Welcome to Bohemian Vocal Studio’s Support Booster Course. In this premium course I will show you a practical step-by-step process for developing breath support in your voice. This booster course will share some of the most powerful support and breathing techniques and concepts along with specially tailored support exercises that with practice over time will allow you to sing with a powerfully supported voice that is as resonant as it is relaxed.
Booster warmups are intended as an addition to the Foundation and Growth 101 singing courses or personal coaching with Kegan here at Bohemian Vocal Studio. You can also join as a basic member to use these booster warmups and tools like the vowel translator – but do keep in mind all the ‘meat and potatoes’ information and tutorials are contained within the Foundation 101 singing course, which I recommend you start with.
Support is simply a fancy term to describe the balance between air flow and air pressure when you sing – achieving support in singing results in powerful resonance and a very comfortable and relaxed voice. Are you ready to support your voice? Lets get started. If you’re a premium member, you can log in below – otherwise, you can join us to access the premium booster courses here.
Lesson 1. What is Support
Support refers to controlled inhalation and exhalation when you sing. With a very focused and controlled release of pressurised air, you will achieve a very consistent and sustainable vocal tone that is rich, powerful and comfortable. Support really starts in your posture and approach to diaphragmatic breathing, so lets get started with the foundation elements of support and diaphragmatic breathing first before we get down to business with a powerfully supported voice.
Healthy posture in singing looks a little something like this:
- Head up
- Shoulders back
- Chin parallel with the floor (looking straight forward)
- Ribs wide
This final step of widening the ribs should naturally occur when you engage the diaphragm using one of the following methods:
- Imagine breathing through a small drinking straw, low and sharp
- Lie on your back with a mug or book on your upper abdominals – make it move using only your breathing
- Reverse hiss – suck in air through an “S” sound at the lips
- Pant like a dog getting slower and slower until you can control the muscles
Over time you will no longer need these anologies to engage the adjoining diaphragmatic musculature, but for now, take your time and go through each one carefully until you can identify how to engage your diaphragm effectively without using your upper chest or your lower stomach. Instead, the breathing should occur in a muscular fashion around your mid section as though there is a tyre suspended around your sternum, or there is a basketball underneath each of your arms.
By retaining this healthy posture and ensuring your breathe from your diaphragm, you will fast track the process of developing a supported voice. Remember, support is a process of balance, not a magic ‘switch’ for a full sounding voice.
Lesson 2. Breath Support Exercises
My favourite exercises are centred around the controlled exhalation of air rather than any tricks or abstract instructions like “paddle like a duck” – by physically training yourself to withhold the release of air in place of air pressure by way of diaphragmatic extension, you will build the most efficient and consistent voice possible.
One of my favourite breathing exercises is the concept of “five in five out” where you breathe in using controlled inhalations through the nose and exhale the same amount of times out of the mouth. This same exercise can be taken up another level by adding in a silent lip trill or a “Leaky Tyre” SSS sound and doubling the amount of time taken for your exhalation. By training yourself to develop micro-inhalations like I’ll show you in the following video, you will be able to maintain endless and cyclical support that is never lacking for air or consistent pressure.
Now, these exercises will improve drastically over time – so it’s important that you start light and remember that the central focus of these practice tools is to retain support. Don’t worry too much about the vowel or tone or now – we’ll adjust your vowels in the Vowel Booster course. For now we simply want to achieve consistent and controlled support of airflow and air pressure when you practice.
I’ve illustrated the first set of these exercises in a light manner for you while you’re learning, but you can support more and more over time as your confidence and prowess grows. The second portion of this video will show you my favourite tool for achieving support in a practical manner by way of ‘pulling down’ as you ascend – powerful support is the key to great singing, make sure you use it wisely.
Remember, support is a process of balance that occurs over time with practice and training – don’t treat it as a ‘switch’ that is simply on or off when you sing. Too much support and pressure will create strain, and too little support will result in a weak and breathy tone. Belting and support are actually two very different techniques, and while they do work in tandem when you are belting, you are not exclusively belting when you support your voice – learn the difference and your tone, range and ultimately your vocal health will thank you!
Use this backing track to practice the exercises we discussed above:
I’d like to leave you with two important lessons I’ve personally learned about support over the many years I’ve been coaching and personally as a singer. Many singers get caught it the trap of associating “clenching” or “pushing” with support, when in fact support is the result of both resistance and recoil. Advice like “Support feels like going to the bathroom” really does nothing but muddy the waters further for those really looking to improve their voices. Remember, if it doesn’t feel right, and it is easy – you’re not doing it correctly.
Conclusion and Support Examples
Support occurs in your voice when you learn to balance air flow and air pressure in a controlled way. With practice and perseverance you can build a powerfully resonant voice that connects fully from your lowest note and up higher than you could have ever dreamed of. In closing, I’d like to share two important key points that have personally helped me along my own journey of learning how to sing. The first is that lung capacity has very little to do with diaphragmatic support – you don’t actually need very much air when you sing, you simply need to control the air that you retain in a consistent and balanced fashion. The best way to achieve balanced support is actually to top up your breathing incrementally as you sing using “micro-inhalations” like I showed you in the earlier lessons in this course. Secondly, release is key to almost every aspect of singing – remember the final exercises I showed you earlier in this course? Being able to release fully into a supported head tone from your mix is paramount to a healthy and powerful voice. If you’re hitting a “ceiling” in your voice, you’re actually suffering from an imbalance either in your registers or in your ability to support.
I’ll leave you with an example of supported singing in the following clip. Can you identify which BVS support techniques and tools I’m using to access a balanced and supported high range without necessarily belting? Let me know in the comments below or in the video comments which ones you can hear!
If you haven’t already signed up for our Foundation 101 singing course, it really is a best place to start building a powerful and rock solid foundation for your singing voice. Foundation for singing really is like the foundation of a house, the rock solid slab that your range and tone are built upon. When you’re ready to take your mixed voice singing to the next level, you’re welcome to book a Skype Session with me and we’ll work towards extending your range and developing a blend of resonance in your middle voice.
If you have any questions about the middle voice booster or how to sing in mixed voice, you’re welcome 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.