Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Breathing for singing
This week I'd like you to focus on your breath. Right now, wherever you are and whatever you're doing: STOP and take a good deep breath, filling the bottom of your lungs. Then slowly release the air - as slowly as you can. By doing this simple exercise on a daily basis you are doing yourself heaps of good. The following article briefly looks at the mechanics of breathing which I hope will help you when you're singing. Also, some basic exercises to develop your breathing skills.
Your voice is made up from three parts: An Exciter, Vibrator and a Resonator. Air flow originating from the lungs excitates the vocal folds. The vibratory component is produced by your vocal folds, the resonator part is manifested within the throat, nose, mouth, head and chest. Without the initial exitation voice production cannot occur. Fundamentally all voice consists of is vibrations (sound) on a column of air, which are shaped and modified by the throat, nose, mouth, lips and tongue into speech sounds. It is this process that produces speech.
Respiration (breathing) is the power source for vocal fold vibration. On expiration, air is expelled out of the lungs causing the vocal cords to vibrate. Efficient use of the voice depends largely on efficient breathing and breath control.
Breathing is analogous to putting petrol into a car, the petrol being like air. The more petrol in the car the more mileage you can achieve. The lungs are physically larger at the bottom as opposed to the top, however the former portion is not always used to its fullest capacity. It is important for the voice to be fully supported by sufficient air. Usually this process is under unconscious regulation.
The amount of air is only one component that will support your voice. More importantly, the way you utilise that air will have a great effect on the voice. Just as the amount of petrol in a car is not the only factor increasing the amount of miles you can achieve, the tuning of the motor has a larger role to play, i.e. your posture and co-ordination/ control over your breathing. If you were to try and take a deep breath when slouched in a chair you would find there is a great deal of resistance from around the upper parts of the chest as the lungs expand.
You may say your breathing is fine, that it has alwaysbeen the same before your voice was affected. This may well be true, but have your voice needs increased? Have you pushed your voice too much? Are you taking any drugs or medication? Do you have any breathing difficulties e.g. asthma? Has your environment altered? Have you had any emotional or social changes or stresses? It is within these periods that your voice is vulnerable.
Exercises to try:
1. Stand or sit in front of a mirror, and monitor your breathing. Pay particular attention to what you see occurring. What is happening to your shoulders, chest, and stomach area? Do any of these area move? If so, when and how? What do you feel? Is there any tension in the chest , neck, throat or arms? Where do you feel the air going to as you take air in? Are you taking air in mainly via the mouth or nose? Try using your hands to monitor your breathing mechanism. Place one hand on your upper chest and the other hand near your stomach or midriff.
2. Try the same exercise as 1. but lying down. Is their any difference? If so, what's changed?
i) Now put a book on your stomach area, as you breathe in through the nose, try to make the book move by letting the air fill that part of the lungs. Notice how the book rises as you breathe in and how it lowers as you breathe out.
ii) Try the same exercise using the same hand placements as in 1. Notice how your hand on your chest moves less than the hand on your midriff. If this does not occur aim to get more air down lower.
3. You may find breathing low becomes easier if you place your arms out straight to the side (as if you were trying to fly), and then slowly raise your arms (keeping them straight) above your head. Feel your back lengthen - you may feel taller. Now try to take your breath as low as possible.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
click No Boundaries to download