Breath control when singing is something all singers need to develop over time. Controlled breathing helps singers sustain notes smoothly and it contributes to singing with more range.
Here are some things to consider, which can improve your singing breath:
1. First, your diaphragm is a muscle membrane, which separates abdominal cavities and it works to control your exhalation. Most people are not using their diaphragms while breathing. Instead, they are using their upper chest and lungs while breathing. That’s why correct vocal breathing technique does not feel natural at first. It is something you need to practice and then it will become a beneficial singing habit.
2. First, place one hand on your abdominal region and your other hand on your chest. As you inhale, you should feel your abdominals blow up like a balloon. If you can feel that abdominal region expand during an inhale, you are using your diaphragm for breathing. This is good. Notice, when you are habitually breathing throughout your day, you’re probably not experiencing this expansion of the stomach area.
That’s because we have not been breathing correctly for a lot of years and didn’t understand your vocal anatomy. Stress, distraction and other influences cause even shorter breaths from the upper chest. So keep this in mind and try to become more conscious of your breathing throughout the day. You can start taking notice and using your diaphragm for more breathing throughout the day. This is a simple step, which will contribute to effect breath control while singing.
3. Next, you have your other hand on your chest area. AFTER you feel the abdominal area inflate upon an inhale, the expansion should slowly move to the upper chest. So the inflation is moving from the lower abdominal area to the upper chest area in a smooth, slow movement. This is providing more oxygen to your body while providing a first step to controlled breathing. When you hear people say “take a deep breath”, now you can truly perform this action.
4. O.K., now we have taken a healthy inhale. Slowly exhale that breath while singing any note. You can time how long the note lasts. Notice that you are using your abdominal muscles and diaphragm during that controlled exhalation. This is why some basic abdominal strengthening exercises, such as sit-ups, can help our vocal breathing. Some people like to slowly exhale with their tongue pressed on the upper mouth. This produces a “hissing” sound. You can time how long this hiss lasts on the controlled, slow exhale.
Trust me, after you practice, you can make these hissing exhales last for minutes! One of my earliest vocal coaches demonstrated this to me. If you don’t want to hiss, just practice sustaining a note for longer periods of time on your controlled exhale. Again, feel your abdominal region still puffed out slightly while you’re singing and exhaling. This is where the diaphragmatic control is happening. Your muscles down there will become more developed and useful as we practice this simple controlled breathing. We will start sustaining notes longer and with much less effort as we learn breath control while singing.