How to sing from your diaphragm
Learning to breathe via the diaphragm is the cornerstone of good singing technique – if you’re controlling your airflow and air pressure properly by extending the diaphragm, then your voice will be clear, free, powerful and resonant. If you’re not, then you’ll run into all sorts of issues with strain and tension. Learning how to sing from the diaphragm starts with your foundation, posture and developing appoggio singing technique. With these 5 steps you’ll learn how to sing from your diaphragm.
Setting up your posture correctly allows you to control your breathing via extension of the diaphragm rather than contraction of the ribs and chest like often happens in speech. Lets get started with how to sing from your diaphragm!
Step #1 – Posture
Setting up your posture is the very first thing you should learn in proper singing technique, and it’s still the first step I take each day before I teach my students how to sing. A healthy posture will allow you to engage your diaphragm correctly so you can control your airflow and moderate your pressure in an even, controlled and powerful way. Setting up your singing posture is easy, you simply start with your head high, your chin parallel with the floor, your shoulders back and the final step of raising your sternum to allow a wide rib position.
This wide rib position is known as appoggio singing technique, and is the best way to ensure that control of your airflow is moderated by an extension of the diaphragm rather than your ribs and chest pushing our your air like bellows.
Step #2 – Engage your diaphragm
Once you’ve set up your posture, breathing from the diaphragm will be very easy. You can test this yourself by taking a deep and low breath – Do you feel your chest rise? If your shoulders and chest move when you breathe, then this is unfortunately not breathing via the diaphragm. Now, try it again while imagining you’re breathing through a straw SUPER quick – do you feel your stomach extend? Bingo, that’s your diaphragm extending and creating a ‘vacuum’ of air which you can use to create a powerfully resonant singing voice. Setting up your posture and engaging your diaphragm is the first step towards singing from the diaphragm, so make sure you set your ribs wide for appoggio singing technique and powerful engagement of your diaphragm.
Step #3 – Place your resonance
Placing your resonance correctly will only be possible once you’ve engaged your diaphragm and set up your posture correctly. Placing your resonance requires you to limit any excess frequencies that aren’t vibrating in an efficient manner. Often mistaken as Mask technique by even some of the best voice coaches out there, vocal placement is the removal of any unnecessary frequencies rather than focusing your resonance like you would for a Masque placement, so make sure your voice coach is teaching you how to place your voice properly to gain the most out of singing from the diaphragm.
Step #4 – Shape your vowels
Shaping your vowels with your tongue and vocal tract width will allow you to EQ the placed resonance that we’ve been developing while singing from the diaphragm. While we often pronounce our vowels in speech, we actually need to take a specific shape with our tongue and a specific width in our vocal tract to ensure proper and consistent resonance in each of our vowel sounds. For example, an AH vowel is with your tongue low and concave while holding a wide tract position, and an EE vowel is with your tongue UP at the back and a narrowed vocal tract.
Shaping your vowels in the right way will allow you to sing ANY song and any word with ease, so make sure your approach to singing includes vowel shaping and resonance tuning by way of widening/narrowing the vocal tract.
Step #5 – Develop your middle coordination
Once you have learned how to sing from the diaphragm you will be able to build coordination of your two main registers, chest voice and head voice respectively to create a powerful MIX coordination that is often known as middle voice. Middle voice will allow you to connect chest and head voice while building a powerful and beautiful singing tone.
Learning how to sing better is easy with Bohemian Vocal Studio. As the premier voice studio for online singing lessons reaching students all around the globe, Bohemian Vocal Studio have become synonymous with great singing and the most practical approach to singing technique. When you are ready to power up that diaphragm and build a healthy and STRONG singing voice, you can book a session with me today and I’ll show you how to resonate with POWER and confidence!
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.