A guide detailing the proper way to breathe for singing. Often described incorrectly; I hope this guide will help a new generation of young vocalists.
So if we are breathing into our lungs, why does our stomach push out? The reason for this is the diaphragm. The diaphragm is a muscle below the lungs. When we breathe air into our lungs, they expand. Ideally, they should be expanding downwards which will press down on your diaphragm and push out your stomach. Don’t worry, this won’t hurt. In fact, you’ve done it naturally all of your life.
A good way to notice this feeling occurring in your body is to lay flat on the floor and breathe in gently whilst resting a hand on your stomach. Do you notice it raise and lower? Another way to indirectly notice this is to observe a baby whilst they are asleep. Their stomachs move up and down with their breathing. N’awwww!
Expanding the chest
Or more accurately, the rib cage. To ensure the correct passage of air flow the ribs must be expanded at all times. This will also give you’re singing more resonance and power. How do we do this? Firstly, stand up straight. Firstly, roll your shoulders back. It shouldn’t hurt and they shouldn’t have any tension, just roll them back and relax. This should improve your posture. To check your posture stand with your back against a wall if you have to (your lower back may not touch the wall, but it should be no more than 1inch-2inches away. Now step away from the wall. You should now have a straight, upright posture. Now, I want you to raise your arms upwards, directly from you’re sides. Do not bend them or move them in front of you. First move them into an ‘arm span’ position (if you imagine a clock, it could be considered the quarter to three positions). Whilst here, push them out as if you’re trying to reach something with each arm. Do not be too aggressive with this, it should not feel uncomfortable. Now, whilst maintaining the stretch, raise both arms above your head. Your chest should feel as if it is being pressed out. Your ribs may feel like they are going to pop through your chest, this is good (for the record, they aren’t going to, but it’d make a cool video). Your ribs are now appropriately expanded. Don’t worry, over time you’ll learn how to find the feeling without going through this stretching stage. You can lower your arms now, by the way, just make sure to keep the feeling in the chest.
Breath into the whole waist, not exclusively the stomach
When many people are taught ’singing breathing’, they are taught to focus on the stomach only. The fact is, the whole waist can be expanded and this will make singing ten times easier whilst improving your power and control. Your sides and stomach should expand. This is something that will likely happen naturally as long as your keep the chest expanded. I cannot stress enough how important it is to keep the chest expanded in the ways mentioned above. Observe yourself in a mirror breathing to ensure you are breathing into the sides, as well as the stomach.
With all of this in mind, you should notice an improvement in your ability to control your voice and also in your performance. However, this is just the start. It’s important to ensure that you have the core essentials well established and feeling completely natural before you can move on to more advanced breathing skills. This will be the focus of my next guide. After all, as the title reads, this is just the “Basic Singing Techniques”. I hope this helps those who have been struggling with this area of their singing.