Breath out... keep going... what now?
Updated: Feb 2
I had a vocal coach who told me breathing is everything. It was near enough his catch phrase. He's absolutely right! Fundamentally, it's pretty solid advice for life right? Good solid breathing technique can help you in all sorts of situations in terms of being able to maintain composure and stay relaxed. So a firm foundation in diaphragmatic breathing would be ideal for anyone thinking of walking on to a stage one day... or even into a job interview?
(Take a listen to the podcast episode all about breathing here.)
This is something that we really look into deeply in my performance coaching sessions preparing people for auditions and/or helping them deal with performance anxiety and stage fright.
The benefits of breath control are endless and deserve a blog post all to themselves but today we're here to talk technique. What's interesting is that whilst we've just talked about how beneficial good breathing can be for relaxation I've found it can be a major source of stress for a lot of singers I work with at my studio.
The reasons for this are varied. Primarily I get a lot of students that have either never worked with a vocal coach so never focused on breathing before. Or it could be that they've worked with vocal coaches that frankly have given them some pretty poor advice in the past.
The fact is that deep breathing is a reflex. Try this for me. Breath out... keep going... what happens now? Naturally when we're in a state where we need to take in as much breath as possible our bodies do their best to fill our lungs. The brain sends a message that oxygen is required, the diaphragm contracts, enlarges and expands creating space in the chest. Essentially this extra space has to be filled so air is drawn in. Thats as complicated as it gets.
As singers we can make the process of drawing in that breath and the amount of breath we can take in more efficient. So something for all singers to work on is building strength into the muscles that can keep the rib cage expanded. So next time you sing through a song or your exercising your voice, take a nice deep breath in. Then make a conscious effort to retain the shape of your upper body whilst you sing through a phrase, next time you take an in breath filling the already expanded space will be more efficient and allow for quicker and potentially more air flow. Over time as your strength and stamina builds you'll see that your lung capacity will grow and the length of phrase you can get through will improve.
If you'd like to take a closer look into anything I've talked about in this blog I would be more than happy to go through it with you!
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