Approximately one year ago, I completely changed my focus about breathing and air support for singing.
For years, I’d been completely caught up in what my body was doing as I was inhaling. Was my throat open? Was my body free? Did I get enough breath for this next phrase? No was usually the answer to all those questions.
In reality, I was tight. Constricted. Tied up in knots. My singing, my thoughts, my muscles, my singing were all caught.
The fact is, singing is an action that happens during exhalation. So, I began intentionally guiding the way my body was moving during the exhalation.
Put simply, an Intentional exhalation = Intentional singing.
This change in perspective is the best thing I’ve EVER done for my singing, so I’m sharing it with you.
Here are the basic steps in breathing and air support that I’ve used to create a more powerful and free vocal sound.
I encourage you to explore and play with these methods and to focus on the sensations. It’s your body, your voice, and your sound. So create something you love!
Intentional Exhalation Exercise
- Purpose: to strengthen the abdominal muscles during exhalation AND to coordinate the even release and relaxation of those muscles during inhalation
- Slow, deliberate muscular engagement towards the center of the body during exhalation
- Shoulder blades move together evenly squeezing an imaginary pencil
- Muscles in the front of the torso move evenly backwards towards the spine
- Muscles in the back of the torso move evenly towards the front of the body
- Muscles on both sides of the torso and ribs squeeze evenly towards each other
- Front, back, and sides of the rib cage lift evenly off the pelvis
- Collarbones pull gently back towards the spine and down away from ears
- Inhalation is a release of every muscle you can feel or sense so that the air freely moves into the body
- Keywords during inspiration are relax, let go, inflate, fill, float, enjoy, bouyant
- Collarbones are free to move and lift towards the heavens
- Ribs are free to expand outward from the center of the body
- Release the muscles inside the lower abdomen, including the pelvic floor muscles
Do the intentional exhalation exercises for at least 5 minutes a day. Work silently at first, then add scales as you please. It’s tempting to focus on the sound as you’re learning what works for your voice and body. Please don’t! Instead, work to develop a deep awareness of the sensations during the intentional exhalation with even, coordinated movements of the body.