Breathing: For Singing and Life

 

Breathing is an essential part of life and provides us with oxygen to our cells and rids the body of waste. As singers we value the importance of being able to regulate our breath and increase our lung capacity for strength and endurance. Over the course of my many years as an educator I have observed that breathing seems to be one of the most misunderstood activities. As a result it can affect our ability to produce volume, quality of tone, and well-supported phrases.

 

The function of breathing

Many years ago I had the pleasure of meeting with Johan Sundberg, a highly regarded researcher on the singing voice and music performance. In an article from the NATS Journal (January/February1993) he wrote about the function of breathing:  

 

“Subglottal pressure is determined by muscular forces, elasticity forces, and gravitation. The phonatory function of the breathing apparatus is to provide a subglottal pressure. Both in singing and speech this pressure is adjusted according to the intended vocal loudness but in singing it has to be tailored also to pitch; higher pitches need higher pressures than lower pitches. As subglottal pressure affects pitch, singers need to develop a quite virtuosic breath control. Some singers activate the diaphragm only during inhalation and for reducing suhglottal pressure at high lung volumes, while other singers have been found to co-contract it throughout the breath phrase.“

 

According to Sundberg’s statement above there are three different forces that contribute to vocal volume; muscles, elasticity and gravitation. If we break these down into inhalatory and exhalatory we get the following:

 

Inhalatory:

  • Muscles include: 1) External Intercostals, 2) Diaphragm
  • Elasticity includes: Lower LV (lung volume) Rib Cage
  • Gravitation includes: Upright and sitting positions

Exhalatory

  • Muscles include: 1) Internal Intercostals, 2) Abdominal Wall
  • Elasticity includes: 1) High LV (lung volume) Rib Cage, 2) Lungs
  • Gravitation includes: Supine and hanging positions

When you inhale the intercostals widen the rib cage by lifting the ribs and when you exhale the intercostals muscles decrease the rib cage volume. The diaphragm is an important breathing muscle working in coordination with the other muscles of inspiration and expiration. 

 

What is diaphragmatic breathing?

I have included a YouTube video to show how the diaphragm works and functions since in my experience it’s clear that the majority of singers have no concept of what “diaphragmatic” breathing really means. That phrase is generally tossed around in singing circles without much understanding of the actual function of the diaphragm in the process of singing.  From the same article as above Sundberg explains it this way:

 

“The volume of the abdominal contents cannot easily be altered appreciably. Therefore, when the diaphragm contracts, it presses the abdominal contents downward which, in turn, press the abdominal wall outward. Actually, expansion of the abdominal wall during inhalation is a safe sign that the diaphragm was activated. If, on the other hand, the abdominal wall remains flat during inspiration, this means that only the intercostal muscles were used. An expansion of the abdominal wall during phonation is not necessarily a sign of diaphragmatic activation. It may equally well result from the increased lung pressure that is required for phonation. An overpressure in the lungs is transmitted downward through a relaxed diaphragm. Hence, the subglottic pressure will exert a pressure on the abdominal wall. By contracting the abdominal wall muscles, this expansion can he avoided.”

 

So often people tend to breathe by pulling in the abdominal wall in inspiration and pushing it out on the expiration. This is completely contrary to the natural function of the body and easily observed by watching a baby breathe. Unfortunately in our society we have obtained negative patterns of posture therefore creating less than desirable breathing as a result of sitting at desks, in cars or on chairs that do not give us the freedom to use our muscles with ease.

 

One of the best ways to understand how your body breathes is to lie on the floor with one hand on your belly and the other on the bottom of the rib cage with the thumb towards the back. In this position you can feel the combination of the diaphragm descending (or belly coming out) and the external intercostal muscles expanding together on an easy inhalation. As you exhale notice the diaphragm pulling up (belly coming in) as the air is gently released from the lungs and the internal intercostals work in conjunction. Once you can sense this connection in your body then take it to a standing position.

 

To extend the concept further for singing, as you are lying on the floor see if you can coordinate the muscles to move slowly so that the air is regulated or released at a slower rate. For singing we need that kind of control for longer, legato (connected) phrases as opposed to every day speech where we release the inhalation and exhalation with less lung volume.

 

The importance of posture and correct body movement

Remember, when you are in a standing position if the gravitational forces are not positioned ideally then you may have a more difficult time coordinating the muscles for the best efficiency. That is why posture and movement play such an integral part in the breathing process. I always suggest that singers combine their warm up exercises with some kind of established bodywork that supports the best posture, like Alexander Technique. I have witnessed far better singing with the inclusion of these types of postural improvements. Not only breathing but also it will assist with excessive tension in other areas of the body. That is why I periodically combine workshops with Kay Hogan, an Alexander Technique educator and trainer. (See the workshop or calendar link for current sessions).  

 

Remember, your body is your instrument so it’s imperative to find the best way for each individual to have optimal movement so that your singing can be free of constriction and give you the best sound possible with the greatest ease.

 

References: https://www.nats.org/_Library/Kennedy_JOS_Files_2013/JOS-049-3-1993-004.pdf

 

 

27 comments

  • rardVoday
    rardVoday
    Hello. And Bye.

    Hello. And Bye.

  • itaCab
    itaCab
    Ciao a tutti vengo dall'italia

    Ciao a tutti vengo dall'italia

  • rardVoday
    rardVoday
    hello everyone thanks for approve

    hello everyone thanks for approve

  • Liezel
    Liezel London
    wow

    wow

  • Joanna
    Joanna Zambia
    I know how important breathing could be in our lives, that's why we need to be thankful for that. Without breathing, we wouldn't be able to live our own lives! That's why it is important that we know some details about it. Technically speaking, we cannot live our own lives if we don't know how to take care of ourselves properly. According to [url=https://allessayvikings.com/review-on-bestessay-com/]bestessay[/url] that I have read, we need to be aware of all these!

    I know how important breathing could be in our lives, that's why we need to be thankful for that. Without breathing, we wouldn't be able to live our own lives! That's why it is important that we know some details about it. Technically speaking, we cannot live our own lives if we don't know how to take care of ourselves properly. According to bestessay that I have read, we need to be aware of all these!

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous United States
    I am so happy to know that you have actually decided something like this because I have always believed that you have what it takes to become successful with the things that you do. I wish that I was able to see this on the exact day this announcement was posted. If I was able to see this that time, write my assignment for me I will surely show my support in any form that I can. I would love to see the organization grow and for you guys to experience success. With all of the hard works you have exerted in every product you had, I know that in time, you will be able to make everything right for your business.

    I am so happy to know that you have actually decided something like this because I have always believed that you have what it takes to become successful with the things that you do. I wish that I was able to see this on the exact day this announcement was posted. If I was able to see this that time, write my assignment for me I will surely show my support in any form that I can. I would love to see the organization grow and for you guys to experience success. With all of the hard works you have exerted in every product you had, I know that in time, you will be able to make everything right for your business.

  • Ali
    Ali Dubai
    Figuring out how to utilize these with reason will permit you a great capacity to settle on and make the results that are fit to your bounty and development. [url=https://www.cleanandshine.ae/]cleaning service in dubai by clean and shine[/url]

    Figuring out how to utilize these with reason will permit you a great capacity to settle on and make the results that are fit to your bounty and development. cleaning service in dubai by clean and shine

  • Saad
    Saad Pakistan
    As of late, I confronted an emergency that doesn't appear to be so intelligently terrible. The emergency was losing one of my convenient advanced players. [url=https://www.carsrental247.com/]cars rental service in sialkot by cars rental 247[/url]

    As of late, I confronted an emergency that doesn't appear to be so intelligently terrible. The emergency was losing one of my convenient advanced players. cars rental service in sialkot by cars rental 247

  • Saad
    Saad Pakistan
    Life is a special case or a "joker card, best case scenario. What I mean is, the best chances come as apparently useless "trump cards" of chance that resemble work, yet truly are extraordinary chances in the best masks. [url=https://www.royalcarrentals.pk/]Rent a prado by Royal car rental[/url]

    Life is a special case or a "joker card, best case scenario. What I mean is, the best chances come as apparently useless "trump cards" of chance that resemble work, yet truly are extraordinary chances in the best masks.
    Rent a prado by Royal car rental

  • Alex
    Alex United Kingdom
    We should be what we need to be, before we truly have what we need to have in life just as would what we like to do during all that. That is the manner by which I start this scene of an article, with that emotional a practical assertion. [url=https://seedformations.co.uk/]private company limited by guarantee[/url]

    We should be what we need to be, before we truly have what we need to have in life just as would what we like to do during all that. That is the manner by which I start this scene of an article, with that emotional a practical assertion.
    private company limited by guarantee

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous new jersey
    I will always let you and your words become part of my day because you never know how much you make my day happier and more complete. There are even times Mens Brown Leather Suede shirt when I feel so down but I will feel better right after checking your blogs. You have made me feel so good about myself all the time and please know that I do appreciate everything that you have

    I will always let you and your words become part of my day because you never know how much you make my day happier and more complete. There are even times Mens Brown Leather Suede shirt when I feel so down but I will feel better right after checking your blogs. You have made me feel so good about myself all the time and please know that I do appreciate everything that you have

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous new jersey
    I want to say that is one of the top notch posts that i've perused in all my existence. the whole thing right here is certainly remarkable. I couldn't have requested assignment writing uk a highly improved put up than this. . i am capable of bookmark your internet web site and advocate to all my pals

    I want to say that is one of the top notch posts that i've perused in all my existence. the whole thing right here is certainly remarkable. I couldn't have requested assignment writing uk a highly improved put up than this. . i am capable of bookmark your internet web site and advocate to all my pals

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous new jersey
    Stunning site! Do you have any accommodating clues for trying essayists? I’m wanting to begin my own site soon yet I’m somewhat lost on everything. assignment crux Would you prompt beginning with a free stage like or go for a paid alternative? There are such a large number of alternatives out there that I’m totally overpowered .. Any thoughts? Welcome it!

    Stunning site! Do you have any accommodating clues for trying essayists? I’m wanting to begin my own site soon yet I’m somewhat lost on everything. assignment crux Would you prompt beginning with a free stage like or go for a paid alternative? There are such a large number of alternatives out there that I’m totally overpowered .. Any thoughts? Welcome it!

  • Jacky
    Jacky United States
    [url=https://www.danezon.com/category/tv-series-jackets/the-falcon-and-the-winter-soldier-jackets/]The Falcon and the Winter Soldier Merchandise [/url]
  • Ricky
    Ricky United Kingdom
    The principle distinction between SEM versus Web optimization is that SEM is a paid methodology and SEO is a natural system. Like most things in the hunt business, the definitions identified with search promoting have advanced. A few advertisers may believe SEM to be an umbrella term that incorporates both paid and natural systems. [url=http://www.essayempire.co.uk/]I Need an Essay[/url], Be that as it may, to make your advertising plan understood, we suggest breaking the terms into these particular classifications.

    The principle distinction between SEM versus Web optimization is that SEM is a paid methodology and SEO is a natural system. Like most things in the hunt business, the definitions identified with search promoting have advanced. A few advertisers may believe SEM to be an umbrella term that incorporates both paid and natural systems. I Need an Essay, Be that as it may, to make your advertising plan understood, we suggest breaking the terms into these particular classifications.

  • John Carter
    John Carter USA
    Appreciate your [URL=https://www.outclassjackets.com/sofia-karppi-deadwind-pihla-viitala-cotton-coat]Sofia Karppi Deadwind TV Show Coat[/URL] sharing this best posting.

    Appreciate your Sofia Karppi Deadwind TV Show Coat sharing this best posting.

  • John Carter
    John Carter USA
    Appreciate your [URL=https://www.outclassjackets.com/sofia-karppi-deadwind-pihla-viitala-cotton-coat]Sofia Karppi Deadwind TV Show Coat[/URL] sharing this best posting.

    Appreciate your Sofia Karppi Deadwind TV Show Coat sharing this best posting.

  • James Astorga
    James Astorga USA
    I really like your blog it is very helpful and informative content good work keep it up https://www.ujackets.com/product/money-heist-costume/

    I really like your blog it is very helpful and informative content good work keep it up https://www.ujackets.com/product/money-heist-costume/

  • shawn kemp
    shawn kemp
    I will always let you and your words become part of my day because you never know how much you make my day happier and more complete. There are even times when I feel so down but I will feel better right after checking your blogs. You have made me feel so good about myself all the get dissertation help time and please know that I do appreciate everything that you have

    I will always let you and your words become part of my day because you never know how much you make my day happier and more complete. There are even times when I feel so down but I will feel better right after checking your blogs. You have made me feel so good about myself all the get dissertation help time and please know that I do appreciate everything that you have

  • Ethan Mills
    Ethan Mills Australia
    [Url=https://www.jacketpop.com/product/fast-and-furious-9-roman-pearce-green-jacket.html] Roman Pearce Green Jacket ​​​​[/Url]
  • antivirus support
    antivirus support United States
    https://www.antivirus-number.com/trend-micro-support/ https://www.antivirus-number.com/mcafee-support/ https://www.antivirus-number.com/avast-antivirus-support/ https://www.antivirus-number.com/kaspersky-support/ https://www.antivirus-number.com/norton-support/
  • Bigvalue shop
    Bigvalue shop United States
    [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/elements-man-shakti-man/]elements man shakti man[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/on-on-body-butter-cream/]on on body butter cream[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/elements-champi-champion-taila/]elements champi champion taila[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/elements-protein-powder/]elements protein powder[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/elements-melt-fat/]elements melt fat[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/geografika-explore-the-world/]geografika explore the world[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/elements-wellness-cyclova-capsules/]elements wellness cyclova capsules[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/elements-wellness-ega-12-night-repair-cream/]elements wellness ega 12 night repair cream[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/elements-wellness-ega-12-day-protection-cream/]elements wellness ega 12 day protection cream[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/elements-below-37/]elements below 37[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/elements-wellness-natcium-caplets/]elements wellness natcium caplets[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/elements-fealing-iron-capsules/]elements fealing iron capsules[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/elements-wellness-thyhealth-liquid/]elements wellness thyhealth liquid[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/elements-wellness-3-in-1-face-wash/]elements wellness 3 in 1 face wash[/url]
  • Bigvalue shop
    Bigvalue shop India
    [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/elements-wellness-red-herbal-toothpaste/]elements wellness red herbal toothpaste[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/on-on-diabalife/]on on diabalife[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/on-on-spirulina-gold/]on on spirulina gold[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/indiagro-plant-askort/]indiagro plant askort[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/indiagro-mi-spray/]indiagro mi spray[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/indiagro-grow-magic/]indiagro grow magic[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/indiagro-tripmyte/]indiagro tripmyte[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/indiagro-fungikawach/]indiagro fungikawach[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/indiagro-white-crush/]indiagro white crush[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/elements-wellness-no-vedana-gel/]elements wellness no vedana gel[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/symbiosis-astham-care-syrup/]symbiosis astham care syrup[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/symbiosis-giloy-juice/]symbiosis giloy juice[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/symbiosis-trifla-aloe-vera-juice/]symbiosis trifla aloe vera juice[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/symbiosis-trifla-churan/]symbiosis trifla churan[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/willcraft-ts10-tracksuit/]willcraft ts10 tracksuit[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/tyka-cricket-pullover/]tyka cricket pullover[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/willcraft-wg7-wicket-keeping-gloves/]willcraft wg7 wicket keeping gloves[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/willcraft-bg10-batting-gloves/]willcraft bg10 batting gloves[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/willcraft-bg30-batting-gloves/]willcraft bg30 batting gloves[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/willcraft-bg20-batting-gloves/]willcraft bg20 batting gloves[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/willcraft-bg40-batting-gloves/]willcraft bg40 batting gloves[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/willcraft-bl10-batting-legguard/]willcraft bl10 batting legguard[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/willcraft-bl20-batting-legguard/]willcraft bl20 batting legguard[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/willcraft-wg2-wicket-keeping-gloves/]willcraft wg2 wicket keeping gloves[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/willcraft-wg3-wicket-keeping-gloves/]willcraft wg3 wicket keeping gloves[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/willcraft-wg4-wicket-keeping-gloves/]willcraft wg4 wicket keeping gloves[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/willcraft-wg5-wicket-keeping-gloves/]willcraft wg5 wicket keeping gloves[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/willcraft-bg05-batting-gloves/]willcraft bg05 batting gloves[/url]
  • Bigvalue shop
    Bigvalue shop India
    [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/elements-wellness-red-herbal-toothpaste/]elements wellness red herbal toothpaste[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/on-on-diabalife/]on on diabalife[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/on-on-spirulina-gold/]on on spirulina gold[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/indiagro-plant-askort/]indiagro plant askort[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/indiagro-mi-spray/]indiagro mi spray[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/indiagro-grow-magic/]indiagro grow magic[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/indiagro-tripmyte/]indiagro tripmyte[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/indiagro-fungikawach/]indiagro fungikawach[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/indiagro-white-crush/]indiagro white crush[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/elements-wellness-no-vedana-gel/]elements wellness no vedana gel[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/symbiosis-astham-care-syrup/]symbiosis astham care syrup[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/symbiosis-giloy-juice/]symbiosis giloy juice[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/symbiosis-trifla-aloe-vera-juice/]symbiosis trifla aloe vera juice[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/symbiosis-trifla-churan/]symbiosis trifla churan[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/willcraft-ts10-tracksuit/]willcraft ts10 tracksuit[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/tyka-cricket-pullover/]tyka cricket pullover[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/willcraft-wg7-wicket-keeping-gloves/]willcraft wg7 wicket keeping gloves[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/willcraft-bg10-batting-gloves/]willcraft bg10 batting gloves[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/willcraft-bg30-batting-gloves/]willcraft bg30 batting gloves[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/willcraft-bg20-batting-gloves/]willcraft bg20 batting gloves[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/willcraft-bg40-batting-gloves/]willcraft bg40 batting gloves[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/willcraft-bl10-batting-legguard/]willcraft bl10 batting legguard[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/willcraft-bl20-batting-legguard/]willcraft bl20 batting legguard[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/willcraft-wg2-wicket-keeping-gloves/]willcraft wg2 wicket keeping gloves[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/willcraft-wg3-wicket-keeping-gloves/]willcraft wg3 wicket keeping gloves[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/willcraft-wg4-wicket-keeping-gloves/]willcraft wg4 wicket keeping gloves[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/willcraft-wg5-wicket-keeping-gloves/]willcraft wg5 wicket keeping gloves[/url] [url=https://www.bigvalueshop.com/product/willcraft-bg05-batting-gloves/]willcraft bg05 batting gloves[/url]
  • Desert Adventure Safari Tours
    Desert Adventure Safari Tours Dubai
    Enjoy an adventure desert safari tour with our best team and make your tour memorable with family and friends. Everyone wants to visit Dubai because of modern culture and the most important desert safari. An adventure desert full of joy is attracted, everyone. Book desert safari Dubai and enjoy a lot of fun and entertainment. https://bookdesertsafaridubai.com/desert-adventure/

    Enjoy an adventure desert safari tour with our best team and make your tour memorable with family and friends. Everyone wants to visit Dubai because of modern culture and the most important desert safari. An adventure desert full of joy is attracted, everyone. Book desert safari Dubai and enjoy a lot of fun and entertainment. https://bookdesertsafaridubai.com/desert-adventure/

  • Sharp Property
    Sharp Property Australia
    This Article is so interesting. I have gained soo much information from it. i believe it will come in handy for me in future. https://sharpproperty.com.au/

    This Article is so interesting. I have gained soo much information from it. i believe it will come in handy for me in future. https://sharpproperty.com.au/

Add comment