Breathing Problems and
FAQ for Singing!

A lot of singers experience breathing problems when singing, like not having enough breath for singing, or not knowing how to take in enough breath to be able to sing well.



Here, I answer some of the commonly asked questions about breathing, as well as provide you with useful tips and advice on how to solve your problems when breathing for singing.

For those who wish to check out other singing tips and FAQ, do click on this link provided now. Feel free to also send in your questions about singing by using the ‘Contact Us’ Form that is provided for you on my website.

Ok, here are the various tips for breathing problems and related FAQ for your reference:

Question ONE:

Why is it that I always run out of breath when I sing?

‘Your Personal Singing Guide’ says:

There are various reasons why this happens. Firstly, you may not be taking in sufficient air for singing. Be sure to be using diaphragmmatic breathing, instead of just engaging in shallow or chest breathing when you sing.

To understand how to take in proper breaths for singing, check out my webpage on ‘Breathing For Singing’ to find out more on how to breathe properly and deeply so that you have enough breath to sustain your voice well.

A second reason contributing to this breathing problem could be that you are letting out too much air when you sing. This could be because your tone of voice when singing is an airy one, and your vocal cords are letting out a lot of air during singing.

To correct this, you may wish to understand how our vocal cords work, and also how to adjust your voice to make it more solid so that less air is used during singing.

You may also do some vocal exercises to train up your vocal apparatus and ensure that you produce good and healthy sounds that are not too airy when you sing.

Always remember that there are 2 factors contributing to a lack of breath when singing. One is the amount of breath that you take in, and the other factor is how much breath you use up when you sing.

Knowing how to control each of these factors will make for less breathing problems during singing!

Question TWO:

What is the diaphragm, and is it related to the ‘Dan Tian’ (丹田) that Chinese people always refer to? Are they the same thing?

‘Your Personal Singing Guide’ says:

The diaphragm is actually a membrane that lies just beneath your rib cage, separating your rib cage from the rest of the organs below the diaphragm.

When you breathe, your diaphragm actually contracts and flattens, allowing more space for your lungs to expand, and also causing a drop in air pressure in your body, causing air to be pushed into your body from the outside, and resulting in a breath being taken in by you.

This is an extremely natural process, and I always tell my students to feel that when they are breathing, they are actually relaxing their diaphragm downwards, and to also release their abdominal muscles so that the diaphragm can flatten. This will reduce the amount of breathing problems that beginners may have when they sing.

On the other hand, the ‘Dan Tian’ (丹田) that Chinese people like to refer to, is actually a collection of acupoints, or an energy source that is commonly believed to be in the region of the lower abdominal area.

This is why there is a misconception that the ‘Dan Tian’ (丹田) and the Diaphragm are the same thing, because they both involve relaxing and utilising the abdominal muscles in order for us to control our breath well for singing, and reduce the breathing problems we may encounter.

In truth, these are 2 different things altogether, and should not be confused or mixed up with each other.

For those who are interested to know what the ‘Dan Tian’ (丹田) is, you can click on the link provided here. However, the link leads to an article that is in Mandarin, so be sure that you can read Mandarin before clicking on this link.

Question THREE:

How much air should I take in when I sing, and how do I know if it’s enough?

‘Your Personal Singing Guide’ says:

You should take in sufficient air for you to be able to sing the songs that you want to sing, without feeling out of breath or feeling strain in other parts of your body.

If you find that you are unable to sing long phrases, or you are unable to sing songs without breathing very often during the song, then chances are you are making one of the two mistakes that are addressed in Question ONE above.

Refer to Question ONE and figure out which mistake you are committing, and understand how to correct that breathing problem.

You should also practice some basic breathing exercises to be sure that you correct any breathing problems that you may have during singing.

You should also be careful not to take in too much air, because if we draw in too much breath before we sing, we may have problems controlling that amount of air in our body.

To reduce the breathing problems that we may encounter, be sure to practise breathing in moderation.

Never breathe in too much air when singing, but always also make sure that the breath you take in is enough to support the phrases or sentences in your song.

To understand more about breath control when singing, click on the link provided here!

Question FOUR:

How do I know when to breathe during a song? I find myself rushing for breath and breathing at awkward points in the song sometimes.

‘Your Personal Singing Guide’ says:

Well, a general guideline would be for us to follow the sentence structures and melodic pauses in the song.

For example, sentences are usually divided into phrases in a song, and singers usually pause in between phrases. It is during these pauses that you may take in breath without sounding awkward.

Also, the melody of a song will sometimes have its own pauses, for dramatic effect, and also because of the structure of the melody itself.

If these pauses are suitable, you can choose to take in breath during these pauses so that you have sufficient breath to sing the next sentence well.

If you are still unsure of where to breathe, do print out the lyrics for your song, and mark down all the breathing points that you feel would be suitable for the song.

Then, try out the breathing points that you have marked out, and if they feel or sound awkward, try to breathe at other suitable points in the song.

Question FIVE:

How should I practice so that I can breathe quickly in between sentences or phrases in a song? I always find myself not taking in enough air between sentences, because there just isn’t enough time to breathe properly!

‘Your Personal Singing Guide’ says:

A lot of times singers have to breathe really quickly in between sentences or phrases in a song, and to be able to use that breath to sing the next phrase or sentence that follows.

Our diaphragm and abdominal muscles need to be really relaxed and flexible in order for us to be able to draw in air quickly and in a relaxed manner, without forcing the muscles unnecessarily and causing breathing problems.

Sometimes, singers even have to ‘snatch’ additional breath within a particular phrase, if we are running out of breath, or if we feel that we need additional air to finish up the phrase well.

One way we can practice this kind of quick breathing or ‘breath snatching’ is for us to practice gasping, as though we were shocked at something!

However, do be careful to practice ‘soundless’ gasping, and not the loud gasping that some of us do in our everyday lives. Gasping actually helps us to draw breath into our body quickly, so that we can use this breath to sing the next phrase in our song.

Another way we can visualise this kind of quick breathing is for us to relate singing to swimming.

When we swim, our heads are underwater and we are using up the breath in our body. However, when we come up for air, we usually breathe really quickly and sort of gasp for air in between our swimming strokes.

This sort of breathing is actually what we can practice for singing as well! Just imagine that the phrases in a song are our swimming strokes, and in between strokes we need to breathe really quickly, or else we may just drown!

This is why some people say that swimming is really great for singing, because it trains us to be able to control our breath well, and also trains us to be able to breathe quickly in between swimming strokes, and this can be related directly to singing.

If you also wish to understand how to have great breath support when singing, check out the link provided here.

Alright, I hope that these breathing tips have been useful and helpful in resolving whatever breathing problems you may have when singing.

Do send me more questions by using our Contact Us Page and let me know what are the queries or topics that you wish to clarify.

Make sure you get your breathing foundations correct before you move on to the more difficult aspects of singing! ;-p

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