The BEST diaphragmatic breathing exercise
Learning the right diaphragm breathing techniques can be confusing – there is so much conflicting information out there, and so many metaphors for how you should breathe diaphragmatically, but very few instructions actually showing you HOW to breathe properly and practical diaphragmatic breathing exercises.
First up, you should start with posture (you can sign up for my free short course on posture and breathing here) – head up, shoulders back and sternum ‘up’ so that your ribs widen. Secondly, you need to engage your diaphragm rather than breathing ‘into’ it, you see, the diaphragm actually does all the work when you breathe diaphragmatically with a simple extension lower into your abdominal cavity.
The best diaphragmatic breathing exercise – one of my favourite diaphragmatic breathing exercises is what I call “5 in – 5 out”. The premise is, starting with a healthy posture, you gently build up your breathing with diaphragmatic steps from 1 to 5, in through the nose once, out through the mouth once, in through the nose twice, out through the mouth twice and so on until you’ve reached five.
The trick, is that your shoulders and chest should actually stay stationary rather than rising as you breathe in – with proper diaphragm breathing it should be lower in your belly and not high in your chest. I’ll show you in depth in my free short course, but it’s really pretty simple – just imagine that you are breathing in slowly through a very small straw. This will restrict the airflow and force you to engage the diaphragm – eventually you will learn the muscular movement of the diaphragm instead of the feeling of ‘inhaling’, leading to better breath support for singing – all other breath support techniques like appoggio, inhalare la voce and compression all hinge on how well you engage the diaphragm.
Here’s a super simple video I recently put together taking you through all the steps you need to build your diaphragmatic support.
Once you have learned how to sing from your diaphragm, you will find singing MUCH easier, and likely feel an increase in your vocal range.
Now, the secret to increasing your vocal range lies in two techniques that are often shrouded in marketing secrecy; Middle Voice, and Vowel Tuning (aka vowel modification).
The first, Middle Voice, or as it’s commonly known “Mix Voice” is a gradually ‘zipping’ of your vocal chords as you ascend in range, allowing you to bridge your chest voice and head voice registers. Without a proper approach to middle voice, you will likely find a big disconnect in your registers, and suffer from vocal fatigue and hoarseness as you throw more and more pressure at your ‘locked’ vocal chord coordination. Thankfully, learning how to sing in middle voice is REALLY easy, and definitely isn’t the huge mystery it’s made out to be – If you imagine a simple ‘projection’ of your sound back towards yourself as you approach your first vocal break (around a D4 for most guys), you’ll find that your voice connects much easier – this is because you’re allowing your chords to move freely instead of locking them in chest voice, or worse, ‘flipping’ up into headvoice. Here’s another video I’ve put together on accessing your middle voice:
Now that you’ve learned how to get a stronger diaphragm, and also sing up into your higher range using middle voice – it’s time to POWER UP your voice by tuning your vowels to your individual voice type and natural resonance. When you’re ready to take your voice to the next level, you can book a session with me and I’ll show you exactly how it’s done!
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.