If you are new to singing you have probably already made the mistake of focusing on singing from your throat. While the throat is also important for singing nut it is just a smaller piece of the puzzle. Established and experienced singers usually sing from the diaphragm, generally speaking, what makes a good singer is their ability to not only control their breathing but also to effectively use their diaphragm.
The difference between singing from the diaphragm and the throat is that diaphragmatic breathing is a lot less stressful for your body and you are less likely to injure yourself while singing, on the other hand singing from the throat is very punishing for your throat and you might develop vocal nodules which require surgery, especially if you sing from your throat for long periods of time.
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Often times beginner singers struggle with the high notes, and they tend to focus on improving but no matter how talented you are you will never be able to sing high notes successfully without using your diaphragm. While singing from the throat seems at the first glance far easier than controlling your diaphragm, in the long run, this throat singing will limit your performance. If you read my recent article How to make voice clear and soft? ( Fast and Easy ), you will learn how important the diaphragm is for your voice to sound good.
Singing from the diaphragm
One of the most important exercises for a new singer to master is the ability to properly breathe while singing. Singers who rely on their throats will not have the necessary airflow through their throats to produce a good singing voice. By singing from your diaphragm you will not only sound better as a singer but you will also limit the possibility of injury and inflammation of your vocal cords. The inability to sing from the diaphragm is often a beginner mistake if you are a beginner singer my recommendation is to read my article How to sing for beginners step by step ( 14 Easy Steps ).
If you find yourself often with inflamed vocal cords after singing just a couple of songs you either do not breathe correctly using your diaphragm or you force yourself way too much. Both of these can be detrimental to your performance in the long run. Most beginner singers when they first start out think that singing from the diaphragm is extremely difficult, this is mostly due to the overly complicated vocal exercises which some vocal coaches teach.
While it is easy for the vocal coaches to use their diaphragm to sing, but for beginner singers, it can be extremely challenging. This is mostly due to years of experience, but as I often said practice makes perfect and if you are serious about singing you should definitely focus on learning how to use your diaphragm for singing. The truth is that everybody is using their diaphragm to some extent while breathing and they are doing this unconsciously. For more tips and tricks on how to become a better singer, check out my recent article How to sing better ( Top 47 Tips and Industry Secrets ).
You as a beginner singer should start doing breathing exercises that mainly focus on using your diaphragm. While breathing using your diaphragm is easy, but singing from your diaphragm is a challenge in itself. Most singers pick up bad habits at some part trough their journey to become a singer, once they hit a wall it will be extremely difficult to pass the wall if they are not singing from their diaphragm.
The diaphragm is a membrane that sits right below your rib cage, when you inhale this expands and when you exhale it contracts. If you are not used to using your diaphragm for singing you will get tired fast after the first couple of breathing exercises or by singing a couple of songs while using your diaphragm. This is normal, the diaphragm membrane is not an actual muscle but the muscles of your ribcage control it.
Beginner singers do not have well-developed rib cages muscles and this is why they will hurt the first couple of times you use them, it is just like when you go to the gym and train an untrained muscle before, it will become sore. The good news is that this muscle soreness will pass in a couple of days as the muscles controlling your diaphragm will become bigger and stronger, at this point you will no longer feel any muscle soreness and you will be able to use your diaphragm for singing easily.
Diaphragm exercise for singers
First, you need to establish if you are using your throat or your diaphragm for singing. Go in front of a mirror and place one of your hands on your stomach and start singing, if you notice that your stomach is expanding and contracting while you are singing then you are singing from your diaphragm. If you notice that your stomach is fairly rigid, it hardly moves, and through your neck and head, the veins start popping out then that means that you are using your throat for singing. You have a lot of options to improve your voice naturally if you want more info you should check out my recent article How to improve voice quality naturally ( 10 Quick and Easy Steps ).
After you have established if you are singing either from your throat or from your diaphragm, it is time to make your diaphragm stronger to be able to push all the necessary air which you will need for singing. One of the easiest ways to strengthen your diaphragm is by lying down on your back, putting one hand over your stomach, and just simply breathe. You should do this breathing exercise once every day for 10-20 minutes for 2 weeks.
Do note that your main focus is to strengthen your diaphragm and keep checking your stomach if it is expanding and contracting while you are breathing. Do not inhale as much air as possible inflating your chest, focus on your stomach as with your chest being filled with air so does your diaphragm needs to be filled. Keep your breathing normal in order not to hyperventilate and do not force yourself.
Your main goal is to breathe as relaxed as possible and to reach a point when your chest is filling up with air so does your stomach inflate. After two weeks of daily exercise, your diaphragm should be strong enough so you can use it for singing, do note that for some people this might take longer than others, just take your time, and eventually you will master it.
Once you are comfortably breathing through your diaphragm it is time to add singing to the exercise, just repeat the same exercise listed above by laying down on your back and putting one of your hands on your stomach to check if your diaphragm is doing the work. Now all you need is to start singing, repeat this exercise also for 1-2 weeks every day for 10-20 minutes daily. Once you are comfortable singing in this position it is time to go in front of the mirror and start singing using your diaphragm.
If you have done all your daily exercises you will notice that your voice is much softer than before and you no longer gasp for air through the song as you did before. After a while, you will naturally sing from your diaphragm and you will no longer need to focus on it.
Singing from the throat
There is a large misconception that singing is made from the throat, while it does produce the sound it is nothing without the air which your body can exhale. If you have ever tried singing while you were sick you probably know what I mean, no matter how good your voice is if you do not have the proper breathing technique you will not be able to sing properly. The throat is a simple catalyst for your voice which has its power coming from the airflow.
If you are breathing in your chest and only using your chest for channeling the air through your vocal cords then you will lack stamina and you will go out of breath extremely fast. While singing from the diaphragm is beneficial to the body as it does not strain your vocal cords or put too much pressure on your throat, but singing from the throat can be detrimental as it can lead to inflammation, sore throat, and other complications.
If you have been using your throat for singing you your voice will feel hoarse and most of the time people will notice that you are forcing yourself to your limit. Singing from your throat especially while hitting high notes will inevitably lead to strained vocal cords, while your vocal cords will recuperate after a couple of days of rest but if you are singing from your throat on a consistent basis you might end up losing your voice for a couple of days, this should be your wake up call to learn to sing from your diaphragm.
If you are thinking which one is better, singing from the diaphragm vs throat hands down the singing from the diaphragm is the superior option. By singing from the diaphragm not only you can increase the volume of air you can use for singing but you can also avoid a lot of unnecessary injuries and complications which come with singing from your throat.