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Do you really need to breathe with your belly to sing? The answer might actually surprise you. This is a controversial topic amongst singing teachers and responsible singers who care about their technique… there are a lot of scientific research about the topic and that is what I am talking about today!
Hello everyone, today I am answering a very common question that I get asked a lot: do I have to breathe with my belly for singing?
My name is Jorgelina. I am a vocal coach and a singer from Auckland, New Zealand, and I teach singing here in Auckland and online as well. I specialize in teaching how to sing contemporary singing from a holistic, integral, and super-healthy approach. In this video, I’m going to tell you:
1- Why do we believe that we should sing from our belly or breathe from our belly?
2-What happens when you sing from your belly?
3-And how to breathe from your belly in a way that actually helps you.
Why do we believe that we have to breathe from our belly? This is a common misconception and it kind of comes from well-intentioned comments. When we start singing, people tend to breathe in from the accessory muscles a little bit too much like this (demonstrates). And that is bad for singing It makes you tense everything around your larynx and sing in a nonfunctional and inefficient way.
So we want to avoid that.
Breathing with our belly is an alternative to that high breathing that we don’t want to use for singing Maybe for other activities. Yes, but not for singing.
The problem with this belly breathing idea is that sometimes always the best intention, but it’s done in a way that it’s not helpful. And this is what happens a lot of times, many people develop a way of breathing from the belly that makes them arch their back like this (demonstrates) and push the belly away. Like this (demonstrates).
It’s not helpful. So when this happens first, you’re locking the spine, which is super, it’s super important to have a free spine for singing. I talked about this in another video and I’m going to link them for you to watch. But for now, know that locking the spine is not a good idea for singing ever.
It blocks your breathing. It’s not a good idea. The other problem with this kind of breathing is that a lot of people, do it in a way that you’re, as I said, kind of pushing the belly out. And I talked about this in other videos as well, that when you push things away from your body, you are using this area of your body in a high-pressure mode.
When you’re using the throat area in high-pressure mode you are singing from a not-very differentiated system, and it’s definitely not the most efficient way to sing, and it actually can harm your voice.
As I said, these comments are well-intentioned, and there are ways to breathe from your belly that can help. Now, first of all, let’s just talk about the fact that you don’t breathe with your belly! That needs to be clear. Your lungs are here (demonstrates), your digestive organs are here (demonstrates), you don’t breathe here. It doesn’t happen, but what happens is you move things on to create space for the lungs to expand. Your main muscle is the diaphragm and it’s underneath the ribs, so it’s actually much higher than we think it is. A more healthy way of thinking about breathing from the belly is breathing in a way in which the abs, especially the rectus abdominis are not holding. So when you breathe in for singing, you don’t want to over-contract these abs. You don’t want to be like this (demonstrates), not good for singing, but equally, you don’t want to stretch them too much like this (demonstrates). Either way is bad. So you want to breathe in a way in which the abs are toned, available but out of the way. So a healthier way to think about it is if actually if you put your hands in the lower back that is a part of your body that you want to be expanding.
As a result, the rest of your belly area is going to move. It’s not going to be locked but it’s more about the low back and the ribs that we are thinking. So I’m just going to do that now to show you. So my ribs are expanding this sideways. And my lower back is expanding (demonstrates). And there is some expansion here as well, but it’s not dramatic and I am not locking the spine. I have to have my spine quite long to be able to do that. That kind of breathing it’s deep breathing and it’s toned. But it is also a breathing type that allows your larynx to descend naturally without force.
So it promotes healthy and differentiated singing, which is what we want to do when we sing from a holistic and integral approach.
If you’re interested in singing in a healthy way that promotes choice and agency in your singing, subscribe to this channel because I post content like this pretty much every day.
Now as I said, I do have a resource for you today. If you go to the description below, you are going to find access to my 20-minute introductory to singing, free lesson. So this is a 20-minute lesson that works on exploring breathing quite a bit. So it will help you to make a connection between the way you breathe and the way you sound and therefore give you control over the way you sound. Go ahead and download it. It’s free!
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