how to properly breathe for singing

Proven Breathing Exercises For Singing Explained In 10 Minutes

Why Do I Need To Know How To Breath When Singing?

If the bow is the reason why a violin makes a sound, then vocal cords vibrate through the air via breathing. That is how essential breathing exercises for singing is.

You cannot expect to hear a high-quality tone from your singing if you cannot control your breathing.

Breath control is the foundation of good sound production. 

We build all sorts of techniques to make our sound beautiful, but we rely on the knowledge of breathing to make all of these techniques work.

Breath Support - An Absurd Instruction

I am sure that you’ve heard it several times before, sing with breath support. Whenever you start to take voice lessons or join a choir, you will most like be hearing these words over and over again.

They tell you to use “support” or “breath support.” You make a mistake; they tell you the same words again. 

That is so ridiculous! They tell you to do something without having a clear picture as to what it’s all about. Not in our case! We make sure that you fully understand how breathing exercises for singing feels like and sounds like.

Is Breathing That Important?

You cannot put a number to it, but you can describe it. When someone sings, and it sounds thin or unpleasant, most probably the reason is that it lacks the necessary support system we need when we are singing. That’s where breathing exercises for singing plays a major role and create a big difference in sound.

Supported sound vs. an unsupported sound

To help you better understand the concept of support, watch the video above at around 2 minutes of the timeline.

As you can hear, a supported sound is way more pleasant to the listener than an unsupported sound. How much more if you compare an entire song between these two sound qualities? Voice quality is important if you are performing or competing – check this article about judging singing competitions.

How To Breathe Correctly Then? - The age-old question.

Stop right there and hit that pause button!

From the novice to the highly acclaimed teacher, there is an ongoing debate online and offline as to what is the proper way of breathing for singing.

If we start claiming that this article holds the answer to the age-old question of “what’s the correct way of breathing for singing,” then we just told everyone else that they are wrong.

No! We are not claiming that, and we’re not here to tell everyone else is wrong.

We are here to share breathing exercises for singing that works for our students and us and what everyone generally agrees on. So let’s get right into it!

Breathing Should Happen Naturally

You are a living person, and you breathe without you thinking about it. The problem with breathing when we try to sing is we suddenly turn into a very conscious artist the moment we are asked to breathe.

Remember this. Breathing should be natural. The same is true for all breathing exercises for singing. It mas be second nature, and we should not think so much about it that it hinders us from singing beautifully.

The Diaphragm

Here’s a short video of what the Diaphragm is all about. You don’t need to finish it since the second half of it is all about infections. Just watch the first fifteen seconds.

Now, to help you feel your Diaphragm and get a good understanding of its function, please do the following things.

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Finding your Diaphragm

I want you to use your fingers and place them exactly like the gi on the right. Find the bone in the area at the tip of your sternum.

Now, move it down and find that fleshy muscle just right below. For some people, it’s easier to see while for others; it may not be that easy, but it’s there.

You are now in your diaphragm area. We will be doing some breathing exercises for singing to help you understand how it functions with singing.

how to find your diaphragm
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What happens to your Diaphragm When You Are Breathing?

While your fingers are still on top of your diaphragm area, try to breathe in and notice what happens.

Here we go 3… 2… 1… breathe!

What happens to your Diaphragm?

What happens to your Diaphragm When You Cough Or Sneeze?

Now, let your fingers rest in the same area just as we were doing with the previous exercise. This time, I want you to simulate the act of coughing, but when you are about to cough, just freeze and don’t cough.

Refer to the video below.

Now you try it in 3… 2… 1… cough!

What happened to your Diaphragm?

This time, I want you to simulate the act of coughing, but at the point of when you are about to cough, you freeze.

Now, you try it in 3… 2… 1… sneeze!
 

What happened to your Diaphragm?

The Diaphragm When You Are Singing

Ok. In this exercise, I want you to simulate the act of singing, but then again, at the point where you are about to sing a note, hold it right there and freeze.

Now, you try it in 3… 2… 1… sing!
What do you notice?

Understanding And Feeling What The Word "Support" Means

The activities above that we wanted you to do all had one purpose. It’s for you to understand and physically feel what happens to your Diaphragm when you do all of the given activities above.

If you’ve done them all, you will notice that the Diaphragm did one thing in all given activities. It tightened every time you do any of the assigned activities above.

That is what we call “support!”

The Diaphragm supports the lungs and other related muscles when you sneeze, or else you’d be sneezing out your insides. The same is true when you are coughing and, more importantly, singing, and even doing simple breathing exercises for singing!

That tightening motion of your Diaphragm is what you need to be apple to support the sound of your voice when you are singing. Your job as a singer is to delay (as much as possible) the return of the diaphragm to it’s normal position.

So when someone wants you to project a good sound, and they say “give it some support,” you now have a physical feeling of what that support feels like!

When Does Support Ends?

Now that you have a solid understanding of how to use your Diaphragm for support in singing, the next question would be – when do you use it?

When does support start?

Is it before singing a note or right upon singing the note?

When does support end?

Is it right at the end of the note or after singing the note?

The answer?

You start supporting your sound or the note that you will be singing even before singing the note. Remember the breathing exercises for singing we want you to do above?

Those exercises never let you do the act itself but froze you right at the point of doing it. Did you notice what happened to your Diaphragm? It tightened right before the action occurred.

It merely means that the support to all of those activities started even before doing the act. In this case, even before singing.

So whenever you want to start singing. You need to breathe and add support to ensure that you produce a good quality sound when you sing.

Now, support ends right after singing the note and not at the end of the note. If you release your support when the note also ends, you will most probably sound weak at the end of your phrasing.

Sing with your Diaphragm - Debunking The Myth!

If someone tells you to sing with your Diaphragm, don’t listen! My goodness! Here are two obvious reasons why it’s a mistake to say this phrase.

  1. The vocal cord produces the sound, not your Diaphragm!
  2. The diaphragm is an involuntary muscle. You cannot control it, let alone sing with it!

Ideas like this don’t help people who are learning how to sing. They confused students and learners instead of assisting them in understanding the mechanics of breathing and singing.

5 Essential Rules to Observe When Breathing For Singing

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1. Inhalation should not be audible.

When you inhale, don’t make any unnecessary noise just to let everyone in the room know that you are taking in air.

don't raise your shoulders when breathing
a collapse sternum after breathing

2. Inhalation should never be visible.

Similar to the first rule, we do not want to let anyone notice that we are taking in a deep breath while singing. It should look natural.

Remember, do not raise the shoulders or the rib cage during inhalation. Doing so will make you look natural as you prepare to sing.

 

3. Do not let the chest collapse when you exhale.

This is something most beginners do. Right after taking in air to prepare for singing, they let it all go in a blow right on the first note.

Do not let your chest or sternum visibly collapse when you exhale. Let the airflow without changing the placement or your chest.

4. Stand up straight, but make sure to keep your body relaxed.

When you are in a standing position, make sure to make muscle relaxed. If you are sitting, avoid sitting on your tummy where your Diaphragm is located. 

There is an entire topic on singing posture that will handle this area. 

5. Do not fill your lungs with air to the brim.

It is not the volume of the air that affects your singing voice. Instead, it’s the “how you use” the air when you sing that makes all the difference.

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Breathing Techniques | Exercises For Singing

Alright! If you have come this far, I’m guessing you now have an idea of how support works. It’s time to do some breathing exercises for singing for you to be able to apply to your breathing strategies.

Click on the following titles to expand and see the instructions.

Simple Breathe In and Breathe Out

Assuming that you now know about correct posture for both sitting and standing, let’s proceed with our very first breathing exercise.

Breathe primarily through the nose. Remember not to make any unnecessary sounds when you do it. Do not raise your chest or shoulders. Exhale on a soft s or f. Wait until you feel the urge to breathe again and observe how your body breathes in on its own.

Long Exhalation

The good thing about this exercise is that you can put a number on your progress. You can either count manually or use a stopwatch (your cellphone) to monitor your progress.

You take a deep breath and slowly exhale continuously for as long as you can. While exhaling, you either count manually or use a stopwatch. When you have no more air to expel anymore, just raise your hand and stop counting.

You monitor how long you can continually exhale and do it all over again until you extend the length of time you can manage to do this.

The longer, the better.

Panting

Have you ever seen your dog pant? Tongue out, breathing in and out at a fast pace. That’s panting.

Another good breathing exercise for singing is panting. For starters, you might get a little dizzy doing this. So, I recommend you do it in intervals. Try it for 15 seconds at first attempt, then 30 seconds for your second attempt, and increase as you see fit.

Some people I know can do it for 2 minutes or longer.

Discontinuous Breaths

Try taking three discontinuous breaths, as if you were smelling something. It can be smelling a flower, a perfume, or you let your imagination decide. While doing this, you also try to expand your pharynx.

The pharynx is the membrane-lined cavity behind the nose and mouth, connecting them to the esophagus. This is according to the Oxford dictionary.

Breathe Mental and Breathe Deep

Most people think that breathing exercises for singing are as simple as filling your lungs with air, and that’s it. 

No. It’s far more detailed than that.

When you breathe, use your imagination and try to fill your entire body with air. Imagine that your body is a container and breathe down deep even to the back of your body. 

It’s a mental thing, and it requires your imagination to do it. Hold the back part of your waistline and try to fill it with air when you are inhaling.

Doing so actually grounds your support much lower and much stronger.

Diaphragmatic Breathing Exercises

The following breathing exercises for singing are meant to trigger or activate your Diaphragm.

Surprise Breathing

Take one quick breath with your mouth open and make a “surprised” facial expression.

At the same time, try to expand the mouth and pharynx region.

Exhale with short hard breaths

This exercise would require you to imagine the following:

  1. You have discovered some dust particles, and you want to blow it away with quick, hard puffs. Remember the story of the big bad wolf? Only this time, you need to have spurts than doing a big blow.
  2. You are holding a withered flower in your hand, maybe a dandelion, and you want to blow away the seeds with a few puffs as possible.

Variation on Breathing

This exercise not only activates your Diaphragm, but it also creates a positive, relaxed atmosphere and loosens up tense muscles.

Imitate various natural sounds, such as:

  1. A gentle evening breeze with a soft f (piano)
  2. A roaring thunderstorm with sh (forte or fortissimo)
  3. An approaching and a retreating swarm of bees with a soft z

Applying Breathing Exercises In Actual Singing

What good is a concept if you can’t put it into practice? Right?!

So how about we do some challenges for you in which you can work on for the following days. Remember, your voice need not to be forced to open up. Learning how to control your breathing also is a long dedicated process, and it’s not an overnight thing.

But, there are things we can try, which we can see results right away. Let’s put these breathing exercises for singing into action.

Breathing For Singing - Can You Sing This?

Let us try to sing a very popular and straightforward song while applying the concept of breathing.

The song is “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” 

Sing the song while breathing at where the slashes are located. You can use the audio below to play the music and try to sing your way through the exercise.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star/

How I wonder what you are/

Up above the world so high/

Like a diamond in the sky/

 Try to sing the song while breathing after every two lines instead of one. You can use the audio provided here as an accompaniment for this exercise.

Conclusion

This entire article aims to provide a clear understanding of how essential breathing exercises for singing are. If you are a beginner student in singing, then this will be a great article to learn from for you.

If you are already a seasoned singer, I would love to know your thoughts on the things I have shared and leave them in the comment section below.

benefits of choir singing

11 Undeniable Benefits of Choir Singing

Don’t think that choir singing is uncool and outdated because you need to know these benefits of choir singing before even saying it’s not for you.

I have met a lot of singers who think less about choirs and consider themselves better off doing a solo act. Especially if you are from a place where no music conservatory is accessible, most probably, you will look down on any chorale groups.

Is there any benefit you get when you try to join any chorale group near your place? Are you going to improve or degrade if you refuse yourself of a solo act and start working with a group?

Well, here’s a list of the things you might want to consider.

Benefits of Choir Singing

Self Confidence

Performing on any given stage on your own is a daunting task. Not everyone who tries a solo act is comfortable being alone on stage. Even veteran singers or stage actors are still frightened occasionally.

Joining a chorale group solves precisely that problem. It is less frightening on stage when you get to sing with a companion.

Choirs boost self-confidence and self-esteem because you are part of a larger group. You get to sing with other people on stage, so you experience less stage fright.

You Learn To Read Music

In addition to the list of the benefits of choir singing, you get to learn music. You do not need to be a music major to be part of a singing group but, you will learn music if you join one. Understanding basic music theory is every choir member’s task.

There are choirs were the conductor is the person who understands the music. He then teaches it to the members.

There are also excellent choral groups where the learning of the music is passed on to the members. Choir members are trained to understand the fundamentals of music, notation, and sight-reading.

You build a better musical ear.

One of the benefits of choir singing is building a better musical ear.

Many amateur solo singers have intonation problems – they don’t have a good hold of their pitch when singing. Such a thing is real for most singers who are still starting.

When you join a singing group, your approach and dedication to singing in tune are way more strict. You cannot afford to be out of tune, even the slightest bit. It is not suitable for a choir to be out of tune.

Just imagine, you entered the team with a bad musical ear but as time progress you get to be better at harmonizing. Talk about the benefits of choir singing.

You get to harmonize both in singing and friendship.

benefits of choir singing – singing with friends

I had members who were excellent amateur soloists inclined with pop singing. Being in a chorale group was so foreign to them, and some technical aspects of singing were also new to them.

The most obvious improvement was their ability to harmonize. Before joining the choir, all these singers could do was sing the melody of a song.

After spending time in the choir and after a lot of workshops, they can now harmonize with someone singing the melody of any song on the fly.

Like seriously.

More events than doing a solo act

I am not saying that doing a solo act is useless. Never will I say that.

What I mean is, if you are an unsigned artist, being in a singing group opens more doors of opportunities.

Not all talents doing a solo act have the opportunity to get gigs and significant events to which they can perform. One must learn the art of networking. That’s precisely a choir’s advantage over a single person working alone.

Imagine if there are 30 members in a choir, you have 30 different people with different friends and networks they can share. Finding clients and performances is not that hard compared to doing things alone.

It doesn’t have to be for a choir performance. Events may need a quartet, just ten singers, or even a solo performance. What matters is, you have a more significant web of networks connecting.

Competitions Local and Abroad

I am not saying being a solo performer means you can’t get to compete. By all means, if working solo works for you, then go ahead and reach for your dreams.

Not all people can sing solo on stage, and it’s daunting for most. Competition with a teammate on stage is another thing that a choir can offer. Also, choir competitions exist locally and internationally.

There will always be a reason to practice, especially for a competing choir.

Another thing you should remember is that competitions can bring you places. Your singing with a choir could bring you to different locations, which might not be even possible for you if you were singing by yourself.

You might want to read this article on how to organize local choral competitions.

Workshops and Continous Training

Most amateur solo performers do not consider hiring a coach. They usually struggle on their own. That’s another area where choral singing has the advantage.

You see, every choir starts rehearsal with a warm-up. This routine ensures that you sing healthily and that the sound of the rehearsal is good. Your vocals are always kept in check.

Choirs always have room for workshops. Conductors know that from time to time, they need to bring an expert to teach their members. These workshops provide more insights for every singer. New techniques to work on, and it makes you a better performer.

Some famous Celebrities were once choir members

You may not know it, but some of the singers or actors you adore so much were once choir members.

Don’t you believe me?

Go check out this article of 7 celebrities that were also members of a vocal group.

7 celebrities who sang in their school choir.

My point here is, if these very successful people even considered joining a choir, then wouldn’t that speak volumes about choral singing?

Belongingness and Comfort

It’s not just in a choir; it’s also true for groups like a basketball team or a volleyball team.

What’s unique about being in a choir is you get to make music with people you connect.

Remember this; good choirs need to agree with all the members to sound good. If you quarrel with another member, the sound will be affected.

It works as a family; you need to belong to be able to make good music. In my years of teaching choirs, there are even members who find peace in joining choirs.

In rehearsals, you all forget what happened at home, at work, and school. You all drop your cares and think about the music. Everyone connects in those moments of singing – they belong together as a unit.

Losing and Winning together.

Whatever happens during a competition, you share it. If a solo singer loses a particular competition, he or she needs to bear the pressure alone.

For chorale groups, you get to share the burden of loss and the joy of winning with other members. You get to absorb the negative impact less and multiply happiness because you share it with friends.

By the way, I wrote an article on how to prepare for a singing competition.

Leadership and Teamwork

Obviously, when you are working with a group of people, you need to have an agreement. To achieve such a state of mind, the quality of leadership, and the relationship of each member must be considered. Leadership is one of the benefits of choir singing.

Leaders in such a group will naturally stand out as the team continuously make progress. From rehearsals to competitions, the natural selection of leaders and members will eventually point out those with the gift of being a leader.

As for teamwork, you can’t create music without it. It’s mandatory, but it should come naturally and not something you force upon the members.

Conclusion

I cannot speak for the experience of other choral groups, but I do know that these things are everyday happenings for all choirs. If you can’t relate, it may be that things are different in your choir, or you haven’t joined a choir at all.

Regardless, the things mentioned above is none existent if you sing on your own. You will never have the blissful moments of making harmony with other performers.

So I strongly suggest, you go find yourself a singing group now and try it. You might end up wanting more. I hope that this article on the benefits of choir singing has given you important insights about choral singing.

Best Tips On How To Organize Local Choral Competition

8 Best Tips On How To Organize Local Choral Competition

Best Tips On How To Organize Local Choral Competition

Here are some of the best tips on how to organize local choral competition. Organizing a local choral competition is no easy task. Like every other competition, you will most probably have participants who might have more experience than you do.

A pretty common scenario for much local choral competition is when participants are displeased with the outcome of the event. Many things can cause your participants to turn sour and for your competition to collapse.

Here are a few tips for organizers doing choral competitions.

Have A Plan

Yes, it might be cliche, but cliches work. That is why people repeat doing it because they work. Know the ins and outs of your event. Many things are crucial for the success of organizing choral competitions.

Length of preparation

No matter how good you are, cramming things is not the right way to operate. Do not prepare when the event is already at hand. Give yourself enough time to deal with the needs of your competition.

Organizing choral competitions need long preparations. Choral competitions require many things, and all of these also require time. Renting a venue for your competition needs time.

Organizers have to send letters to venue owners, and the process may take days, weeks, or months to have an agreement for both parties.

Your contestants must also have time enough to practice for their pieces, unlike solo competitions where the contestant can have a week or two to prepare. Choral competitions take months and hundreds of hours to finish learning songs.

Many school-based competitions abruptly scheduled. Everyone is in a panic because there are only weeks into the preparation. A very unhealthy way of organizing stuff. It stresses everyone out. Contestants may not have enough rehearsal time, which may lead to no entry submissions.

Remember, time is of the essence, never rush things

Decent to hefty prizes

Like any other event, having a reasonable budget is one of the best tips on how to organize local choral competitions is of utmost importance. You need to have an excellent figure to give for your prizes. Choir contestants practice hundred of hours to perform for like 10 minutes during the competition.

As a gesture of respect for their efforts, you can start by raising the number of your prizes.

I have witnessed a choral competition where the grand prize was only 5,000 pesos (100 USD). It was sacrilegious! Imagine a group of 20 or more people sharing 5,000 pesos.

They rehearsed for weeks or months and spent on their costumes. The prize was not even enough for a proper meal. Avoid being an organizer who never values the effort. Start by giving good prizes.

Contestants would not want to waste their time for a competition that can’t even compensate for their efforts.

Venue and room acoustics

Organizing choral competitions require an excellent venue to house your event. It also requires a venue with proper room acoustics. I have seen many chorale competitions set in an open space inside the mall. Well, doing so actually can be useful for the mall’s business, but it requires an excellent sound system.

If you want to know more about room acoustics you can visit this link. You can save money from sound system rental if you have an excellent sounding room.

Try to use no microphones

Having an excellent sounding room is very good for choral competitions. You can do away with using microphones for the competition.

Using microphones poses many problems for your choral competition.

First, if the mixing engineer is not well trained to produce a good sound, then your choirs have problems during the performance.

Second, judges need to score on the mixing of the audio rather than the real vocal quality of the choir. It may not always be the case, but this is an excellent approach to making sure the credibility of your competition is intact.

Deciding to put your competition inside the open space of a mall, then obviously you need to use a good sound system for your contestants. The bottom line is, choral competitions are all about raw vocal quality, not how good the sound system is.

Judges should be more than capable

Another one of the best tips on how to organize local choral competition is getting outstanding judges.

For places where there are no music schools, good music teachers are hard to come by.

What happens usually is that organizers tend to hire the wrong people. Credibility, experience, and excellent portfolio matters!

  1. Don’t hire judges who don’t know a thing about choral competitions. Some competitions introduce, accountants, engineers, as judges. I have nothing against them except if they wrongfully judge the event. I know lots of conductors who are not music majors and still are very good at choral competitions.
  2. Get the best judges possible in your locality. Know someone who has recently won competitions or is actively involved in any choral activities. Checking the background of a person before having them judge your competition is essential. Recommendations must still undergo heavy scrutiny because it affects the credibility of your competition.
  3. Get judges who stand for their verdict. Even with the best judges on board, it is still possible to have unsatisfied participants. Good judges can stand their ground and even explain it directly to contestants why the judging results were so.

Hire high profile judges

Part of protecting your name as an organizer of your local choral competition is linking your event with well-known identities in the choir industry.

Yes, they are expensive, but the money you spend to hire them is worth it.

Participants have more respect for the event because of the roster of judges involved. The more you give value to your judging panel, the higher people think of your event.

Quality photo and Videos

Of course, you don’t want people to remember your event by memory alone.

Having good quality photos and videos can further advertise your event even after it culminated.

Sharing it online is beneficial for your event.

Participants would love to see pictures and videos they could share online.

Why Organizing Local Choral Competitions matter?

Being an organizer for your local choral competition is a sacred obligation. Events such as this educate the public. That is why you need to know the best tips on how to organize a local choral competition.

If you have a good competition, it teaches participants more about how they could improve their performances and musical education in the field of choral singing.

If you don’t mind the details of your event, it affects the learning process of the participants, especially for areas that do not have music schools.

Di you find these 8 best tips on how to organize local competition useful? Let me know by leaving a comment.