“There's no half-singing in the shower, you're either a rock star or an opera diva.” - Josh Groban
There are many benefits to singing. In addition to being a great way to express your emotions and improve your mood, it’s also a bit of a workout. There are a few muscles you have to use when singing from the tip of your tongue to the pit of your stomach. The use of your facial muscles is also good for reducing wrinkles.
Singing uses other muscles, too, particularly the diaphragm. In this article, we're going to look at singing with your stomach, what it is, how you can learn to do it, the best breathing exercises for aspiring singers, how you can teach yourself, and how music tutors and teachers can help.
What Is “Singing with Your Stomach”?
A lot of people love singing. It puts us in a good mood and is a good way to express yourself. Many of those who love music decide to take their passion for it one step further with music or singing lessons. If you're one of them, you’ll very quickly learn what singing with your stomach is.
So what is it?
Singing with your stomach is using your diaphragm to control your breathing as you sing.
So what is your diaphragm?
The diaphragm is a muscle located at the base of your thoracic cavity. It’s the muscle that can cause hiccoughs.
There are a few ways to find your diaphragm:
Lie on your back and place a book on your stomach. Use your stomach muscles to lift the book and then breathe out. The muscles you used to lift the book were your diaphragm. Once you’ve found your diaphragm, you’ll know what you need to work on.
You need to work on your diaphragm if you want to master your breathing and improve your singing. The diaphragm is used to inhale. The diaphragm contracts when you breathe in and relaxes as you breathe out which means you can use these muscles to push air out of your lungs and amplify the volume of your singing.
Technically, you can’t actually “sing” with your diaphragm. It just helps you to breathe while you are singing.
Learning to Sing Better through Breathing Exercises
As you’ll have understood, breathing is an important part of singing well. Without breathing, you can’t increase the volume of your voice so it’s important to do some breathing exercises during your singing lessons.
Generally, these exercises won’t take longer than 10 minutes. Of course, if you need them, you can always work on your breathing for longer than this both during singing lessons and in your free time.
One of the most common techniques is breathing in gently, holding your breath for a few seconds, and then relaxing. As you breathe in, make sure your diaphragm is working. You have to breathe in deeply to see that your diaphragm is doing its job properly.
Start every singing lesson with an exercise like this one as you’ll not only improve your breathing but you’ll also relax a bit, which is essential for improving your singing.
This exercise is useful before interviews, exams, or any other stressful event. The tensing and relaxing of the diaphragm can help to relieve tension. That said, it may make you yawn!
Each singer does different exercises. There are a few different exercises so choose the ones that work best for you. Don't forget to make sure that you do them correctly, though, as you don’t want to pick up any bad habits.
Who said that singing wasn’t exercising?
You must have a good posture when you sing as it allows you to improve the airflow throughout your body. If you’re hunched over, you’ll impede the airflow and it’ll be harder to sing.
Strengthen Your Diaphragm to Improve Your Singing
In addition to working on your breathing, you’ll also need to strengthen your diaphragm to improve your singing. The better the condition of these muscles, the more they’ll do for your singing.
Working on your diaphragm isn’t as painful or as strenuous as working on other muscles, though. For example, you won't need to do situps or press-ups for it. You can tone your diaphragm between 5 and 10 minutes.
- Lie on your back with your arms by your side.
- Breathe in gently through your nose. Your stomach shouldn’t expand. Don’t force it.
- Breathe out through your mouth. Start again.
As you do this exercise more and more, your diaphragm will be used a little more each day and get stronger. You should see an improvement in your vocal technique after a few weeks.
Teaching Yourself to Sing with Your Stomach
There are a few ways to learn to sing with your stomach. So while we do recommend that you learn useful breathing techniques from professional music and singing teachers, you can also teach yourself a few useful ones. Of course, you need a bit of discipline to learn like this. The first thing you need to do is make sure that you don’t overexert your vocal cords as you can damage them.
There are a few ways to do breathing exercises and work on your diaphragm. Online resources, for one, can help you learn to sing with your stomach. A lot of those who love music and singing share advice and tips online.
There are also many YouTube channels dedicated to singing. These videos explain how to do various breathing exercises and drills.
Of course, check out the credentials of the author before blindly following their advice.
Novice singers can also get information on singing technique and exercises from books in libraries, book shops, or even online book stores.
Learn to Sing with Your Stomach from a Singing Coach or Tutor
Some amateur singers might feel lost without a professional there to help them. Fortunately, there are a few different ways to get singing lessons and master diaphragmatic breathing.
The first option is to get group singing lessons in a music school, college, or conservatoire. These lessons will usually follow a curriculum and teach you all the techniques you’ll need to get started with singing. You might want to learn the foundations from a professional and then move onto teaching yourself.
There are also private singing lessons. The advantage of private singing lessons is that your tutor can focus on whatever you want to learn. Furthermore, your lessons will be tailored to your needs, musical tastes, etc. Make the most of your time with them by asking them to focus on diaphragmatic breathing.
Is “Singing with Your Stomach” Dangerous?
Is there any way that diaphragmatic breathing is bad for your health?
Yes and no.
It depends on how you do it.
You need to know that singing with your stomach can avoid overexertion on the vocal cords. Forcing your voice can lead to vocal cord damage or nodules. This can lead to a loss of voice or even surgery.
Singing with your stomach also allows you to rely less on your vocal cords for carrying your voice. Many singers use it as a way to share the weight of the work done by the vocal cords. However, you need to breathe correctly and have an exceptional posture. If you get the exercises wrong, you can pick up bad habits or injure yourself.
You've got to take it seriously!
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!