How can I control my Breath When Singing?
As you know breath control is crucial for great singing because without it, the throat would lock up, and the vocal folds would have nothing to get them pulsing to make sound. So how can I control my breath when singing a song?
By monitoring the breath in different parts of your body and by using a lip roll (lip trill) to establish a balanced amount of support for singing. This will teach your body to use the right amount of breath control for every note in your song.
Check out the video on the right (Sing any song better Instantly) as this demonstrates what I mean.
You should also use your hands to help monitor the support that’s felt when you lip trill so as to be able to copy this when you sing.
Also by knowing when to breath and learning to breathe little and often when singing a song. Always breathe in a pause at the end of a line or in a line. Never over breathe just take enough otherwise you will close your throat.
Breathing is about balance
It’s important to remember that to over breathe is just as bad as not breathing enough. You see it’s all about balance. To much air at the beginning of the sound will make you airy and pitchy. This will also help the throat to close (which we don’t want) and the vocals to get agitated.
Not breathing in enough air will make you feel like you are running out of air before you’ve even started making you gasp. This puts your body in a survival mode which creates a lot of stress in the body. You will hear this stress in the voice.
Working on conditioning the breathing muscles and letting the breathing responded to the will of singing as opposed to being controlled to directly is the game that we all play. It is something that you always need to come back to for a bit of a tune up.
When the balance is right, then the singing is responsive and sounds amazing
An Example of Responsive Breathing
Let me give you an example of what I mean. When you get angry, and you shout at someone. Do say wait a minute as I sort out my breathing so that I can project correctly? No! You’re angry, and the body (breathing muscles, vocal folds, resonance, articulation) responds to that emotion, and your project perfectly.
As you can see from this example, we need to condition the breathing muscles so that they can respond. I have a couple of exercises on that in my “Breathing Exercises For Singing” article. But we also need to make sure that the vocal folds are doing their job at the other end.
If the vocals are to breathy, then air will escape past them, and you will run out of air quickly. In my experience often singers blame breathing asking How can I control my Breath When singing?
Actually what they should be asking is how can I get a focused sound from by vocal folds. As the fault (at least in part) is often down to the vocal folds not having enough vocal squeeze (glottal compression). So it is worth looking at that first.
Sing a song as far as you can on one breath and while you do this note how long you last. Now say the word BE as many of them as you can fit into the same amount of time.
Like this: BEBEBEBEBEBEBEBEBEBE
Did you find you lasted longer on the BE exercise than you did on the singing? If you did then your singing was a little to breathy.
Breathe as often as you can!
So when you are singing a song it is really important that you breath whenever you get the chance too. This will really help your breath control. Far too often a singer will breathe in too much air. They then expel that air really quickly at the beginning of sing resulting in a pitchy start to the singing and the still run out of air quickly. As before it’s all about balanced breath control.
Good places to take a breath would be at the pause in the song line. So where ever there is a full stop, comma.
SHOULD YOU BREATH THROUGH THE NOSE OR MOUTH WHEN SINGING?
Always try to breath through the nose as this is what it is designed for. Air is moistened and cleaned when it goes through the nose as opposed to the mouth. Nose breathing also encourages a deeper breath.
If you are singing a song and there are very short pauses between the lines then you might have to breath through the mouth but often a little sniff is all that is needed to keep you going. If you have to breath through the mouth then make sure that the inhale is silent as the noise is often the vocal folds slightly blocking the air from flowing into the lungs this results in cold dry vocals for singing and not enough air!
Remember, although the breathing for singing is important it is just as important to have balance with all the parts of singing, like the vocal folds, resonance and articulation. When they are all in balance you will have a free natural sounding voice that people will want to listen too.
What parts of the body Do I monitor for breathing?
The first thing that goes hand in hand with good breathing is good posture (Here is my article on good posture for singing if you need it). If you have good posture already then you need to use your hands to monitor your breathing muscles.
You use your hands to monitor the following areas:
- lower back (Lumbar area)
- sides of the waist ( above the hip bones just below the lowest ribs)
- lower belly (below the belly button)
- upper belly (above the belly button just below the sternum)
Also use your hands to monitor the chest position for correct open chest posture and a mirror to watch your body posture (especially look out for the shoulders lifting up and down as you breath).
I have an article on this breathing monitoring process where I go into detail on it why not check out breathing exercises for singing to learn that breathing monitoring process and a couple of exercises that will really help you to get an even exhale which is essential for good singing.
So I hope that I have answered your question How can I control my breathing when singing?
If there are any areas you wish I had given more details on then please feel free to get in touch with me. You may also be interested in my 4 great vocal techniques to get your voice going!