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Breathing – Let the Muscles Do the Work

By James Gini Subscribe to RSS | January 31st 2012 | Views:

In many cases, singers develop a habit of relying on chest breathing or ‘upper dorsal breathing’, neither of which is beneficial when LEARNING TO SING.

During this type of breath function, singers allow their shoulder girdles and clavicles to rise as they breathe. Termed ‘breath-exhaustion’, this occurs somewhat naturally when we sigh or when certain activities cause us to be out of breath, and we try to rapidly fill our lungs with more air.

This method of ‘upper dorsal breathing’ causes chest displacement, collapsing of the sternum, and a loss of contact between upper and lower torso muscles, which in turn makes it much more difficult for the muscles that support breathing to do their jobs. Without the muscles working in conjunction with the diaphragm it is difficult to promote optimal air intake and expiration. Letting the muscles do their job will result in minimal chest displacement during inhalation (including breath renewal) and during phonation, and will keep the rib cage from collapsing at the end of every phrase.

Another misguided method of breathing while singing is ‘tanking up’ or inhaling too deeply. By not thinking about the length or the dynamics of the phrase or note that follows breath renewal many singers try to inhale as much air as possible during the initial breath. This method often leads to a noticeable and undesirable “grasping for air’ effect as well as rapid breath expulsion.

Breathing in too deeply ‘tanking up’ is not necessary for a singer to complete the vocal task that immediately follows the breath renewal. In fact, inhaling too deeply for long phrases can cause tensions throughout the body. This occurs due to displacement of the chest and collapsing of the rib cage which results in noisy breathing, grabbing or holding the breath in advance of the next phrase. It should also be noted that this grasping and forcing of air between phrases may also cause the singer to experience hyperventilation and dizziness.

Calming down the intake of air ‘silent breath renewals’ by slowly and quietly breathing though the nose will induce relaxation of the vocal tract, thereby helping the student to pace the aspiratory gesture. Learning to breathing through the mouth, either fast or slow, can also produce the same kind of noiseless and relaxed breath renewal.

Having the muscles work in connection with the work of the lungs and larynx to produce the desired results, including better tone production and the ability to sing extended phrases and sustain notes longer is most often referred to as ‘support’, ‘breath support’ or ‘supporting the tone’.

It is the abdominal muscles that play the most significant role in how ‘support’ enhances the process of vocal breathing. Contracting the abdominal muscles creates a higher pressure in the abdomen and thorax. This allows the diaphragm to relax and rise upward which allows it to be more carefully controlled. Keep in mind it takes less control to relax a muscle than it does to contract it. This kind of support gives the student a means of controlling their sound, or phonation.

Although there are many varying approaches to teaching how to properly ‘support’ the breath, there are two main schools of thought. One is compressing the abdomen during phonation. The other entails allowing the diaphragm to work during inhalation and to ride its relaxation though the outgoing breath.

While ‘support’ is an important component of proper vocal breathing, it is recommended that the student take advantage of all the ‘breath resources’ available so as to avoid jeopardizing the ability to freely produce sound without incurring unnecessary strain or tension.

James Gini - About Author:
Ken Tamplin Vocal Academy - Learn how to sing better with the Most powerful and effective singing schools london And singing training london and get singing classes london .

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