“He who sings frightens away his ills.” - Miguel de Cervantes
We all have our favourite songs and there are a few classics that we love to do a rendition of in the shower, too. However, many of us might want to keep our singing there if we haven’t worked on our voice. If you’d like to improve your singing or start learning how to sing, here’s what you need to know about breathing, one of the most important aspects of singing.
In this article, we'll see why you should sing with your stomach, offer some useful tips and advice for diaphragmatic breathing, point you in the right direction for resources for singers, and discuss the benefits of singing with your stomach and mastering your breathing.
The Reasons to Sing with Your Stomach
Starting a singing class isn’t a walk in the park. The idea of singing with your stomach might be quite confusing, too.
So what does it mean?
Singing with your stomach is a breathing technique used by singers that allows them to amplify their voice without overexerting their vocal cords or “singing with their throat”. Straining your vocal cords can lead to nodules, for one. This can result in a partial or full loss of your voice.
Singing with your stomach is good for your health.
So how do you do it?
Singers need to use their diaphragm, the muscles underneath the thoracic cavity. The diaphragm contracts when you breathe in and relaxes as you breathe out. You can use it to control your breathing and expel the air that you use when singing.
You can teach yourself how to use your diaphragm to sing. In this case, you’ll need to practise with some breathing exercises and strengthen your diaphragm. However, it’s recommended that you work with a vocal coach or tutor to avoid picking up any bad habits.
A coach or tutor can also keep teaching you once you’ve mastered diaphragmatic breathing.
By working regularly on their diaphragm, singers can improve their technique, sing more loudly, and sing for longer. This is why most professional singers will recommend diaphragmatic breathing when you sing.
10 Tips for Improving Your Breathing When You Sing
As you’ll have understood, breathing is essential when it comes to singing and working on your breath control is a must if you want to become a good singer.
Here are some tips to help you master your breathing.
- Use your diaphragm to improve your breathing.
- Regularly do breathing exercises.
- Adopt the right posture to help you breathe and sing better.
- Open your throat when you sing.
- Work on passing between your two ranges.
- Learn to articulate to breathe better.
- Learn to relax to breathe better.
- Use the airflow effectively when you sing.
- Warm-up your voice before you sing.
These tips will allow you to breathe correctly when you sing.
Standing up straight is essential for every singer. By standing with your back straight and your shoulders back, you allow the air to circulate more easily towards your mouth.
You should also make sure that you open your mouth to allow the air to create a sound more effectively. If your mouth is too closed, you can impede the passage of air and an audience may struggle to hear you.
Similarly, you should always articulate. To practise, you might want to read the lyrics aloud and exaggerate the pronunciation of each word. This exercise will allow your mouth to get used to producing the sounds.
Singers should also be relaxed. Stressed muscles contract and restrict the airflow so you should consider doing relaxation exercises before you start singing. Usually, you’ll do these exercises during your warm-up.
Finding Breathing Exercises
Where do you start with breathing exercises?
You need to regularly practise to ensure that you get the most out of each exercise but you also need to be doing the right exercises.
You should start with the exercises recommended by professional singers as expert opinion on breathing exercises can be invaluable to aspiring singers.
But to whom to turn?
The first place you might want to try is a music school or a conservatoire. These establishments regularly offer singing lessons and can help students develop their voice.
Singing classes will almost always start with a warm-up and these may also include breathing exercises and the music lessons in these establishments are often world-renowned so you can be sure that you’re getting some of the best tuition.
This doesn’t mean that they’re the only places where you can learn breathing techniques for singers. There are also private music schools or academies which are private businesses that offer music lessons in the practical sense rather than the academic sense. You should do your research and see what types of lessons they offer. You might also want to meet up with the teachers or tutors and talk about what they teach.
You could also join a choir or a group of singers as these singers could show you the ropes and teach you some new breathing techniques and exercises. Whether it’s from a singing teacher or not, it’s always good to keep an eye out for new breathing exercises.
Finally, you could learn breathing techniques and exercises from a private singing tutor. They can teach you from the comfort of your own home. Whatever you want to learn, they’ll be happy to help. They can provide you with a plethora of different breathing exercises to try.
Don’t forget that you can also teach yourself some breathing exercises. You can easily find videos on YouTube, for example. Lots of passionate and professional singers are sharing their knowledge online. Social networks are also a useful place to look for singing tips and advice. Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter are all gold mines for tips and tricks.
Don’t forget singing books, either. There are plenty of literary resources that can teach you about singing and breath control. There are books on singing available from libraries, book shops, and online stores.
The Advantages of Singing with Your Stomach
So why should you sing with your stomach rather than with your throat?
Let’s have a quick recap.
Firstly, singing with your stomach will protect your voice. There’s nothing worse than a singer who’s lost their voice. You have to sing like this to avoid nodules.
Secondly, you can sing more loudly so everyone can hear you. Singers without microphones or those singing over another musical instrument will need to ensure that their voice carries. As long as you’re breathing with your stomach and have your mouth open, the airflow will be better and your voice will carry more.
Furthermore, breathing with your stomach will give you better control over your breath overall. Try this exercise with a drinking straw to see how much you’re progressing:
Blow through a drinking straw into a glass of water. Breathe in for 4 seconds and then exhale into the straw for 10 seconds. The airflow should be consistent throughout. The bubbles in the water should allow you to better see the air.
Singing with your stomach will also help you to relax. Just make sure that you use the air for singing. Breathing is a natural and autonomous process and should stay that way. Don’t force yourself too much. This is why we recommend you get a professional singing teacher to help you.
And always sing with passion!
If you need help mastering diaphragmatic breathing, 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.
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!