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Beginner Singing Techniques - Rib Suspension

A singer singing with suspension

Rib suspension is a less talked about part of singing. It is easy, brief, and not very complicated, but it is important.

After a properly done inhale, the ribs are expanded and the diaphragm is lowered. Suspension is simply maintaining the expansion and lowering as much, yet comfortably, as possible. The reason we do this is to keep as much air in the lungs as possible. Essentially, if the lungs "collapse" after breathing or during singing a large majority of the air is lost and a beginning singer will run out of breath very quickly.

One way to practice this is to breathe in well, check for proper expansion, and then breathe out on an /s/ sound like a snake. Try to keep the /s/ going as long as possible. Since the hiss will prevent air from leaving too quickly, you'll begin to feel your lungs fighting to remain expanded/lowered. Once you feel confident you can feel it, switch to an /u/ sound (like the word blue) and see if you can hold your ribs open while doing that. It may take a little more effort since the hiss won't be helping, but the /u/ will still be easier than most words. Once you're confident about that, see if you can get it to happen with a song with lyrics. Some will be easier than others, but the end goal is to be able to sing for a long time without running out of air.

Rib suspension has other uses as well, such as singing with power, and you'll want to know how to control these muscles. If you are going for a breathy tone, I'd still encourage you to practice suspension as it doesn't eliminate the airy quality but just gives more control over air. Need more help? Sign up for singing lessons with Milwaukee Singing Lessons or leave a comment and I'll reach out!

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