Every voice lesson in my Atlanta studio includes breath work. Why? Because without breath you have no support, no sound, no VOICE. But because we breath all of the time, we take it for granted. It is so easy to underestimate something so basic. We all know how to breathe. And we use our breath when we speak, so that’s certainly no big deal either. We just do it. But in fact, when we try to deliberately use our breath it can suddenly feel like rocket science. And the simple fact is that the better you are at using your breath, the better you are at using your voice.
So singing lessons here in my Atlanta studio begin with how you breath.
Here is a simple voice and breathing exercise you can do at home. Lie down on the floor on your back, with your knees bent. Choose a carpeted area or use a yoga mat so you are comfortable, with your back resting completely on the floor. Put your hands (one on top of the other) on your belly, with the center of your lower hand touching your navel. Direct your breath towards your hand as you breath in. Let your breath go as you breath out. Notice that your belly wants to expand as you inhale and retract as you exhale. Let this happen, but don’t try to force it.
Now, place one of your hands on your chest as you breathe. You do NOT want your chest rising and falling, you want your chest and shoulders relaxed so that all of the muscles connected to producing sound are relaxed. When you try to stuff breath into your chest you are not getting any more power, all you are doing is tightening up your larynx and your throat muscles. Make sure your shoulders are relaxed back into the floor and as you breathe in, send your breath down towards the hand on your belly. To get an even greater sense of your natural breath, place a book on your stomach. Now breath into that book. Breath slowly and evenly, and feel the book as your breath makes it rise and fall. Focus your breath down towards that book, towards that stomach, towards your diaphragm. With your hand still on your chest try to breath deeply without allowing the chest muscles to rise. Don’t hold back on breath, just re-direct it.
Now inhale and lift the book with your stomach and hold it for about 5 seconds. Then lower the book slowly as you exhale. Repeat, 5 or 6 times, remembering to exhale all of your breath each time. Then hold the air out until you feel the need to draw breath in.
When you lie on your back like this your body is in a perfect position to breath. So even though you might not find yourself in too many situations where you are singing on your back, getting used to how it feels to breathe like this is important.
When I work with new voice students in my Atlanta studio I begin their voice lessons with this simple exercise in deep, diaphramatic breathing and then we translate it to standing and singing. Why? Because singing should feel good.
Voice lessons should feel good. Even though there is a lot you can learn about how to produce better sound, with more strength, better tone and perfect pitch, in the end, the better you feel, the better it sounds. So start with your breath and then take all of the steps, big and small, with your teacher to train your voice to be at its best. And if you are looking for voice lessons in the Atlanta area, come see me at my voice studio in Decatur.