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Sing with Ease: Best Exercises for Breath Support

Have you ever used a collapsible water bottle? I did, in an attempt to be environmentally friendly, but soon realized how flimsy they can be.

When water rushes in, it first fills the bottom, expanding it to its full shape. As you suck the water out, the bottle collapses completely.

Don’t be the collapsible water bottle.

Through breath support, you can remain open for air to pour into your body, not only creating less work for your instrument, but also making the process of inhalation quicker and more efficient.

Do you have problematic singing conditions such as:

Fatigue, bodily tension, & breathy sound?

Do you struggle with stamina, endurance, and pitch?

These common issues can be improved with proper breath support.

Be sure to download and practice the Breath Support Conditioning Exercises below, and use my Video Tutorial as a point of reference.

And always, always, always practice with proper posture.

For voice scholars & technicians, I will be speaking about Appoggio technique, giving only essential information for singers to begin incorporating it.

Let’s talk about normal, pedestrian breathing.

As you inhale, your diaphragm is engaged. It drops, causing the belly to expand. At the same time, your intercostal muscles allow for the expansion of the ribcage, particularly the floating ribs at the very bottom.

As you exhale, you swiftly release all musculature, allowing the breath to pour out of your body.

Take a moment to be mindful of your own natural breathing, without forcing anything to happen...

Breathe in over a count of 4:

  • Do you feel your rib cage (led by the intercostal muscles) expand?

  • Do you feel your belly (led by the diaphragm) expand? If not, don’t worry- this is common.

Breathe out over a count of 4:

  • Do you feel the rib cage and belly release, or collapse? Perhaps you feel the front of your body collapse slightly over itself.

To achieve Breath Support, actively counterbalance your body’s natural tendency to recoil into itself. I know... no big deal right?

Try doing the same exercise, but this time exhale over a "sss" sound. Try it in 4, 8, then 12 counts.

While you work your way through these exercises, keep in mind that you can always pause to adjust your posture, if you need a sip of water, or for really any other reason.

Exercise 1, Revving: Wake up the Diaphragm

  1. Put one hand gently on your throat, and the other on your belly.

  2. Take a full, relaxed inhalation, breathing into your belly.

  3. On the “vvv” sound, pulse like you are revving an engine.

  4. Pause. Where are you feeling movement? Your throat, or your belly?

  5. Do this exercise 1-3 more times, with the goal of having a belly that pulses out with the revving, and a throat that’s only movement is due the vibration of the vocal folds.

Exercise 2, Haw Vvv: Add Pitch

  • Please sing lightly. Do not obsess over pitch or tone. Instead, focus on carrying the sensation found in exercise 1 over to this sung exercise.

  • This is the first track. Follow along. You may check in with your hands on your throat and belly.

Exercise 3, Closed Sustains: Support through a Short Phrase

  • The next step is to maintain expansion through a musical phrase.

  • To be clear: When the body is empty of air, the diaphragm and intercostals must come in slightly. I have seen many singers over-breathe, and over-support.

  • As you sing a sustained phrase, continue to feel the sense of expansion from Exercise 1 & 2. Some singers like to feel that they are actually inhaling while singing. It is different for everyone, and that is where a consultation with a trained professional can help.

Exercise 4, Open Sustains: Expansion & Posture Between Phrases

This sense of expansion even applies to the space between your phrases! Trust me: it is far easier to remain open & upright than it is to expand, collapse, & repeat.

Come back to this practice again and again, and incorporate the techniques you discover to your repertoire.

Higher Voice Exercise Download

Lower Voice Exercise Download

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