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HI, I'M JORGELINA
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Today I want to share with you some breathing exercises for singers that I find pretty useful and relatively easy to perform without direct instruction from a teacher, and without messing up!
Breathing is one of the most controversial topics in singing. Some teachers would argue that practicing breathing is not necessary at all, and some other teachers won’t let you sing anything before properly working on your breathing.
You might wonder why is it necessary to practice breathing exercises for singers – isn’t breathing something we do automatically?
And yes! We do. Luckily we don’t have to think about it. However, there is not only one way to breathe in. And the thing is, some of them will be functional for singing and some of them won’t.
One of the most common issues for beginner singers is that they breathe in a way that is functional for some activities or aspects of their life but not so much for singing. What do I mean by that? Your breathing is the bridge between your mind and your body. It prepares your body to perform certain movements and activities.
For example, if you need to lift something heavy, you will automatically adjust your breathing to be higher up in the lungs because you have to activate your abdominal muscles quite a bit in order to perform that activity. When you are using this breathing type, your belly comes in, your chest goes up, and generally, it is a bit noisy. You are tensing up a lot of muscles when you do that, and that is great if you need to lift something heavy. However, if you use that breathing type for singing it won’t work as well because a lot of muscles you don’t need are going to interfere with the free flow of your voice.
A breathing type that works like that sets up the vocal instrument in a closed position. If you use that setup for singing you are going to hurt yourself – that’s why beginner singers strain so much!
So as you can see, it is not as simple as “just breathe”. The way you breathe can mean the difference between training your voice or destroying it slowly but steadily.
So let’s practice some breathing exercises to set up your vocal instrument in a functional way for singing!
The following exercises are generally safe to practice, however, if you start feeling dizzy stop and take a breath. Don’t overdo it. If you are used to breathing shallow and you start breathing deeper you might feel a bit dizzy and it might be too much. Start small and you will increase air capacity from your own starting point.
Also, remember that these are exercises. That means that they won’t “fix” your breathing in one day. You have to practice them regularly and make sure you incorporate them into your song practice as well.
I wrote a blog about belly breathing some time ago, you can find it here. But today I am adding a video to make it more clear to you because belly breathing is often misunderstood and misinterpreted.
Most people are familiar with the idea that “for singing, you have to breathe with the diaphragm”. Well, the thing is, you are always breathing with your diaphragm anyway! It is your primary breathing muscle. But there are different ways you can do it.
What we refer to as diaphragmatic breathing is breathing in which your abdominal muscles are not super tense and so your diaphragm can contract with more space. This comes as a more relaxed and deeper way of breathing.
This is not as easy to perform for a lot of people. When we are used to being stressed or anxious, we start developing breathing patterns different from that and so belly breathing even though it should be available to all of us, becomes something to be trained.
Finding your “Belly Breathing”
This exercise is great to build air capacity!
This exercise is simple yet difficult for so many people. Inhale in about three seconds, and at the same time try to relax your jaw. If you don’t have a ton of body awareness of your jaw this will be a bit hard to tell. If this is you, think about the very beginning of the yawning. Don’t let the yawn develop, just think about the very beginning of it and inhale through your mouth. Everything going well, you will probably feel that the back of your throat opens. For this exercise, make sure that you keep your chest relaxed.
At Auckland Contemporary Singing School we teach singing from a holistic an integral approach 😊
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