We know we need to do it, but do you actually really know what this 'diaphragm breathing' is you speak of?!
It is the essential foundation to good singing and allows for a supported and sustainable vocal technique to last a lifetime. In my private classes today I went back to basics with all my students. We didn’t do much singing, instead, I mixed it up a little and asked them to explain to me why we do the exercises we do and how is it that they can now sing louder without too much effort?
Here are the 5 questions I asked each student today which is essential to understand when you start stepping into becoming your own teacher.
1. What are the three main reasons we diaphragm breathe?
A. To allow us to breathe in more air into the lungs. Chest breaths only fill the top half of the lungs wasting the bottom part of the lungs providing more breath for singing.
B. When we fill right to the bottom of the lungs, we are now able to use good supported breath with the diaphragm muscle.
C. Avoid the need to force, strain or rely on throat muscles to support the voice. Instead, you are able to Lift the Diaphragm Muscle to support High Notes.
2. How do your Vocal Cords work? They absorb breath, vibrate and create sound. Simple but surprisingly my students found it hard to explain the process because they just “do” and not really have had to think about how they actually work!
3. Do you use more or less breath to increase volume? The same amount of breath is required for your vocal cords to produce loud or light notes.
4. How does that happen? Your cords are muscles. They need to strengthen to withhold breath pressure created by vocal cords as you increase volume. The stronger they become, the more volume you can produce whilst still absorbing minimal breath.
5. Are your vocal cords open or closed when you are singing high notes?
Closed. Well actually, to the naked eye, they’re closed. They vibrate really quickly to make them appear closed. The reason why this is important is that your vocal cords need to be at this position to produce high notes. (imagine two strands of rubber bands alongside each other)...
You can force high notes by forcing them shut (shouting), using a lot of forced breath and tightening of the throat muscles; (this is the shortcut) ...
OR you can sing softly on the high notes (allowing the vocal cords to freely vibrate without hurting them) and slowly build the vocal strength (1 kilo at a time) to allow you to sing for hours on end without tiring or losing your voice.