There is a delicate balancing act happening in your body while you sing. Your breathing pattern is responding to how you just spent your last breath. This happens automatically and we don’t really need to think about it. Or do we?
Speech Level Singing takes the emphasis off of breathing technique, and puts it at the vocal cord level. The student is encouraged to make “correct” sounds at a volume that is least breathy and most manageable throughout their entire range. I like this approach because singers learn to control the voice throughout both registers at an even volume at the same time. Endurance and strength is built on a foundation of blending and smooth transitioning from the singer’s lowest note to their highest note. This blending (mixing) is a great technique for all genres of music.
Once a singer is mixing, it’s time to step up the workout and maximize effort and balance thoughout the body. The vocal cords are getting a great workout. Now the body needs to learn how to help the vocal cords control breath pressure. The better breath management a singer has, the more control is achievable by the singer.
There are many “visualizations” and exercises that can help a singer with breath control. One easy visualization is the sensation of picking up a suitcase in each hand. Notice how your abdominal muscles and rib cage engage as you “pretend” to do this. Be sure your neck and throat do not engage as well. This body anchor feeling is a great way to understand and sense how the body can help your breath control. Now, sing any vowel on a comfortable pitch without this body anchor, and then again with this body anchor. Did you notice a difference in your tone? Most likely the tone is less breathy with your body anchor (or at least it should be!)
The back, neck and head can also assist in breath management. This sensation is not tense, but simply anchored. In other words, the body, neck and head are engaged and ready to help the vocal cords do their job (which is closure). Be sure to embrace your entire “self” as you sing. There is no need to force the voice to make sounds that don’t happen easily when you are anchored well. Instead, repeat, repeat, repeat with different approaches. Try to take in more breath. Try to anchor more. Did it make a difference? Singing well is very physical………….the trick is putting the “physical” in the correct parts of the body!