How To Sing From Your Diaphragm
Singing from the diaphragm will allow you to better manage your air pressure, air flow and ultimately create a more resonant and powerful voice. Singing is actually a very simple process, but learning how to sing can often be a tricky task – with all the conflicting information out there and expensive courses promising ‘the secret’ to singing, learning to sing can often feel like swimming in murky waters. Remember, if something doesn’t feel right, or it’s not easy to do, then it’s probably not right, or you’re going about it in the wrong way. If you want to learn how to sing from your diaphragm, this tutorial will show you the best way to achieve proper breath support and sing with ease.
What is Diaphragmatic Breathing Singing?
The diaphragm is a large dome-shaped muscle that sits between your lung cavity and your abdomen. With the ability to expand and create greater space in the lungs, diaphragmatic breathing singing is the best way to manage your airflow while singing with a resonant and powerful sound. You already use your diaphragm without realising, from sneezing and coughing right through to laughing, the diaphragm is an important muscle that enables efficient breathing and allows you to use your vocal mechanism in the best manner for singing.
If you can laugh from your belly, like “Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha”, then you are already in control of your diaphragm. Think about how a shopping center Santa Claus would laugh from the belly “Ho Ho Ho Ho Ho”, each “Ha” or “Ho” involving a movement of your diaphragm – singing is no different.
The first step in diaphragmatic breathing singing is to set up your posture in the right manner. Great posture in singing as achieved with a high head, shoulders back, chin parallel with the floor and then a naturally widened rib space, often referred to as Appoggio singing technique. When you take this posture, you don’t allow your ribs to contract as you exhale, meaning that your breathing is controlled solely by the expansion of the diaphragm and the manner in which you moderate your air flow and air pressure.
How to breathe when singing
To breathe when singing in the right manner, you first need to engage your diaphragm, just like we discussed with the “Ho Ho Ho” example above. A great way to do this is to imagine breathing through a very small drinking straw – no doubt you will feel your belly expand when you do so. Now, as you sing, you simply need to recreate the motion you used when you tried to laugh from your belly – if you learn how to breathe when singing in the right manner, you will be able to sustain long phrases and sing tricky vocal lines with ease. This is called Support.
Breath support exercises
Supporting your voice properly while singing is a process that develops over time. The best breath support exercises actually involve your whole singing mechanism and really need to start with your posture. A great place to start is the free foundations short courses here at Bohemian Vocal Studio which will show you how to set up the most efficient breathing foundation to build a powerful voice on top of.
One of my favourite breath support exercises is what I like to call “5 in, 5 out” and involves toggling your breathing between your nose and mouth (coincidentally helping you build control over the soft palate too) and exhaling in an incremental fashion from one to five, or even more as your breathing progresses.
Great singing should almost feel as though you are singing without air and that your voice is ‘stationary’ rather than being blown out of your mouth. The best breath support exercises like my 5 in, 5 out exercise will allow you to sing with the perfect amount of airflow vs air pressure, while also keeping your voice healthy, safe and resonating in a powerful manner.
When you’re ready to take your voice to the next level with professional voice coaching, you can book a Skype Session and we’ll get started developing your voice so that you can breathe efficiently and build a powerful singing voice!
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.