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Foundation 101 | Part 1

Foundation 101 | Part 1

Welcome to the Foundation 101 complimentary singing course with Bohemian Vocal Studio. In this course you are going to learn how to support your voice with the foundation elements of singing, from diaphragmatic breathing through to vowel shaping right through to connecting chest and head voice. Singing itself is actually a very easy process of balance that builds over time, but learning HOW to do it can often be a struggle. This short course aims to simplify your understanding of how to sing while shortening your learning curve so that you can spend more time doing what you really love – singing actual songs.

If you have a question at any point, something isn’t working for you or you need some guidance, you are encouraged to leave a question or any feedback below – I’m here to help!

Posture

This first lesson will focus on the very first stages of learning how to sing, setting up your posture and engaging the diaphragm. Posture is easy to do, but just as easy to forget when you first start singing. Ingrain these steps as the first part of your singing routine and they will become a healthy habit. Healthy posture looks like this:

  • Head held high
  • Shoulders back and down
  • Chin parallel with the floor
  • Proud chest (wide ribs)

Practice these steps over and over until you can take them all in one step together. The stronger your posture, the stronger your foundation – I often remind my singing students that their singing voices will only ever be as strong as the foundation they have built it upon, it really is that important!



Breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing is the linchpin of a healthy voice. The diaphragm itself is a large, dome-shaped muscle that sits at the base of your lung cavity, between the lungs and the abdomen. When you set up a healthy posture, you allow the perfect atmosphere for efficient diaphragmatic breathing, which occurs when you engage the diaphragm – creating a negative space in the lung cavity which fills instantly with air – like a vacuum. This vacuum filled space is now full of pressurised air which can be used to initiate resonance when you achieve vocal fold closure (bear with me!). Now, the diaphragm itself is an involuntary muscle which depends on adjoining musculature and the right thought process to be utilised correctly, so here are a number of ways that can help you develop diaphragmatic engagement:

  • Imagine you are breathing through a small drinking straw – low and sharp
  • Lie on the floor with a book or mug on your stomach – make it move with your breathing only
  • Pant like a dog, getting slower and slower until you can control the diaphragm directly
  • Breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth

Remember, your chest should be proud and wide so that when you breathe, only your belly moves, not your ribs or chest. When you breathe effectively for singing, your shoulders and chest won’t move. Maintaining this wide rib position and ensuring continual diaphragmatic breathing is the key to singing with support.

Support

Breath support occurs in singing when you learn to balance your air flow and air pressure. In a supported tone, this balance is skewed towards more air pressure and less air flow, and in an unsupported tone, the balance is skewed towards air flow instead of air pressure. Maintaining support through your middle voice and up into the head range is key to building a consistent and powerful singing range. To breathe with support, you need to ensure you retain the healthy posture we set up earlier in this lesson, while also maintaining diaphragmatic engagement so that there is no collapse of the ribs and chest when you ascend in range or hold a phrase.

After this lesson, you should now be able to set up a healthy singing posture and engage the diaphragm for efficient breathing and strong support.

Remember, singing is a process of balance that occurs over time, so take your time with these steps and don’t rush. If you’ve signed up directly for this free singing course, you will receive the subsequent episodes over the coming days to your email (if not, you can sign up here)

If you have any questions about posture and breathing, feel free to leave any feedback or questions below!

Kegan DeBoheme is Bohemian Vocal Studio’s resident vocal coach and voice expert. He teaches professional singing and voice technique to students all around the world and enjoys providing tutorials like this one on how to improve your voice.

12 thoughts on “Foundation 101 | Part 1

  1. It is amazing just how much posture and breathing affects your singing. I can remember my early days of singing – always running out of air hitting high notes or just simply not able to hit certain notes at all. This course has been a great help, thanks!

    It occurred to me how important breathing and posture are after listening to an interview with Elvis Presley and how his singing coach got him to hit some of his really high notes.

    Great video and tips!

    1. Thanks Dani! Absolutely – support is key to building a powerful high range and keeping your voice healthy.

      Let me know if you have any other questions about your voice!

      k

  2. Thanks for this great course! I did not know there was so much to breathing. It’s great you’re teaching everyone the correct way that would help a person while they sing.

    Are there more exercises I can do to so that it no longer requires the steps or too much thinking?

    1. Hey Bobby! You’re welcome. Absolutely, I’m working on an advanced breath support course as we speak.

      You’re welcome to book a session with me when you’re ready to power up your breathing!

      K

  3. When using my diaphragm and all, when singing where should my focus be when trying to go higher in pitch ? on my diaphragm muscles and push out high notes? or on my vocal chords. I don’t know where i should engage without straining myself. Help 🙁

    1. Hey there!

      Absolutely not – you should be holding ‘in’ your air to sing, especially in your high range, not forcing anything out.

      You should breathe using your diaphragm, then focus your ‘resonance’ above your top teeth/towards your nose, and try to resonate freely with a ‘buzz’ and no pushing or strain.

      Let me know how you go!

      K

  4. I love what you have going here! This is an amazing site for those who would love to learn breathing control and taking control of their singng! WOW just wow i’ve always had a passion for singing and was a tenor 1 in high school. Had to audition for royal chorale which is a select choir group for my high school years. It was just a wonderful experience and here i am listening to you do classes on it online is just amazing man! Good stuff man Keep up the wonderful work!!!

    1. Thanks for the kind words Victor! I’m sure you’ll regain that Tenor range of your youth with my tutorials – Let me know if you have any questions about your voice.

      All the best,

      K

  5. Kegan:
    I am a late deafened adult who is working with a classical voice teachèr, much as you described your first teacher. Quite wonderful, but very traditional.
    I got my head kicked in with motorcycle boots, trying to protect a girl. My teeth are canted inward, so that I have to pull my tongue in to close my mouth. If I try to close my jaws without moving my tongue, my tongue is sandwiched between my teeth, with a little hanging over the sides, like an extra generous hamburger.
    I feel strangled when I sing, and I wonder if even trying is hurting my voice because my range is steadily decreasing so that G#3 is my top note. When I started lessons, my high end was already a problem, and I was hitting F#4.
    Do you know if such a physical abnormality might inevitably cause damaging strain?
    Finally, could you add captioning to your videos? Lots of older singers don’t hear as well as they once did, it is more common than people realize.
    And thanks for all the well written text and the absence of troublesome pop ups. Some pages I make a point of clicking nothing, this page, I will be sure to click everything every time. Thanks again for your time and effort.

    1. Hi John!

      As long as there’s no damage to the actual vocal mechanism, the only thing that would be effected is really your resonance, which in turn yes may lead to straining by incorrect vowel choice and how you’re able to actually shape the vowels with your tongue. I’m no expert on such issues, so I suggest to see an ENT if you think there’s a bigger issue at hand, but otherwise this sounds more like a technique issue to me.

      I guess the question I would ask is about your approach – are you releasing as you ascend, or holding on to your chest resonance? Are you placing the resonance, or is it in your throat? Are you shaping each of your vowel sounds and matching your tract width for each sound? There’s a whole raft of technique and finesse issues which will cause the problems you speak of, not just physical limitations you feel there may be.

      As a side note, the tip of the tongue, the back of the tongue and the root of the tongue can all move independently. You should be singing with your mouth open and tongue shaped accordingly to each vowel sound, so again I can’t see this being a real issue 🙂

      Let me know how it goes.

  6. Hi am trying to learn i surrender by celine dion i can hit the notes perfectly but there is one bit that is has a really long note near the end of the song, but i run out of breath a few seconds before the note finishes, how can i do the note without getting breathless?

    1. If you are supporting properly, your airflow will be limited in place of a proper balance of flow & pressure instead. A great way to think of it is focus ‘down and outwards’ as you ascend/as you hold a phrase. The idea is to stop your ribs from contracting as you release air.

      Let me know how it goes!

      K

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