breathing

Quite a handful of factors can determine how well singing and the singer’s voice becomes. My focus will be about the Diaphragmatic Breathing. A singer’s ability to mastering diaphragmatic breathing technique will greatly affect his overall vocal health and quality of singing. I will be giving a useful breathing exercise at the end. Stay tuned.

A lot of time I hear singers, music instructors and music directors tell their singers to “sing from your belly” or “sing from the inside”. This is good, but these instructors fails to enlighten the singers about where exactly they are referring to by saying “inside”. Remember, the belly, which I believe is this “inside” they are talking about, is made up of several organs, so where exactly should the singing come from then? Well, I want to put that misconception straight. Please read on.

WHAT IS DIAPHRAGMATIC BREATHING?

So what is Diaphragmatic breathing? Diaphragmatic breathing simply means breathing that is made from the diaphragm (the rib cage or breathing muscle). So then, what or how does the diaphragm look like?
The diaphragm is a dome-shape muscular partition located under the lungs and it is attached to the rib cage and back bone.

image Credit: Encylopaedia Britannica

When you use your diaphragm, the dome shape drops down enlarging the chest cavity. In an effort to fill up the chest cavity, your lungs expands as you inhale to fill up the enlarged chest cavity. In other words, as your diaphragm goes downwards into its lower position, it causes the air you are inhaling into your lungs to fill up the lungs right to the bottom. As you exhale the air in singing, the diaphragm raises back up into its normal dome shape ready to take in another air should you need one.

Now as the diaphragm raise back up to its normal position, it forces or pushes the breath out of the lungs. That is, as the diaphragm pushes downwards, it causes breath to be suck into the lungs, and as it pushes up again, it causes the air to be forced out of the lungs.

Note that, breathing from your diaphragm helps improve your tone quality and helps you become a better singer.

Now the physical experiences you will feel or have when you use your diaphragm is, instead of feeling that the air has gone into the lungs (which is where it should go, it can’t go anywhere else). You will have a physical sensation that breath has gone down under your lungs into your upper abdomen, because you will feel an expansion of the body in the area of the upper abdomen.

That is, when you breathe in, your abdomen pops out upward. The reason this happens is because when you breathe in, your diaphragm goes from its dome position downwards. It flattens out like a plate or disc pushing out the organs of the lower half of the body giving you the impression that the breath has gone down into your lower abdomen. It hasn’t. Remember, it has gone into your lungs.

STEPS TO MASTERING DIAPHRAGMATIC BREATHING

Now try this diaphragmatic breathing exercise;

1. Sit on a chair with your feet flat on the floor.

2. Inhale deeply and slowly through your nose using your diaphragm.

3. Your shoulder and chest should not raise up.

4. Fell your back and stomach expand.

5. Make sure your body is free from tension and relaxed head.

6. Exhale slowly through your mouth.

7. Repeat this exercise as many times as possible.

Remember, singers are vocal athletes, and must learn to be expert breather. Mastering diaphragmatic breathing technique is an important hurdle you must scale. Stay tuned for more.

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