Breathing is an essential part of being able to sing correctly. You may be thinking, “How hard can it be? I do it everyday of my life!” Well, the truth is our breathing habits over the course of our lives sometimes get very out of whack and we develop bad habits that can hinder us from being able to sing freely.
When we are born we have perfectly operating lungs and breath function. That is why a babies’ big tummy will move up and down as they breathe. You can usually hear one tiny baby scream and cry over a large room of people (think church or graduation ceremony). They have amazing projection and volume! As we grow older we are told in school to whisper and to keep our voice down. We also shamefully suck in our belly to achieve that much desired flat stomach. Pair these habits with anxiety and stress and you have a type of breathing that will originate in your upper chest and shoulders. Your breathing will be very shallow. The initial step in learning how to form correct breathing habits is to recognize the incorrect patterns and try to understand and feel how our body is naturally supposed to function. There is so much more space to utilize in our body for air then just our chest!
Here are a few experiments to try…go ahead and inhale. Take a really big breath! Do this in front of a mirror. What do you see? Did you shrug your shoulders? Did your chest puff up? If so, your breath is originating in your chest cavity. Now go lay down on your back on the floor. Put your hand on your stomach and just relax and breathe. What do you feel? Do you feel your stomach moving up and down? Do you feel yours sides expanding? When we are in this position we have proper breathing technique. Did you feel how relaxed your shoulders and chest felt?
Our breathing muscle is called the ‘diaphragm’. It is located in the area right underneath your lower ribcage. Try to remember this…when you INHALE your stomach region should go OUT and expand. When you EXHALE your stomach area should be pulled IN. It is the opposite of what we usually do! This is the natural breathing process so just relax and breathe! Start paying attention to how your breathe when you sing, exercise, and go about your day because these basics on proper breathing aren’t just for singing but how you should operate daily. Becoming aware of how your body functions, is the first step to altering and forming new habits!
Stay tuned for an upcoming blog that will give you breathing exercises that will help your body develop techniques that will set your voice free!