Breath Support and Singing -
How Are They Related?
We all instinctively know that breath support is important for our singing. The question on everyone’s lips is: “How Are They Related?” Also, how do our breathing exercises aid us in our singing?
Basically, breath and singing are like food and our stomach. One can’t do without the other – our stomach cannot live without food, and food can’t be digested without our stomach.
In fact, we can’t sing without breath!
We need breath in order to vocalize even the slightest sustained word or note, and breath support is vital in helping us to produce a well-supported and stable sound.
(Because as we all know, our ultimate goal for practising these breathing exercises is to be able to sing better!)
Let us look at our basic breathing exercises, and draw a relation between the various exercises and the way we sing.
Do click on the various links provided if you need to revise the various breathing exercises previously explained in this website.
For basic breathing exercise 1 , we practised how to produce a sustained ‘ssss’ sound with our breath, controlling the volume and stability of the sound produced.
This is extremely important for our singing when we need to sustain a long note, for example when we sing an ‘AH’ for 10 counts, and we need to keep the sound stable and not shaky.
This breathing exercise also helps us to be able to vary our singing volume, by varying the amount of pressure we apply when we produce the ‘ssss’ sound. A slight increase in pressure in our abdominal area creates a louder ‘ssss’ sound, and when applied to singing, will create a correspondingly louder word or sustained note.
For basic breathing exercise 2 , we practised how to produce a LOUD ‘SSSS’ sound with our breath, teaching our diaphragm and abdominal muscles to withstand greater tension and pressure.
This is vital for our singing when we need to produce a loud sound, or when we need to sustain a high note, since our muscles need to be able to generate and maintain a greater amount of pressure in order to be able to produce and sometimes project that note or sound outwards to our audience!
One way for us to feel the tension required when we sing high notes is for us to try to lift up a PIANO with both our arms! Try it and feel the core muscles in your abdominal area contracting and becoming tense! That is the kind of tension that we would need to be able to support when we sing and project our high notes or when we wish to be able to produce a louder sound when singing.
As for basic breathing exercise 3 , when we practised how to produce bouncy and light ‘ssss’ sounds with our breath, that would be extremely useful to us whenever we need to sing fast songs, or when there are many words in a phrase, or when we need to sing staccato in a song. (Do check out the upcoming section on musical terms in order to understand more about the common musical terms used when singing.)
Basic breathing exercise 3 teaches our diaphragm and its surrounding muscles to be more flexible in their breath control and usage, and this is vital whenever we sing fast songs, or even light and happy songs, which sometimes require us to be lighter and bouncier when we sing!
This is in stark contrast to the slow love ballads that we may sing, which will require us to use more of the techniques taught in basic breathing exercises 1 and 2, where we sustain long notes, and also vary dynamics gradually from soft to loud and vice versa.
Ok! So, now that we understand how our breath support aids us in our singing, and how the various breathing exercises help us to vocalize better, we can move on to producing sounds with our voice!
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