Breathing is something we do naturally, without having to think about it, so it’s hard to imagine we may be doing it wrong! Breathing just to stay alive and breathing as a singer, however, are two very different things. It’s no surprise that singing is often associated with the positive effects of meditation, because of how deeply we breathe as singers.
If you have just embarked on singing lessons for adults, your breath is actually one of the most important things to master. This is because we create sound by the air passing through vocal folds, so mastering your breath will give you greater control of your volume, the sound you produce, your pitch and more. Proper breath control will also ensure you don’t run out of breath during a phrase. So, let’s dive into the best breathing exercises for singing.
Think About Your Posture
Before we even get into breathing exercises, you need to make sure you have a good posture while singing. This will allow the air to flow freely through your body. Whether you choose to stand or sit down while singing, straighten your back, look ahead, make sure your shoulders are relaxed and there is no tension in your body. If you feel a little tense, try to do some…
No, these aren’t just for an exercise class! Because we use our bodies to sing, it’s important that we eliminate any tension we may have. So, try to raise your arms and reach for the ceiling as you inhale and exhale bending down, touching your toes if you can. If you feel comfortable, bend over, hold your elbows and swing from side to side. Next, stand up and look from side to side, followed by some gentle head rolls. Some simple stretches will also help you feel more relaxed.
Simple Breath Warmups
Now that you’re feeling relaxed and ready to move on to our selection of best breathing exercises for singing, let’s start off with simple breathing techniques. Place one hand on your chest and another on your tummy. Take a deep breath in, trying to push the air down to your tummy and lower lungs and exhale slowly. Ensure your chest and shoulders stay still and relaxed as you breathe in and out. Your belly should expand with each inhale and flatten with each exhale.
Once you feel comfortable with this breathing exercise, add some lip rolls. Don’t add any sound just yet – simply roll your lips with each exhale. This will help to relieve any tension in your jaw and mouth.
You can expand on the above breathing exercise by exhaling with a ‘tsssss’ or ‘shhhh’ sound. This variation will start to engage your diaphragm more as you continue to warm up. When you’re ready, you can also try a quick, short sip as you breathe in and exhale with a hiss. This challenges your breath control even more and it’s perfect to try and get as much air in as possible between phrases when you won’t have as much time to breathe in slowly.
To expand on the ‘sips’ breath exercise, try to take 4 quick sips in and 4 short sips on an exhale. Then, move on to 8 in and 8 out, followed by 16 in and 16 out. To help keep you in time, select a song in 4/4 that has a reasonable pace and try this exercise in time with the track. Breathing along with music will also make the exercise much more fun!
Now that you have warmed up more, we can move on to some gentle sounds. Try a smooth, deep breath in and a long exhale on a consonant sound such as ‘z’, ‘j’ or ‘v’. Hold that exhale as long as you can and focus on keeping the sound consistent, without wavering.
Time Your Breath
One of the best breathing exercises for singing is timing your breath! This will help to build your endurance and stamina as you sing. To start, exhale all the air out of your body for 4 seconds, drawing your belly in. Breathe in slowly and deeply, for 8 seconds. Hold for 4 seconds and pick a note that you feel comfortable to sing, for example, middle C. Exhale on an ‘ah’ sound, singing that note and see how long you can hold it. Again, focus on keeping the sound constant. You can also practice it at different volumes.
To continue with this exercise, reduce your breathing in time to just 6 seconds and repeat all other steps. Next, breathe in for 4 seconds, keeping everything else the same. Lastly, exhale, inhale and hold for 2 seconds and see how long you can maintain the note. Write down your timings and revisit this exercise – you will see how much you will have progressed over time!
Other Tips to Help with Your Breath Control
Throughout all these exercises, always ensure your chest and shoulders stay still and do not raise them or create unnecessary tension in your body as you breathe. Over time, it will all become second nature and you will maintain the same technique as you sing, too. Staying fit and healthy and doing some exercise, particularly aerobic workouts and anything targeting your core will help build your endurance and improve breathing, even when you’re not practicing.
As you keep including the best breathing exercises for singing into your routine, you’ll notice improved pitch control, tone quality and vocal power. More advanced techniques like vibrato and tremolo will come much easier, and you’ll be able to access a wider range.
Another important aspect of breath control is learning where to place our breaths. As you practice for your adult singing lessons, think of the best spots in the song to draw your breath. You don’t want to run out of it in the middle of a word or in a place that ruins the flow of the song. Carefully thought-out breaths will lead to a much smoother performance and separates a professional from an amateur. You can listen to other singers to see where they choose to draw their breaths.
Learn with a qualified vocal coach
Of course, there are plenty more breathing and singing exercises to explore! Entire books have been written on that, but you don’t need to read them all – simply come along to adult singing lessons at S & C and we will pass on that wealth of knowledge directly to you. Our expert coaches specialise in working with adults and we want to help you unlock that beautiful singing voice that has always been inside you. We cover a range of styles, including, musical theatre, classical, rock, jazz, pop and blues in a judgment free and supportive environment. Our lessons are available at our stunning institute located at Gate Avenue, DIFC, Dubai.