Proper breathing is the most important part of singing well and keeping your vocal cords safe. If you don’t have enough breath support when you sing, it can lead to permanent damage to your voice. So it’s crucial to learn how to breathe properly for singing.
Along with learning to sing, it’s important to develop healthy breathing habits to support your vocal cords.
Link Between Your Voice and Breathe
The breath and the voice have a strong connection. When you speak, you can hear your breath. Breathing powers the voice, and they work together in a beautiful and complex dance.
If one of them changes the rules or doesn’t cooperate, the whole performance can be affected. But when they work well together, it creates a healthy acoustic environment, enhances harmonics, and makes it easier to adjust the voice.
Factors that Cause Dysfunctional Breathing
When you are unable to consciously control your breath, you experience dysfunctional breathing. There are numerous ways to unintentionally breathe incorrectly, however the following three outcomes are the most common ones:
- Sluggish breathing
- Keeping one’s breath
The diaphragm is not used by vocalists for a variety of reasons, including:
Smoking – Smoking has a number of negative effects, including emphysema, chronic bronchitis, and enlarged bronchial tubes. Both effects reduce the amount of air your lungs can expend and make utilising your diaphragm to breathe practically difficult.
Sitting too much – The body will eventually lose the ability to breathe from the abdomen region if you spend a lot of time sitting down. This can make breathing from the diaphragm uncomfortable.
Lack of usage – The diaphragm might weaken without frequent use and appropriate exercise. Illness may also have an impact on performance.
12 Breathing Exercises for Singing
Changing unhealthy breathing habits requires time and effort. It’s important to focus on each performance and understand how your breath supports your vocal control. Here are 12 recommended breathing exercises to help you improve.
Be sure to:
- Reduce your upper body’s stress.
- Let the shoulders stay in a relaxed state.
- Breathe in via the nose and out through the mouth.
- Take a few deep breaths.
- Utilize your lungs to the fullest extent possible.
Release Tense Diaphragm Muscle
Many people, including singers, often struggle with consistently using their diaphragm for breathing. To address this, it’s important to relax and exercise the diaphragm muscles.
Here’s an exercise to focus on the muscles around your diaphragm:
- Get on your hands and knees, allowing your body to relax.
- Instead of pushing your abdomen outwards, let it hang freely.
- Gravity will naturally keep your shoulders and abdomen in position.
- Tighten your abdominal muscles and pull your tummy in towards your body as you exhale.
By practicing this exercise, you can train your diaphragm and improve your breathing technique.
Hissing Sounds with Bouncy Waves for a More Flexible Diaphragm
When singing faster or more complex parts of a song, breathing can become difficult. But you can improve your vocal performance without straining by practicing the bouncy hiss technique. This technique is great for adding trailing crescendos and changing pitches.
Here’s how to do it:
- Begin with good singing posture, whether you’re standing or sitting. Alternatively, you can try lying flat for this exercise.
- Make “sss” sounds with high and low pitches, similar to the hissing approach mentioned earlier. But this time, add occasional bumps or jumps to the sound instead of keeping it consistent.
- To create the sound, gently grip your throat and restrict the air from rising. As you exhale, increase the speed and intensity of your bounces.
By practicing this exercise, you can improve your breath control and master challenging vocal passages with ease.
Yoga breathing is a technique that focuses on using your diaphragm, and it’s one of the first things you learn in yoga. This exercise can also be helpful for singing. You can do it while standing or sitting on the ground, and it’s best to close your eyes to fully concentrate on your breath.
Here’s how to do it:
- Take a slow and steady breath through your nose. Fill your lungs about 25% full, and hold your breath for 6 to 12 seconds.
- Continue to inhale slowly and fill your lungs to about 50% capacity. Hold this position for another 6 to 12 seconds.
- Take a second slow inhalation to fill your lungs about 75% full, and hold that breath.
- Complete the inhalation to fully fill your lungs, and hold it for a few seconds. Then, exhale gently through your mouth.
- Open your eyes and take a few regular breaths before repeating the process.
By practicing this yoga breathing exercise, you can improve your breath control and enhance your singing ability.
Breathing Exercises for Inhalation
The purpose of this simple breathing exercise is to quickly and fully inhale, aiming to match your voice with an instrument. It helps you focus on taking in enough oxygen. Here’s how to do it:
- Stay relaxed and take a gentle breath. Feel your belly button area sinking down as you inhale. Imagine that you are taking in heavy air that falls rapidly into your body.
- Fill your lungs quickly, as if you were practicing yoga. It’s normal to feel like yawning after this exercise, but you can try to hold back the yawns. Just focus on breathing in more quickly.
By practicing this exercise, you can improve your ability to match your voice with an instrument and become more aware of your breathing.
Breathing Exercises for Exhalation
To exhale properly while singing, it’s important to be smooth and steady. This technique can help you with hitting high notes and singing slow parts of a song. Here’s how you can practice using a feather:
- Begin by blowing a feather upwards in the room. This will be the starting point of the exercise.
- The goal is to keep the feather in the air for as long as possible using a steady and gentle stream of air. You want the air to be strong enough to keep the feather floating, but not too forceful.
- Pay attention to your diaphragm and abdominal muscles while practicing. Notice which areas of your body move during the exercise.
- As you exhale, keep your chest in its natural position and allow your abdomen to return to its normal state. Take a deep and regular breath before repeating the exercise.
By practicing this exercise with the feather, you can improve your control over your exhalation while singing. It helps you develop a steady airflow and maintain control over your breath.
Yawning exercises may not sound exciting, but they can actually be quite beneficial. They can help you improve your breathing technique, enhance your singing voice, and relax your vocal muscles all at once.
Using yawns in your breathing exercises can strengthen your throat and diaphragm, making your breathing more effective.
Here’s how you can do the exercise:
- Stand tall with a relaxed posture, allowing for proper airflow. Take slow and steady breaths, focusing on the entire breathing motion. Feel your ribs and abs expanding as you breathe in.
- Incorporate yawns into the exercise. As you yawn, engage the muscles in your face and mouth. Be mindful not to move your head, neck, or shoulders too much, and keep your chin level. You can use a mirror to check your posture.
- If you prefer, you can also lie flat on the ground for this exercise. Place a book on your abdomen and observe how your breath affects the movement of the book. Remember not to force any movement.
By practicing these exercises, you can strengthen your throat and diaphragm, improve your breathing technique, and enhance your singing voice. It’s a simple and effective way to work on your breath control and relax your vocal muscles.
The straw exercise, also known as the straw technique or straw phonation, involves humming through a straw. It’s a helpful breathing exercise that helps you focus on your breath while keeping your body still and feeling the air passing through the straw.
Here’s how you can do the exercise:
- Begin with the same basic setup as the exhale and hiss exercise, but instead of hissing, hum the melody or tune you’re practicing.
- Professional singers often start from the lowest note in their range and gradually work their way up to higher notes before attempting to hum the entire song using this technique.
- If you start feeling dizzy, you can breathe either outside of the straw or through the straw itself to take in some air.
The straw exercise is a great way to improve your breathing and focus on your breath control while humming. It can help you develop better breath support for singing and enhance your overall vocal technique.
Vocal Strength and Proper Singing Position
Maintaining the correct posture is important for improving your vocal endurance. Good posture helps you control your upper body and prevents you from breathing too quickly.
Here’s how you can practice proper posture:
- Stand up straight and make sure your arms are extended out to the sides.
- Slowly inhale and exhale while keeping your arms parallel to your shoulders.
- Pay attention to how your chest and arms remain still as you breathe in and out.
To make the exercise more challenging, you can hold two lightweight objects, like chairs, while keeping your arms raised. Remember to keep your back straight and maintain proper posture throughout the exercise. It’s also important to practice consistent and proper inhalation and exhalation techniques.
By practicing good posture and breathing control, you can improve your voice endurance and enhance your overall vocal performance.
Maintain a Taut Midsection
Always keep your abdomen tight and firm. Relax your throat to allow air to flow smoothly through your neck. When reaching high notes, focus on using more air instead of straining your neck muscles. Use your abdomen to release the air from your body.
Slow Breathing Exercises for Deeper Breathing
Compared to shallow and quick breaths from the chest, diaphragmatic breathing is slower and more effective. Chest breathing requires more effort, can harm your voice faster, and leads to quicker exhaustion of oxygen.
By breathing deeply and slowly, you engage the right muscles and produce the correct vocal sounds.
Stand with your legs slightly apart. Cover your right nostril with your finger and inhale and exhale through the open nostril.
Take deep and slow breaths for a few moments before switching to the other side. Inhale deeply and slowly to create a low sound.
Take out Excessive Tension With a Sigh
This simple breathing technique can be helpful for anyone dealing with tension. All you have to do is take a slow and deep breath out while saying “a sigh of relief.”
Notice if any part of your body feels more relaxed or loosened up when you sigh. Many people feel relief in their ribs, belly, or shoulders.
If it’s safe for you, try sighing again in the area where you felt the relaxation and ask your body if it can spread further, become wider, or move to another part of your body.
We really love box breathing. It’s considered the best breathing exercise. The main concept is to exhale slower than you inhale, but it has a specific pattern. There are different ways to do the “box,” but today we’ll focus on the traditional method.
Breathing exercises are important for your singing skills, but it’s equally important to protect your voice on the day of a performance by avoiding talking. In fact, professional Broadway singers sign contracts agreeing to stay silent throughout the entire show.
To succeed as a professional singer, make sure to use proper breathing techniques, focus on the lyrics, avoid talking, and let your singing voice shine.