Just like a professional athlete, vocalists must perfect foundational techniques before more advanced singing structures can be attained. Some of these foundation techniques may include basic vocal warm-ups, stretching, or breathing technique. In fact, vocal breathing may be one of the most important techniques to learn early in your singing career as improper breathing can greatly impede progress made later on.
Vocal breathing, if learned early, can allow singers to develop greater vocal strength, projection, as well as help singers increase their vocal range. However, while proper breathing is a great asset to your singing voice, improper breathing can be just as detrimental.
Improper breathing (also known as “shallow” or “chest” breathing) can cause vocal strain, decrease projection, and limit vocal range. It can cause the perception of a “weak” voice and limit progress made as you try to acquire new singing techniques.
While it is beneficial to learn proper breathing techniques early in your vocal training, proper breathing can be practiced and attained regardless of your level of training. It may require a little more practice to counteract current breathing habits; however, poor breathing habits can be easily corrected regardless your level of vocal training.
One simple way to assess and practice proper breathing is by using the floor technique. Many singers who practice poor breathing utilize clavicular breathing where the breathe is caught in the top of the lungs causing the clavicle and shoulders to rise. The floor technique uses gravity to prevent this from happening regardless of habit. The floor technique involves lying on your back on a flat solid surface, such as hardwood floors. Lay your arm and hands to your sides with your palms facing toward the ceiling. In this position, take a deep breathe, inhaling as deep into your stomach as possible. Your stomach should expand toward the ceiling. This is an indicator that you are inhaling deeply into your lungs rather than a shallow breathe which will sit in the top of your lungs causing your shoulders to rise. Lying on a solid surface allows gravity to help you practice proper breathing by preventing your shoulders from rising.
Continue to lie on the floor and take 10-15 more deep breathes. Practicing this proper breathing technique before your regular vocal warm-ups will help ensure that you are practicing proper breathing while you vocalize.
Proper breathing enhances your vocal quality as well as enables a greater vocal range and helps to progress to more advanced vocal training. Voice lessons online can help you eliminate vocal strain and enhance your vocal quality using these vocal breathing techniques.
As a third generation child of music (My grandmother is a proficient organist and pianist, my mother a classically trained vocalist and music educator) I have had the joy of being raised in an environment that fostered musical creativity. This creativity I was able to express both on stage vocally and as a part of musical theater. It has allowed me to participate in my community and challenge myself academically. I have found the quest for vocal improvement to be both enlightening and challenging and take every opportunity I can to further my learning.
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