Sing from your Diaphragm? What?

  • Author:Angie Arsenault

In the latest edition of the “Journal of Singing” (the official journal of the National Association of Teachers of Singing), voice teacher and speech-language pathologist Dr Deirdre Michael writes on the subject of vocal myths.

In this first part, Dr Michael adresses the myths surrounding one of the all mighty key elements in singing; breathing.

I admit that over analyzing our inhalation and exhalation during singing can lead to the problems of tension that we are trying to avoid, but the fact remains that it is very important to understand the role of the breath during phonation in order to properly observe and correct our own breathing habits.

I would like to share with you the main points in this article because all too often, I observe singers, including students of mine, who are still playing “battle of the breath” when it comes to singing.

In the said article, Dr Michael names the following breathing myths:

INHALATION MYTHS

Myth #1: We need to “feel” the air.
Myth #2: We need to work to get the air in; to inhale against a resistance.
Myth #3: The air pushes the diaphragm down.
Myth #4: Lungs fill upwards.

EXHALATION MYTHS

Myth #1: The diaphragm inhales and exhales
Myth #2: Abdominal muscles push out the air out.
Myth #3: The great panacea is breath support.

My all-time favourite out of these breathing myths is exhalation myth #2: Abdominal muscles push out the air out. Most often, beginner or untrained singers are already convinced that they must forcefully push out the breath with their abdominal muscles and this reflex becomes natural after a while. Breaking the habit begins with a better understanding of the role of breathing in singing and how to practice good breath management.

Next week, I shall follow up by addressing each myth listed above and attempt to give some tips on how to stay on the right path to an easy but effective breathing approach for singing.

See you next time songbirds!

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Dispelling Vocal Myths.
Part 1: “Sing From Your Diaphragm!” by Deirdre D. (“D.D.”) Michael
Journal of Singing, May/June 2010-05-25 Volume 66, No. 5, pp. 547-551

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