There are far too many singers who simply neglect how important breathing is for singing, oftentimes even talented singers who do not know how to properly breathe. This, in turn, will only complicate your life as a singer, your ability to breathe correctly while singing will dictate how good of a singer you can be, so never neglect it.
A proper breathing technique for singing is focused on improving how you inhale and exhale while you are singing. In addition to this a lot of breathing exercises put a lot of emphasis on control, the better you are able to control your breathing the better you will sing. The most common breathing techniques for singing are hissing, diaphragmatic breathing, bouncy hissing, and the invisible straw techniques.
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As a beginner singer, your first goal is to learn how to breathe properly, without this skill you will limit yourself a lot. Generally speaking, most beginner singers who do not take lessons skip this part entirely, then struggle later down the line because they do not even know the basics of proper breathing. The truth is that in order to become a successful singer you will need the proper breathing technique, and it is better to learn it sooner than later.
Without the proper breathing techniques for singing, you will not have enough airflow and air pressure which actually lets you sing. If you are a singer who has been in at least a couple of auditions you probably noticed that some singers go out of breath extremely fast. This is usually due to them not having a proper breathing technique but not always, if you want to know more probable causes for shortness of breath check out my recent article Causes of shortness of breath while singing ( 11 Most Common Causes ).
The good news is that learning how to breathe properly for singing is fairly easy, the bad news is that you will have to keep on practicing. The problem which most beginner singers face is that after learning these breathing techniques they simply do not practice them every day. This is just like singing, if you are a good singer but do not practice to get even better sooner or later you will notice that you can not sing properly anymore.
There are a lot of breathing techniques with tutorials online, however, not all breathing techniques will work for you or for your singing style. Some styles of singing do need specialized and even advanced breathing techniques which can be a challenge, especially if you are a beginner singer. My personal recommendation is if you are a self-taught singer then to experiment with some of these breathing techniques and find out which one is actually good for you.
Proper Breathing Technique For Singing
Proper breathing technique is crucial for singers to optimize vocal performance and maintain vocal health. Start by practicing diaphragmatic breathing, also known as belly breathing. Relax your abdominal muscles and inhale deeply, allowing your diaphragm to expand and your belly to rise. As you exhale, engage your abdominal muscles to provide controlled and supported airflow. Avoid shallow or chest breathing, which limits breath capacity and vocal control. Focus on maintaining a steady and consistent flow of air while singing, avoiding any tension or forced breaths.
Regular breathing exercises, such as sustained inhalations and exhalations, can help strengthen your breathing muscles and improve your breath control. Incorporate proper posture into your singing technique, ensuring that your body is aligned, your shoulders are relaxed, and your chest is open to allow for unrestricted airflow. Remember, mastering proper breathing techniques takes practice and patience, so dedicate time to developing this foundational skill that will enhance your singing abilities and overall vocal performance.
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Diaphragmatic Breathing Technique
It is vital that when you are using any of the below-breathing techniques is that you use your diaphragm. If you are a beginner singer who only now is making research on proper breathing techniques you have probably noticed that all breathing techniques for singers rely on diaphragmatic breathing. This is by far the best way to breathe while you are singing as it maximizes the airflow and your actual air intake.
The problem is that most beginner singers have a hard time with diaphragmatic breathing because their diaphragm isn’t powerful enough and it is not being properly relaxed. If you tense up while you are singing you are giving your diaphragm a very hard time to function properly, which will affect the amount of air you inhale and which will directly impact your ability to sing.
While you are using any breathing exercises make sure to put one of your hands on your stomach. If your stomach inflates while you are inhaling and deflates while you are exhaling then you are doing a good job and you are properly breathing from your diaphragm. As a beginner singer, there could be another aspect that might cause you some problems, which is that your diaphragm isn’t powerful enough to steadily release the air and this will result in faster breathing.
My recommendation is that you stick to diaphragm breathing exercises till your diaphragm is powerful enough to be properly used, and only then try out some of the more advanced breathing techniques.
Hissing Breathing Technique
If you have been to a conservatory or if you had lessons from a vocal coach then probably your first breathing technique lesson was hissing. While you are doing the hissing breathing technique it is vital that you focus on keeping your mind on the goal. With hissing not only do you strengthen your chest muscles which are vital for singing but you also let your throat and neck muscles relax. The easiest way to learn to hiss is by counting.
Count till 5 as you inhale, when you are exhaling do the same thing but this time do it while you are hissing. Once you get comfortable you can increase this number to 6-7 or even higher if you can. A more advanced form of hissing is to breathe in for 2-3 seconds and exhale for 15-20 seconds, this will mimic how your lungs will function while you are singing. Just do the same practice as before but limit the amount of inhaling the air and increase the amount of time you exhale.
Invisible Straw Breathing Technique
The invisible straw technique’s main goal is to increase your airflow control. Just imagine yourself holding a straw in your mouth, inhaling slowly, and then exhaling slowly with the same invisible straw still in your mouth. A good idea while you are doing this exercise is to incorporate some hissing or even humming while you exhale. Count how long can you keep up your humming and hissing, if it is around 5-8 seconds then you are doing a good job controlling your airflow but you can still get better.
Farinelli Breathing Technique
There are a lot of vocal coaches who teach the Farinelli breathing technique and some even claim that it is some kind of advanced and super effective breathing technique. However, the Farinelli breathing technique is almost the same as the hissing technique without the actual hissing. To properly do the Farinelli breathing technique my suggestion is to get a clock that shows the seconds, you can simply use the stopwatch on your smartphone for this.
Stand up straight and with your shoulders relaxed, inhale for 4 seconds, and keep one of your hands on your stomach to make sure that while you are using this breathing technique is that you are using your diaphragm. Once you inhale for 4 seconds, keep the air inside for another second, then slowly exhale for 4 seconds. Once you get the hang of it you should increase the time, to 6-8 seconds, just make sure that you do not hyperventilate if you are predisposed to doing that.
Bouncy Hissing Breathing Technique
This breathing technique is aimed at the harder parts of some songs. Oftentimes songs will have different types of pitches following each other in quick succession. For you as a singer to be able to properly sing these songs you will need to have a lot of air at the right time. This breathing technique is very similar to the hissing technique, with one exception, while you are doing the hissing sound you will have to incorporate some simple bouncing.
The bouncing is when you use your throat and neck muscles to interrupt the hissing for a split second so it will sound something like this hsss,…, hsss,…., hss and so on. As this is almost the same as the hissing technique you should follow the same steps. Inhale for 4 seconds, hold the air for 4 seconds, and then make the bouncing hissing sound for 4 more seconds. Once you got the hang of it you should decrease the period of time when you are inhaling and increase the period of time when you are exhaling.
Snatched Breathing Technique
The snatched breathing exercise’s main goal is to teach you how to inhale air in short bursts. As a singer you do not always want to inhale to the full extent as the tempo of the song will not allow you, this is why you should learn how to breathe in incrementally. The easiest way to do this technique is by inhaling and while you are doing this interrupt your inhalation for a split second. Keep on doing this till your diaphragm is fully expanded and full of air, now do the same while you are exhaling.
Some singers also incorporate counting in this breathing exercise, although that is a fairly advanced breathing technique.
Panting Breathing Technique
If you do not know what panting is then just imagine how a dog is breathing while it is hot outside. Panting is by far one of the easiest breathing exercises, although it is mostly aimed at beginner singers. Simply breathe just like a dog would do, but keep in mind that you have to make it slower in order not to hyperventilate. While you are doing this exercise you should put one of your hands on your stomach in order to see if you are using your diaphragm, if your stomach is not inflating while you are breathing in then you are doing it wrong.
Yawning Breathing Technique
Now you might ask yourself what has yawning have anything to do with breathing techniques. But if you ever focus on your body while you are yawning then you will find that yawning is actually a good breathing exercise. Whether you yawn voluntarily or not you not only inhale a lot of air but also relax your neck and throat muscles, just keep in mind that if you do this breathing exercise for longer periods of time then you might get sleepy.
Controlled Exhaling Breathing Technique
You as a singer will need to learn how to properly control how you exhale. While you are singing you probably inhale quickly and exhale slowly as this is how you properly sing. The below breathing technique will teach you how exactly you can achieve this. Inhaling is also important as your main goal is to inhale as much air as possible, this, in turn, will allow you to have enough air in your chest and lungs to exhale slowly and in a courteous manner.
As a side note, if you are one of those singers who use their chest for singing, rather than their diaphragm, my recommendation is to read my article and find out why you should sing from your diaphragm Singing from diaphragm vs throat ( Which one is better? ).
Controlled Inhalation Breathing Technique
In addition to controlling your exhaling, you also need to learn how to control your inhaling. Your main goal as a singer is to strengthen all the muscles which help you breathe properly, some vocal coaches will say that in order to control your inhalation you should inhale as fast as possible and exhale slowly. However, this is not the best method, especially for beginner singers. If you are a beginner singer then my recommendation is to inhale at a steady and constant rate and exhale slowly.
If you find yourself yawning that is a normal reaction of your body, just do not fall asleep. Do note that your main goal with the inhaling technique is to maximize the amount of air you can inhale, once you get the hang of it you should focus on doing this as fast as your body will allow it.
Your Singing Posture Can Be As Important As The breathing Technique
The proper posture for any breathing technique is by standing upright and having your shoulders relaxed, make sure that your back is fairly straight and you do not have a hunched back. This proper posture will allow you to inhale as much air as you possibly can and as naturally as possible, in a way that your body will not actually struggle to inhale and exhale.
If you are serious about singing and about having the proper posture for it then my recommendation is to simply place a book on your head, and walk around the room for a couple of minutes every day. This way you will be forced to stay upright in order for the book not to fall off your head. Propper posture will also allow you to develop a stronger voice, for more information check out my recent article How to develop a strong alto voice? ( In 16 Easy Steps ).
- Practice deep, diaphragmatic breathing where you engage your diaphragm to draw in air. This allows for greater breath control and support while singing.
- Maintain good posture and alignment to ensure optimal airflow. Stand or sit up straight, relax your shoulders, and keep your chest lifted to allow for unrestricted breathing.
- Release tension in your neck, throat, and jaw to allow for free and unrestricted airflow. Tension can hinder your breath support and affect the quality of your singing.
Why is proper breathing technique important for singing?
Proper breathing technique is crucial for singing because it provides the necessary support for vocal production, helps control the airflow, and enables sustained phrases. It allows singers to maintain vocal stability, improve vocal tone, and enhance their overall vocal performance.
What are some common breathing mistakes to avoid while singing?
Some common breathing mistakes to avoid while singing include shallow breathing, breath holding, raising shoulders or tensing the neck, and inconsistent breath control. These mistakes can restrict airflow, limit vocal range, and lead to vocal strain or fatigue.
How can I improve my breath control and lung capacity for better singing?
To improve breath control and lung capacity, practice diaphragmatic breathing by engaging the diaphragm, not just the chest. Regular exercises such as deep breathing exercises, breath support drills, and singing exercises that focus on sustained notes can help strengthen the breath control muscles and expand lung capacity.
Are there any specific exercises or techniques to develop proper breathing for singing?
Yes, there are specific exercises and techniques to develop proper breathing for singing. These include lip trills, straw phonation, humming exercises, and practicing sustained phrases while maintaining consistent airflow. Working with a vocal coach or taking singing lessons can provide guidance and personalized exercises to improve breathing technique.