Breath Support (Part 1)

Breath support is such an interesting feeling. When you tap into the exactness of this coordination with your body, your ability to sing better can explode. The ability to control your voice is what we are talking about here. The ability to manage volume changes, vibrato variations, and change tonal colors are under this umbrella of control that you can achieve from great breath support. Oh and yes, of course….sing high notes with power! We all want to do that!

There are tons of books and you tube videos about breathing and breath control during singing, so check out as much as you can.

The process needs to be broken down into 3 parts; the intake of air, the support of the air you just breathed in, and the output of the air (your singing)! These three steps must work together for optimum breath control. If one is out of sync, the entire process is unbalanced. That’s why you must TAKE YOUR TIME and be aware of the sensations in your body. I will try and describe what I feel through this process. Again, you need to take a step back, get in touch with your body, and stop focusing on the “sound” you want to make. ¬†Focus on the feelings in your body.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and great breath control won’t instantly happen either. So be patient. When you learn what your body needs to do (and feel) to help you sing better, you can better your journey through this awareness.



Pain and fatigue

Let’s be clear, if it tickles, scratches or hurts then you are doing something wrong.

Fatigue, on the other hand, is a sign of growth (assuming the fatigue is in the correct place). If you want to sing better, you need to teach yourself the details necessary to achieve your fullest potential. And, you will get tired. Ah, but be careful. Is your effort in the correct place? This is where a teacher to guide you can speed up your progress significantly.

Self awareness is key here. You are in charge of your body and voice. You are the driver. We, the teachers, are simply the navigators. We don’t know how hard you are working and where your effort is. We only have our ears to signal us as to what you are likely doing. You, on the other hand, have your body, your mind, and your throat to steer you in the right direction.

Here are some variables to keep in mind.

1. How much air are you taking in before you sing a phrase?
2. How much air are you letting out on the first opening (onset) of a phrase, and continuing to let out throughout the phrase?
3. How much cord closure are you getting? Too much will cause over-compression and a squeezing loud sound. This is usually not pleasant to listen to. Too little closure and you will not have the ability to bridge or control details like dynamics and resonance.
4. How much thinning of the vocal cord edges are you getting? This is where some of the real action is, and it’s so detailed, it needs an entire book. (And it’s in direct relation to your breath intake/out-take and cord closure noted in #1, #2, and #3.
5. How high is your larynx? Careful attention to the up and down movements of your larynx will help guide you. Knowing when your larynx is going too high when singing high notes will help you stay on the right track.
6. How much resonance are you achieving? Optimal resonance will give you and your audience goosebumps! When you find the “zone” for balancing your voice with the frequency you are singing, your voice will pop. Your voice will feel huge. The key here is maintaining that balance of resonance and harmonic overtones throughout your entire range. Great resonance can only be achieved when the above are in good working order.
7. How much are your vocal cords stretching? The ability to stretch will create twang, which will increase resonance and a whole other gamut of great things you can do with your voice.
8. How open is your throat and mouth? What is your tongue doing?

Although singing isn’t rocket science, we were each born with a unique instrument inside our throat. This makes every person’s path to improvement different. What works for me, might not work for you. But, knowing the details to look for can put you in the driver’s seat.

Questions? Comments? Please leave them below.