When singing how do you breathe?
While normal breathing involves a shallow inhalation and a steady exhalation followed by a pause before starting again, breathing for singing include four stages: inhalation, suspension, controlled exhalation, and recovery.
The following article will provide useful information about breathing in singing. Let’s read on to discover!
How Important Is Breathing In Singing?
Singing is the result of the phonation process. During phonation, air passes through your vocal folds in the larynx, causing them to vibrate.
How you choose to decrease or increase the tension in your vocal folds and the amount of air passing through them can change how you sound and the kind of sound produced.
Breathing is a crucial part of singing since it determines both the volume level and the sound quality. Without adequate air passing through the vocal folds, it’s impossible to create a sound.
That’s why training breathing is one of the keys to the success of any aspiring singer.
Better breathing technique enables a singer to gain more control over their voice. Also, greater mastery will allow them to accurately access a broader range of notes and hit those semitones and tones.
Besides, solid knowledge of vocal breathing exercises contributes to stable singing stamina and the ability to perform advanced techniques, like tremolos and vibratos.
If you desire to become an excellent singer, it’s time to upskill your breathing and explore breathing exercises.
What Happens If You Have Poor Breathing?
When a person breathes normally, the exhalation and inhalation are pretty shallow. Then, there will be a short pause before the cycle starts again. This breathing style is like operating on autopilot as there isn’t extra effort required.
Trying to breathe the same way as when you’re walking in the park or sitting at a desk does not work for singing.
Singing could do with various breathing techniques and concerted effort. If these fundamentals are not in place, the vocalist will deliver poor results.
How a person normally breathes differs from breathing when singing in which the exhale is longer than the inhale and requires even exertion.
The singer has to be aware of their breathing technique to avoid letting the exhale flow involuntarily.
Plus, as said, breaths are fairly shallow when you breathe normally since our body exerts the minimal amount of effort possible.
As a result, you only utilize about 5-10 percent of your lung capacity during any given breath. However, when singing, that number peaks at 50 percent.
There are plausible ways a vocalist can breathe poorly, including not utilizing their diaphragm, running out of breath, poor posture, and having no idea which cadence to exhale or inhale.
This insufficiency may lead to unnecessary tension in the voice and untapped potential.
When Singing How Do You Breathe?
Since controlled breathing is not a natural thing inside your body, you have to train your body to properly breathe when singing. Keep reading to walk through the breathing basics of how to properly breathe when singing.
Stage 1: Inhalation
Inhalation in natural breathing is slower than in singing, allowing the singer to inhale more air and force it deeper into their lungs.
Air should go into our bodies noiselessly and effortlessly. You can encourage this process by lifting your soft palate and relaxing the muscles of your throat. Interestingly, that’s precisely how we do when we yawn.
To make the inhalation stage happen smoothly, you have to ensure three postural conditions exist before inhaling: your chest is comfortably high, your lower abdomen comfortably in, and your upper abdomen is free to move.
If you lack one of these three foundations, problems arise.
On the other hand, as long as your posture is proper, you will feel the air enter your body, and the middle part expands when breathing in. It’s like the breath causes the expansion as opposed to the viscera’s displacement.
Your sides and back will also expand, but the most significant expansion happens in the front of the body.
You can check if you’re doing correctly by placing your hands on the sides and your index fingers below the last ribs.
Stage 2: Suspension
Let’s head to the second stage of breathing for singing: suspension. This phase shares no common with natural breathing, where the breathing-in and breathing-out progress link seamlessly to each other.
The suspension enables creating the equilibrium between breathing in and out and prepping the supportive breathing mechanism for the phonation following.
Just to help you have a clearer idea of how suspension feels like, do as we tell. Breathe in. Once your lungs are full, contract the diaphragm as if you’re still breathing in even when you’ve stopped doing so.
This way, you can generally facilitate smooth control over the sound’s attack without the vocal mechanism carrying out too many adjustments.
Stage 3: Controlled exhalation
Here we come to the third phase: controlled exhalation – the stage that coordinates with the vocal cords to produce phonation.
This progress should happen slowly when the diaphragm releases its tension and turns back to the previous position.
It’s advisable to maintain the expansion around the body’s middle part when breathing out. This way, you can achieve great control over the exhalation.
Stage 4: Recovery
The last stage is recovery. During the recovery stage, all the muscles involved in breathing relax. Don’t underestimate this critical phase, as the muscles will be more efficient if you allow them to rest and recover.
Exercises To Improve Your Breathing
There are loads of breathing exercises for singers to practice controlling their breath, as varied as the vocalists themselves.
We’ve detailed some of the most common methods professional singers use to enhance breathing, and we’ve tried to present most of them in the purest form.
You can personalize or customize the recommended techniques as per your singing level and preferences.
#1. Practice Proper Posture
Concerning improving the sound of a vocalist’s voice and stepping up the efficiency of their breathing as well, proper posture is one of the most decisive factors.
Appropriate posture also provides the most plentiful room possible in the chest cavity so that the lungs can expand to the fullest potential. This extra space allows the singer to hold notes for longer.
The way you stand when singing impacts what sort of breathing is possible. For example, taking a deep breath might be a tough task if you stand hunched over.
Besides, optimal posture will keep the chest high during singing, allowing more comfortable breaths from the diaphragm.
Showing excellent posture does wonders for the end of phrasing, too.
Improved posture can release tension and foster airflow through the vocal cords, enabling you to execute phrasing even when you feel like your chest can’t handle more and is about to collapse.
So, the tip is to let the chest remain high, the rib cage expands, and breathe slowly.
In particular, here’s how it looks like when you have good posture:
- You need to stand straight and relax your body.
- Keep a shoulder-width distance between two feet and the weight tilted slightly forward.
- Keep your shoulders in the back and push them down. Do not raise your shoulders.
- Maintain flexible joints. For example, make sure you bend your knees and roll your head comfortably.
- Keep your chin parallel to the ground.
- Keep your chest in an elevated position.
#2. Breathe From Your Diaphragm
When singing coaches talk about supporting the voice, they are generally mentioning breathing from the diaphragm.
When a singer sings from their diaphragm, they flatten it. The diaphragm lets the singer breathe deeply and gain tighter control over the air release across the vocal cords.
As you flatten the diaphragm, you’re allowing the lungs to maintain function. This additional air then supports the singing voice.
For this exercise, you’re aiming to work the entire body, including the abdomen, muscles between the ribs, and back.
A way to encourage control of the diaphragm is to enhance breathing control techniques. Many available online breath exercises help develop a constant flow of air with force and power. Yet, you can consider our simple exercise below:
- Stand with good posture (follow our instructions in the above section). Place a hand on your stomach and fingers comfortably over your belly button.
- Inhale deeply. Concentrate on the sensation of air entering your belly.
- Then, slowly exhale the air through your nose and mouth.
Should you breathe through your nose or mouth when singing? Please remember, you should inhale through both your mouth and nose at the same time when singing.
If you only breathe through your nose, it might be difficult to intake enough air. Meanwhile, if you only inhale through your mouth, your vocal cords might suffer from tension and dry out.
#3. Warm Up Your Vocal Cords
Doing vocal cord warm-ups accelerates the elasticity of the muscles while getting rid of excess mucus and lowering the chance of injury. Note that the larynx is a sensitive muscle, so treat it well.
Proper vocal warm-ups are a regular part of a singing routine, which, in part, keeps the voice in shape. Consistently repeating the exercise will help you achieve strong breathing muscles and sing more efficiently in the long term, particularly for a complex chain of high notes.
More importantly, the warm-ups can be as easy and short as you like without affecting the exercise’s result.
The two most common warm-ups are scales and trills. These pieces of content help the vocalist concentrate more on specific goals, like tone quality, breathing technique, and more.
#4. Use The Hissing Exercise
Hissing exercise is ideal for slowing down your breathing, lowering your voice when a song demands it.
The goal is to emphasize more focus on supporting the singer’s breath without distracting a sound. The exercise also teaches you to release the air steadily.
No matter what you’re doing – standing, sitting, or lying down – the key is to relax when you do it so that you can perform a hissing exercise any time.
For this one, you also condition the diaphragm like the above exercises. Place your hand on the stomach so that you can measure the intake and release of air.
Slowly inhale through your mouth and nose and fill your lungs, so you can feel the diaphragm flattening. When breathing out, grit your teeth together and use your tongue to adjust the air release.
‘When singing how do you breathe?’ is a common question among beginner singers.
Breathing belongs to our instincts. However, breathing for singing is a brand-new ball game, and we can say that effortless, flawless breathing technique is the foundation of effortless, beautiful singing.
Training breathing is one of the easiest ways to improve your vocals. Spend only a few minutes a day on breathing exercises and practicing scales, and there you achieve a desirable, healthy voice.