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Beginner Singing Technique - Breathing for Singing

Updated: May 6

The rib cage of a singer

Singers do not, and should not, breathe the same way they do for singing that they do for everyday life. In everyday life, a singer uses only the upper portion of the lungs, in the image here it would be mostly between the shoulders. This is because you don't need your full lung capacity to function. When singing though, we want to get all the air we are capable of comfortably. What we therefore want to do is breathe "lower" in the body. To feel this, put your hand on your side like a cranky teenager putting their hands on their hips, but higher up to make sure you're touching ribs. Breathe in such a way that the bottom portion of your ribs expands. You should feel expansion in the front, middle, and back of your torso, but primarily in the ribs and less in the squishier parts below.

This kind of breath should feel "lower" than normal, but will most likely not feel as though you've taken in all that much more air. If you feel bloated or uncomfortable, you've probably overdone it. This "low," or often described as "deep," breath is how you should breathe for singing. Practice this by taking a few breaths and then trying to sing after. It shouldn't be too hard to be consistent with it. It becomes harder when you need to breathe quickly. Rarely in songs will you find that you have a full second to breathe, so getting the air in efficiently is crucial. Try singing a long phrase, breathing as quickly yet deeply as you can, and then immediately singing the phrase again. When you can do this without making a loud sound (gasping) but rather a softer sound of the air's movement, you are getting it. I've described it in the past as the sound made when surprised. A sound of air moving but without the tension of a gasp.

This is a basic introduction to something called "Appoggio Breathing." If you want to know more or learn the next steps, sign up for a free trial lesson or leave a comment below and I'll reach out.

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