Putting it together (Part 4)

Now that you have learned what good breathing technique should feel like in your body, it’s time to actually sing.

I suggest practising on easy notes within your range. As you sing higher, the effort and the amount of air you take in, will need to increase down yonder…..so start easy and focus on the sensations in your stomach, ribs, back and lower abdomen….not the sound of your voice!

When you inhale, practise taking the air in like a ” quick sip”, almost like through a straw…but not such a small straw that you feel like you can’t get in enough air….but just big enough that you feel “satisfied” and can sense your belly expanded, and your umbrella engaged.

***IMPORTANT NOTE Most singers take in WAY TOO MUCH air. This is why you need to practise everything on a small scale first.

Now, this will happen continuous and fast because you will automatically feel the instinct to inhale after singing on an exhale. Don’t hold your breath…but rather “grip” that sensation, or “hold” that sensation with your ribs and abdominal muscles (the umbrella!) while at the same time, steadily and firmly controlling the sound of your note (which is your breath!).

Try this.

Inhale and expand while counting to 2, suspend and hold the umbrella for a brief second, and then sing a comfortable note with this gripped energy/effort mentioned in the last post. (This energy will feel like a downward push into your groin area). Sing that controlled note for a few counts…do not let your neck, throat and shoulders engage. Your belly should be coming in (you are engaged and pulling it in) as you are singing…very much like an accordian is pushed in to make sound, or like a fireplace bellow is squeeze to push air out.

Yes, it can be uncomfortable in your abdominal area as you are running out of breath! Breath support is VERY PHYSICAL. But it is the muscles around your abdomen, back and ribs that you need to focus on. This is the physical feeling you want to engage…the controlled release of your breath.

You will notice you will automatically recoil into your next breath intake because you have exhausted yourself in the last cycle. Your body will automatically want to breath again, and it will likely want to take in more air, especially if you held your note for a long time. Be careful, do not raise your shoulders and upper chest! Relax….do everything again and repetitively on a smaller scale to find the momentum where you can control the cycle and stay focused on the abdomen.

The goal here isn’t to make you lightheaded or dizzy….but that may happen at first until you find how much air you can manage at this point in time. On the other hand, learning how to control your exhale means that you will get that sensation of running out of air…and it will feel good! Yes, good breath control means you enjoy and relish the sensation of running out of breath! It will not be a sense of desperation, like when you can’t breath, but simply a sensation that the abdomen is squeezing out all the air that is inside, and you will know you soon need to refill.

You may notice your tone production is light and breathy. That can happen at first, especially if you have had a habit of gripping and over-compressing at the vocal cord level. A great visualization to help with this is to imagine you are inhaling while you are actually exhaling! I know that may seem bizzare but try it. Imagine your voice is actually going backwards down your throat or out the back of your head as you sing a note. This will help you control the air being released through the vocal cords, and make your sound less breathy.

Some final tips:

1. Find the balance that you can manage right now.

2. Maintain a sense of the start of a yawn in the back of your throat.

3. Recognize that there is a sensation of engagement or lock down in the groin and lower abdomen and back area. This downward pressure is very apparent. It’s basically like the sensation you have just before you sneeze.

4. ┬áRecognize that your abdomen, ribs and back (your umbrella) will lock down too. This is what controlling your breath feels like. Your stomach will feel like it is pushing in as you are locking down…you can visualize your belly button going through to your back in an engaged and controlled sensation.

Well, that’s about it. There are other ways of visualizing the process, but hopefully my take on it helps put things into perspective for you. Why not let me know what you think. Please leave a message below or shoot me an email.

 

 

2 thoughts on “Putting it together (Part 4)

  1. Question on #4 . Is the umbrella the lower ribs and back that stay expanded while the abs pull inwards ? Or does the ribs also collapse while the abs pull in ? I promise I’ll keep re-reading the other articles on breathing !!! Thank You

    • Hi Rob, Thanks again for your question. It is my pleasure to share my experience and knowledge with all singers who want to learn to sing better.

      The umbrella sensation I’m referring to never collapses. It is a feeling of freedom of expansion of the lower ribs and back all in one. This freedom seamlessly expands and comes back to “start” position every time I breath…without thinking….even while I sit here and write this to you. The abdomen is simply going in and out as I breath…again without thinking. When I sing, it feels like an elongated flow of controlled breath coming out my mouth. It feels small, and yet sounds big.

      I would not put too much emphasis on “breathing” if you think it is causing you grief or tension. If you focus on your breath the wrong way, it can get in the way of allowing your voice to grow and strengthen in the correct way. Doing exercises that strengthen your entire voice range and learning from the following singing products will all help guide you to a better singing voice; Singing Success, Mastering Your Mix (Brett Manning), Raise Your Voice (Jaime Vendera), Metal Method (Jim Gillette), Four Pillars of Singing (Robert Lunte), and The Zen of Screaming (Melissa Cross).

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