Effective Breathing Exercises for Singers!
These breathing exercises for singers will help you to master and transform your voice. Your lungs are the engine that power your voice. To enhance your voice, you must train your lungs and master your breathing — maintaining daily breathing exercises will provide the best results. Below we take a look at the most effective breathing exercises for singers to help transform your voice:
Why breathing exercises are important for singers
Listening to a world-class pianist, we tend to think about the countless hours of hard work that went into a performance. And yet, when we hear a beautiful voice, we often put it down to talent.
Vocal training goes largely unnoticed, but even the most accomplished singers work with teachers and coaches to develop their craft.
Whether in the studio or on tour, Ariana Grande is never without her voice coach, Eric Vetro, whom she calls her “favourite person”.
As much as they may appear to be gifts from nature, even the iconic voices of Mariah Carey and Celine Dion are the result of disciplined exercise.
Breathing exercises for singers and breathing drills are the fundamental way in which professional singers develop and protect their voices.
It’s all in the belly — breathing exercises that work
The voice is produced in the larynx — the ‘voice box’ inside your throat. This houses the vocal cords, which are two pieces of stretchy membrane. As you breath air in and out, the cords remain wide apart.
To create sound, they come together and the air pushed out from your lungs causes them to vibrate, much like the way that violin strings vibrate under a bow.
It is easy to assume that the larynx is the most important organ in vocalisation (making sounds to speak or sing), but the whole process starts in the lungs.
Your lungs are the engine that powers your voice and this process is controlled by the diaphragm and abdominal muscles — which is why you may have been told before to sing from your stomach.
Although some vocal coaches argue that humans can’t consciously control the muscles that participate in breathing, breathing exercises and breathing drills are proven to give you more power, tonal accuracy and a greater dynamic range.
Even simply increasing your lung capacity can be a game changer. And, while it’s always a great idea to work with a professional, with dedication and patience you can go far on your own.
The most important breathing drill for singers
Before proceeding to more advanced or time consuming exercises, start with just ten minutes a day — five in the morning and five in the evening.
The goal of this simple exercise is to increase your breath control and prepare you to make the best use of your body’s natural resonance.
- Start seated or lying down with your knees up and feet flat on the floor. Put one hand on your stomach (on the front of your body) and one on your ribs (on the side), both higher than your waistline.
- Push all of the air out of your lungs and then start inhaling slowly and steadily, counting to ten (aloud or in your head). Feel the slow, gradual expansion of your rib cage — keep your hands on the body to be more aware of this process.
- Then, exhale for a count of fifteen while making a hissing sound as if you were saying the letter “s”. Aim to make the breathing as smooth as possible and avoid gasping for air when you breathe in.
- Repeat the cycle ten times and don’t worry if you feel dizzy at first!
Watch a short video with vocal coach, Cari Cole, demonstrating the exercise.
Use horizontal breathing to release tension in the diaphragm
We were all born breathing well, but for the vast majority, a sedentary lifestyle and stress can lead to incorrect respiratory patterns.
Every singer must unlearn these poor breathing habits and go from, so-called, vertical to horizontal breathing, a powerful breathing exercise for singers, to bring out the best in their voice. Also, this horizontal breathing technique has more benefits for the body and mind than just a beautiful voice.
Vertical breathing is characterised by your chest and shoulders moving up with every inhalation. In horizontal breathing, the whole abdomen and rib cage expand outwards, allowing for much more air to enter your lungs.
- To help release all unnecessary tension in the diaphragm, get down on your hands and knees and let your belly hang loose towards the floor. Like in the previous exercise, make your exhalations longer than inhalations.
- As you breathe in, focus on keeping your shoulders still and allow your abdomen to freely expand. Then, slowly suck your belly button up to exhale.
These simple breathing drills for singers are a great way to better your voice. You will quickly improve your vocal ability and build a solid base to take it to new heights.
We hope you enjoy practising these breathing techniques for singers. What techniques and breathing exercises do you use to improve your singing voice. We would love to hear about them in the comments below.