Thursday, December 15, 2011

Singing Lessons - How to Improve Your Breathing Technique

I've reviewed quite a few learn-to-sing CDs and one thing a lot of them seem to have in common is the lack of in-depth information on breathing technique. There's so much detail about breathing properly in order to sing properly that I feel is key to developing a great singing voice. I want to address this element of singing - beginning with this article. As a vocal coach I always tell my students, if you open your mouth to suck in that breath gradually as you drop the jaw, you will sing that way -- correctly. It's about developing a new habit and dispensing with old. There is a direct connection between opening your mouth to sing and opening your mouth to breathe. Get the breathing bit right, and you'll be singing like a pro in no time. This article will explore the pros and cons of breathing technique to help you not only sing better, but also sound a heck of a lot better than you ever did. It's all in the breathing.

Try stifling a yawn right now -- genuinely, whilst looking at yourself in the mirror. Notice the way your jaw drops. Now that's how you're meant to breathe when you sing. In through the mouth as you gradually drop the jaw. If you could create a breathing exercise where you breathe in through the mouth, as above, to the count of eight beats (put a piece of music on); hold your breath for eight beats; and then slowly exhale with a hiss (controlled) to the count of sixteen beats, and you're half way there. But do it properly, using the yawning example above.

As a vocal coach I always tell my students, the way you breathe is the way you're going to sing. If you breathe incorrectly, you will sing incorrectly. Here's a very simple example: With your teeth separated just two inches apart, try holding a note with the vowel "A" for several seconds. Now take a look at your mouth in the mirror. As you sing AAAAA start to drop the jaw gradually whilst maintaining the same amount of thrust and see how that alters your voice. You will notice that you begin to scale upward without really doing much at all. It is effortless. So here's the crux. When you learn to sing with the jaw-drop pattern as illustrated above, you will also be inadvertently learning to go up the scale by simply dropping the jaw--by creating more space down the throat--with the vowels A and E--or words that sound like that.

Here's a good example. Listen to the first verse of the song "Touch Me In The Morning" by Diana Ross. Note the second line "Then just walk away." Now try singing that line and when you sing the word AWAY drop the jaw gradually in the second 'A' and slowly close the mouth to fade the note. It would sound like an extended W-A-A-A-Y. This action produces a very refined articulation of the vowel. Dropping the jaw at the right time and at the right pace will produce a better-sounding vocal. Try working with the entire verse again, this time focusing on the breath intake spots before the note. Make sure you drop the jaw to breathe each time there's a gap that allows you to. And remember this. The pattern with which you open your mouth to breathe is the exact same pattern with which you should open your mouth to sing and articulate the vowel. The two work in synergy.

Author Bio

Joett, a singer-songwriter and member of ASCAP, is a vocal coach based in Dar es salaam, Tanzania. His highly acclaimed single "I Could Never Live (Without Your Love)" can be heard on Internet radio Jango and is available for download on iTunes and Amazon MP3. He also presents a 70s Disco 80s Pop retro radio show called BOOGIE from 6pm Sundays on Times 100.5 FM

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