Have you ever thought that “you have a problem with your breathing”? Obviously, you are breathing since you are still conscious and not gasping for air on the floor. So what do you think “problem with breathing” means? 


Perhaps you run out of air at the ends of your phrases, or perhaps you have adequate air but your ends sound like they have “no juice.” 


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Maybe your problem doesn’t occur while you’re singing, but rather when take a breath and feel your shoulders lift, your voice-box raise and your neck tighten…all before you’ve emitted your first note.


So your first task is to clarify for yourself: what’s your problem?


And then ask yourself: does the problem manifest when air is coming in or when air is going out?


Let’s start with air coming in. 


That’s what I call breathing…and you do this when you are NOT singing.  Since you, as a singer, are a breath-machine, you’ll need to take a breath to have enough air for the upcoming phrase.  It’s also desirable to take air in in such a way that your chest and shoulders do not lift, your voice-box does not rise and the act of breathing in doesn’t create an unintended gasping sound. 


To breathe for singing, I recommend the following course of action:


1)  Stand tall with a comfortably lifted chest

2)  Exhale through your mouth

3)  Open your mouth a bit

4)  Open your vocal folds (think ‘wide’ throat)

5)  Relax your lower belly

6)  Feel air suck into your lungs effortlessly

7)  Fill up only AFTER you’ve relaxed your lower belly first

8)  Don’t raise your chest – keep it lifted at all times


Your goal is to breathe quickly, quietly, invisibly and effortlessly.  (You can always make breath sounds as expressive choices later!) Begin by mastering breathing in consciously and silently before you start making breath sounds.


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In my next article, I’ll focus on the fine art of ‘blowing’.  That’s the skill of controlling your outgoing air when singing.  For now, work on the foundational skill of breathing in: quickly, quietly, invisibly and effortlessly.



Lisa Popeil, MFA in Voice, is creator of the Total Singer DVD, co-author of ‘Sing Anything-Mastering Vocal Styles’ (singanything.com) and teaches privately in LA or via Skype. www.popeil.com


sing anything

Originally posted 2013-03-19 17:57:19.