutorials are usually the most expensive but they're often the most cost-effective as every minute of the session is spent focusing on you. If you want to focus on diaphragmatic breathing, you can!
Online tutorials are usually cheaper as the tutor doesn't have to travel to their student but for hands-on subjects, sometimes these types of tutorials can suffer without someone physically there to help you.
Finally, group tutorials are a good way for you and a few friends to share the cost of the tutor's time. You won't get as much of the tutor's attention, but they're great for aspiring singers on a budget.
Fortunately, a lot of the tutors on Superprof also offer the first hour of tuition for free so you can try out various potential tutors to make sure you've picked the right one. While you probably won't get a lesson in the traditional sense during the first hour, it's still a good opportunity to discuss what your learning objectives are, how you like to learn, and see how your tutor can help you.
Make sure you get along, too, as you may be spending a lot of time with your singing tutor!