There are far too many singers who imply 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.
There are several proper breathing techniques for singing like having a proper posture, using your diaphragm, controlling your exhaling, controlling your inhaling, hissing, relaxing your diaphragm, invisible straw technique, Farinelli breathing technique, bouncy hissing, snatched breathing, panting and even yawning.
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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 proper breathing techniques for singing, you will not have enough airflow and air pressure which actually lets you sing. No matter how talented of a singer you might be, if you skip this part you will struggle later down the line. If you are a singer which has been at least to 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 probably 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 tehniques 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 than you need to experiment with some of these breathing techniques and find out which one is actually good for you.
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In order to perform the below breathing techniques, you will need to have the proper posture. The proper posture for any breathing technique is by standing upright and having your shoulders relaxed, make sure that your back is fairly straightforward 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 than 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 ).
Use your diaphragm
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 which 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.
Control your exhaling
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 uses their chest for singing, rather 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? ).
Control your inhalation
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 your breath 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 than 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.
If you have been to a conservatory or if you had lessons from a vocal coach proably your first breathing technique lesson was hissing. While you are doing the hissing breathing tehnique it is vital that you focus on to keep your mind on the goal. With hissing not only you strengthen your chest muscles which are vital for singing but you also let your throat and neck muscles to 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 comforatble 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.
Relaxing your diaphragm
As a singer, it is vital that you sing by using your diaphragm. The problem s that most beginner singers have a hard time doing this because their diaphragm isn’t powerful enough and it is not being properly relaxed. If you mention 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 an inhale and which will directly impact your ability to sing.
While you are using any breathing exersises 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 than you are doing a good job and you are properly breathing from your diaphragm. As a beginner singer, there could be another aspect which 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 to try out some of the more advanced breathing techniques.
Invisible straw technique
The invisible straw technique’s main goal is to increase your airflow control. Just imagine yourself holding a straw in your mouth, inhale slowly and then exhale slowly with the same invisible straw still in your mouth. A good idea while you are doing this exercise 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 seonds than 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 which teach the Farinelli breathing technique and some even claim that it is some kind of advanced and supper 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, 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. One you inhaled for 4 seconds, keep the air inside o your 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.
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 muscle 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 tehnique 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 an increase in the period of time when you are exhaling.
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.
If you do not know what panting is than 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 for beginner singers. Simply panting 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 excersise 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 than you are doing it wrong.
Now you might ask yourself what has yawning 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. While you yawn voluntarily or not you not only inhale a lot of air but you also relax your neck and throat muscle, just keep in mind that if you do this breathing exercise for longer periods of time than you might get sleepy.
As a singer, you will have to learn the proper breathing techniques which will actually help you sing better. If for some reason you have never used these techniques than it is never too late to start to usee them, and I promise you that after just a couple of weeks you will see that these breathing techniques will make you a better singer.