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These 4 diaphragmatic breathing exercises and posture stance for the Beginner and intermediate Singer will help to improve overall singing performance… It should be noted that these breathing exercises should be used before your vocal warm up exercises.
The magic of breathing perfectly comes naturally to babies and toddlers. However, for the beginner singer, it can seem like an uphill struggle to recapture the ease once enjoyed using the diaphragm to its full extent.
Diaphragmatic breathing in infants is natural to them, they have not yet learned all the bad habits, bad body posture or experienced any emotional stress in their lives like the average adult.
With all the unnecessary bad posture and tension in the body, over time, constricts the diaphragm and makes it difficult for it to move in its full up/down motion.
If you practice daily, the simple breathing exercises in this article will help you overcome any breathing difficulties you are experiencing.
Dennis Lewis says, When the diaphragm is unable to move freely and easily through its entire potential range of vertical motion, both our inhalation and our exhalation suffer and so will the voice.
However, if you learn how to use the diaphragm to its full extent again and get back to the good old childhood days of breathing naturally with good posture.
You will not only feel much better health wise by taking in more oxygen, you will also be well on your way to fabulous and effortless vocal gains.
It’s imperative to learn good posture for effective breathing using your diaphragm when singing. Good posture creates an unobstructed pathway for the air to rush into your lungs.
Mastering your posture to make the best use of your diaphragm is going to feel awkward at first. You have built up a lifetime of bad habits, slumping when standing, walking and when sitting. Like all bad habits, they take time and effort to undo.
You have become so used to standing, sitting and holding yourself in your own particular way, you need to effectively retrain your body and your thought process to be aware of your posture and breathing at all times.
Eventually, with practice, good posture and diaphragmatic breathing will become second nature, all the bad posture learned over your lifetime can be replaced in your subconscious memory with good posture you won’t even need to think about.
This is more than an exercise, it’s something we all should be aware of at all times throughout the day. Just keep your thought process alive at all times.
1. Stand up straight with your hands relaxed at the sides.
2. Your Feet should be shoulder-width apart, one foot slightly in front of the other, so the weight of your body is slightly forward.
3. Your knees should be flexible loose and never locked.
4. At this point of the exercise, you can roll your head around to relieve any tension you have in your neck.
5. Hold your head level with your chin parallel to the floor.
6. Hold your shoulders back and down, so your shoulder blades are towards the center of your back never raise your shoulders.
7. Your chest should now be held in a high position, but not in a forced tense position.
What To Look Out For “Good Posture Exercise”
If you feel your chest is feeling strained move your shoulders very slightly forward until you are comfortable. Your chest is now open, for the intake of air.
Important, slumping or moving your shoulders too far forward will partly collapse your upper rib cage and keep the ribs from fully expanding to accommodate the lungs as they expand with your air intake and your diaphragm will not move freely.
You may also feel a little discomfort learning diaphragmatic breathing, don’t worry too much about any discomfort. You are now putting your body into a posture position that feels alien to you.
You can also do the above exercise sitting down, concentrate on your upper torso part of the exercise.
(A Quick Wakeup Call)
How are you sitting – standing right now?
Keep your posture thought process going. Stand or sit straight not slumped over, shoulders back and down not raised, chest held high.
These first two inhale exercises are also a thought process and combine well with proper posture. The way you carry yourself, walk, sit and stand will have big benefits not only on how effective you take in oxygen. It will also have a big effect on your singing and your natural talking voice also. And the third benefit will be on your overall health.
It’s important to remember, that good breath inhalation and exhalation should be done in a relaxed situation, no sucking air in or pushing air out trying to reach any high notes.
These exercises should be done in the standing posture mode. Over time, especially if you do a lot of singing sitting down, playing your guitar you can do two sets of each exercise. alternate between sitting and standing.
1. Place your hand on your stomach, Take your middle finger and place it over your belly button. keeping your new posture position.
2. Clear your head and concentrate on inflating your belly only. As you inhale and fill your lungs, you will feel your belly move outwards.
3. Slowly blow the air out gently through your mouth.
4. Do this, 10 or 15 times over a few minutes. It’s important to remember not to lift your shoulders or puff out your chest or (important) subconsciously tense or pull in your belly.
What To Look Out For “Exercise 1”
If you are doing the exercise right, you should feel your belly moving outwards, not upwards. Get the mental picture in your head, belly moves out diaphragm drops down and lungs fill with air.
If you are lifting your shoulders or raising your chest (puffing out chest) and pulling in your stomach you are using (assisted or accessory) breathing.
This breathing bad habit of pulling in your stomach, raising your shoulders keeps your diaphragm from dropping and will not allow your lungs to fill with air completely.
Keep concentration when doing this exercise, if you have a full mirror stand or sit in front of it. A good sign of subconsciously pulling in your stomach is if you see or feel your shoulders rising on every breath inhaled.
This exercise is one of the best breathing techniques and will help you to take in air quietly and quickly without the breathy sounds of sucking in or gasping air when singing. You will also feel your body opening up as you take the air in.
1. You’ll need a straw for this exercise, Cut the straw down to 3 or 4 inches and place it in your mouth.
2. Take your breaths through the straw, making sure not to suck the air in. Feel how your body opens up as the air drops into your lungs. Remember not to raise your shoulders, puff out your chest or pull in your stomach.
3. Inhale for 3 slow counts and exhale for 3 slow counts. Repeat 5 times.
4. Inhale for 4 slow counts and exhale for 4 slow counts. Again repeat 5 times.
What To Look Out For “Exercise 1”
When you are singing you want the air to drop into your body, sucking in your air can be a noisy business.
There are breathy singers who incorporate the breathy sound into their style/unique sound, but still, understand the correct breathing technique to take in breath quickly and silently.
The above exercise will teach you to naturally take in the air without gasping. As you do the exercise you will notice how your body is moving. You want your ribs to open, sides and back to expand and your abs to release tension and drop.
The next two exercises will help you to learn how to extend your breaths when exhaling.
Air flow through your vocal cords must be consistent, power, range depends on it.
Most singers have the belief, especially beginners that they need to push the air out to reach higher notes. Doing so will cause tension in the muscles to build up. Not allowing the air to be released in a relaxed extended way when leaving the singer’s body can result in your voice breaking cracking mid note.
1. Place your hand on your stomach and take your breath in.
2. Close your teeth keep your tongue against your bottom teeth.
3. Release the smallest amount of air you can through your closed teeth.
4. Make a tse sound when releasing your air.
5. Keep practicing until you can make your breath last for 30 seconds or more.
Repeat the above exercise 5 times, the greater the time you can make your relaxed exhalation extend over time the better.
Singing a time old happy birthday song everyone knows will help nail your breathing.
1. Get yourself into the proper posture, place your hand on your belly and concentrate. Take your first breath. Your belly should expand and abs drop downwards. In a relaxed outward motion. Resist tightening your abs or raising shoulders as you breathe in.
2. Sing the first and second verse of the song. Hold and extend the “YOU” each time before taking in your breath.
Don’t gasp or suck your air in. Let your belly fall back into a relaxed position. You will feel the air rush into your lungs through your open month.
3. Repeat above completing the song fully, remembering when you get to the end of your exhale, your belly will be in its inward position. Don’t gasp or suck in your next breath, let your belly fall back to the relaxed position and you will feel the air rush into your lungs.
I hope you enjoy these simple breathing exercises and they help you out some.
However, to become good at singing and perform well, proper breathing techniques must be mastered.
Learning diaphragmatic breathing exercises and techniques are the most popular learned by singers who control their breath intake and relaxed extended breath exhalation.
There are many more breathing techniques beginner singers should learn that I have not covered in this article from other disciplines that can help with your singing breathing exercises. I will cover more about those in future articles.
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The Holistic Voice – Breathing for Improved Performance.
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