There are proper breathing techniques for singing that will support your voice as you sing, increase your lung capacity, increase vocal comfort, and stamina. Most people can sing, and some can become even better as long as they have the proper tools to enhance their skills.
Apart from the tools and techniques that will help you become a better singer, it would help if you also devoted time and effort to practice.
Your voice is your instrument when it comes to singing, which is why you need to learn how to use it properly before you can make music using that instrument.
Breathing While Singing
You might say that breathing comes naturally since you only need to inhale and exhale air without even noticing that you are doing it. However, natural breathing is different from the breathing techniques that you need for singing.
To breathe while singing is comparable to gasoline in your car because it will not function without the other. Your lungs must be able to provide a steady airflow that will pass through your vocal cords to create a sound.
We often hear that it is better to sing using your diaphragm. What do they mean by that, and what is a diaphragm, anyway? Technically, it's a muscle at the bottom of your chest beneath your lungs and heart that helps control the air coming out of your lungs.
There is no such thing as singing from the diaphragm, but it does help us control the air that we exhale, which is vital in good singing. That said, it is more appropriate to say that you need to use correct breath management to sing better.
What Is Breath Management?
Breath management is one way of supporting your voice by regulating the amount of air coming out of the lungs while ensuring that there is a constant airflow as you sing. Another way of describing breath control is by inhaling profoundly and quickly, then exhaling a long, slow, and steady breath while you are singing.
In singing, you need to have more breath energy and an extended breath cycle, especially when the song requires you to prolong your breath at a specific line. A good singer should learn these three breathing skills, namely: inhaling large amounts of air, quick breath intake, and exhaling regulated air. Always remember that effective breath management can safeguard your voice and protect it from overuse and strain.
Breathing Techniques for Singing
Learning breathing techniques for singing eliminates the risk of straining your voice and damaging your vocal cords. Here are some breathing techniques that you can try:
1. Controlled Breathing
You have to use different breathing techniques to exercise your lungs, diaphragm, and vocal cords if you want to get better at singing. Breath control is one of the critical aspects of good singing. After all, the flow of air that passes our vocal cords affects our pitch as well as the extent and intensity of the sound that you create.
Another vital aspect of singing is controlling the way you release the air while singing, so your voice stays steady the whole time. Learning breath control and managing proper breath support will resolve any issues you have on pitching, keeping your voice steady and holding onto notes longer.
2. Combined Breathing
One more breathing technique that aspiring singers need to learn is combined breathing, wherein you inhale using both your mouth and your nose. The air you take in through your nose will not be sufficient for holding on to the highest notes and long phrases in a song. Likewise, inhaling through the mouth will only dry your throat and strain the vocal cords, which can affect the sound of your voice. Breathing through the nose and mouth at the same time ensure that the throat and vocal cords are kept moist while giving the necessary airflow for you to sing better.
3. Diaphragmatic Breathing
Breathing through the diaphragm is what's popular in singing, which may sound hard and complicated but can be explained easily. One way to check if you are doing it the right way is to stand up straight with relaxed shoulders then put your hand on your breastbone before taking a deep breath.
If you notice a slight movement just below your breastbone, then you are breathing through your diaphragm.
In singing, when your chest rises as you inhale, then you are breathing incorrectly.
4. Steady Release
The steady release of air is a crucial aspect of efficient and controlled singing. Slowly releasing the air at a steady pace guarantees that you can finish the line of a song with the right pitch in one breath.
You can practice this technique by inhaling deeply through your nose and then releasing it through your mouth by making a hissing sound for five to 10 seconds.
Learning proper breathing techniques will significantly improve the way you control your tone and pitch as you sing.
Learning Muscle Control
There are other muscles that you need to control aside from your vocal cords, and these are the abdominal muscles, as well as your jaw, tongue, and throat muscles. They are the ones that control the depth and shape of your voice.
1. Abdominal Muscles
Having strong abdominal muscles will allow better airflow and breath control while you are singing. So, it is vital to strengthen your core and abdominal muscles in addition to increasing your lung capacity and mastering breath control.
The tongue is also a valuable tool when it comes to singing, even if most of us don't give much attention to it. Your tongue muscles are connected to your voice box, which may tighten the throat space if not placed correctly inside your mouth as you sing.
Your tongue should always be flat, broad, and out of the way every time you sing so that it won't affect your pitch, diction, and tone quality. You may get tongue-tied and twisted while singing if you don't have enough tongue control.
Start practicing tongue exercises while you are in front of the mirror.
3. Jaw and Throat Muscles
Some new singers tend to clench their throat and jaw muscles when singing complicated notes and phrases or when they are feeling tensed before a performance. This clenching may cause additional stress to your vocal cords, which will make you sound off-key.
When you practice singing, try doing it while smiling. Doing this will help your facial muscles, along with the jaw and throat muscles, to feel relaxed.
Put an effort to maintain that relaxed state to release the tension in your vocal cords so that you can sing better and with more control.
How to Release Tension
Tension or the feeling of being nervous before a performance can have a negative impact on the way you sing.
Here are some tips on how to relax before you perform:
Massage the tensed areas behind your neck, including the skull.
Tightly squeeze your shoulders while lifting it towards your head; hold it for five seconds before dropping your shoulders to relax.
Perform several slow neck rolls by moving your head from left to right.
Do some deep breathing by inhaling through your nose and exhaling through the mouth with a hissing sound.
Drink a tall glass of water at room temperature.
How to Protect the Vocal Cords
Proper breathing techniques not only help singers to sing better but also protect their vocal cords from damage due to strain and overuse.
Doing warm-up exercises before you sing is a must when it comes to protecting your vocal cords. Warm-ups are also crucial to prepare your diaphragm and the vocal cords in supporting your voice while singing.
Avoid activities that may strain your voice, like talking too much or singing when you have a cough and a cold. Drinking lots of water is also essential in protecting your vocal cords, so make sure to stay hydrated always. Avoid smoking cigarettes as it can permanently damage your vocal cords and your lungs. The chemicals in a cigarette irritate and dry out the throat, which can cause swelling of the vocal box or larynx.
Inflammation of the larynx may eventually cause hoarseness or complete loss of your voice.
You can read more about exercises for your vocal chords here.
Why Do We Run out of Breath While Singing?
Not knowing how to control the release of air is the main reason why you are out of breath even before you finish a song. That is why breathing management is the first skill that you need to master if you want to learn how to sing or be a better singer.
As mentioned before, air passing through our vocal cords creates the sound that comes out of our mouth. When we are talking, the vocal cords inside our larynx or voice box vibrate every time we speak as it allows the air to pass. However, that should not be the case in singing because releasing too much air as you sing will make you run out of breath fast. The amount of air you take in is not the issue; instead, it's the amount of air you release while singing that will make you lose your breath.
How to Increase Lung Capacity
The amount of air your lungs can hold impacts your ability to sing since it is one of the organs responsible for why we can speak and create sound. If you can maximize your lungs' ability to hold air, then controlling how much can pass through your vocal cords will be more comfortable.
Your lungs are part of the tools that you need to take care of, apart from your vocal cords, to become better in singing.
Below are some tips on how you can increase the capacity of your lungs so that you can sing better:
1. Cardiovascular Exercises
Try doing cardiovascular exercises to increase its endurance so that it can perform efficiently. Some cardiovascular exercises that you can try are walking, running, aerobic activities, cycling, dancing, and swimming.
These exercises include constant movements of the big muscles in your body, which will prompt the need for oxygen. When this happens, your breathing rate increases, which means that you are increasing your lung capacity as you inhale more air.
However, avoid over-exercising and only do these exercises for 30 minutes a day for at least four days a week.
2. Breathing Exercises
Another way to increase your lung capacity is by doing breathing exercises.
One example of a simple breathing exercise is to lie down and relax, take a deep breath, and hold it for 10 seconds before releasing the air slowly. You can do this simple breathing exercise every day for 30 minutes as a way of increasing your lung capacity. In addition, you can also check some yoga breathing techniques that will not only increase your lung capacity but also help control your breathing, which is essential in singing.
There's another breathing exercise that you can do while lying down, and it's called pursed-lip breathing. This exercise can relieve shortness of breath aside from developing your deep breathing technique.
Additionally, you can also play wind instruments if you want some respiratory workout.
In this article you can find more information on breathing exercises.
3. High-Altitude Training
The oxygen level in places with higher altitudes is lesser compared to sea level areas, which means that the air is thinner. The body generates more hemoglobin, a molecule in the red blood cells that carry oxygen, to make up for the insufficient oxygen supply. So, training in these areas is beneficial to your lungs and helps improve its capacity.
Aside from learning and mastering the correct breathing techniques, it would be best if you also focused on your posture, as it is instrumental in your ability to breathe correctly. Correct and relaxed posture while singing can also affect the way you control your breath.
Take a deep breath before you start singing, but make sure that the air is coming from the diaphragm instead of holding it in your throat, for this will strain your vocal cords.
Warming up before you start singing is also vital in preparing your vocal cords for the high and complicated notes in a song.
Always remember that to be a better singer, you need to put in a lot of effort and dedication in practicing and mastering the techniques that we have discussed. Thankfully, learning how to sing in this generation is easy, as there are a lot of free resources that you can find online.
You can check some of the best applications that we have gathered to help you enhance your skills and become even better.