In a nutshell, insufficient breath control comes from bad technique. When you take vocal lessons your vocal technique improves , so you’ll usually see an improvement in your breath control. But often you can make some very simple changes and see an improvement almost right away.
1. Stop Holding Your Breath!
Very recently, with two separate students, we were working on a song in our voice lesson after having warmed up and gone through our normal vocal exercise routine. Both of them were really having trouble just finishing simple phrases without becoming winded and out of breath. These are phrases they were singing in a very comfortable area of their range.
I had them sing the phrases a few times, checking for all of the proper positioning and vocal techniques I had taught them. They were doing everything by the numbers, so I began to look deeper. Then it hit me. ” Do you realize that you’re holding your breath after you finish phrases?
“I’m what? Holding my breath when?!”
” When you finish a phrase,” I explained, “you hold your breath right up until the very slpit second you need to start the next phrase. Then you take this really quick gasp of air. That’s why you’re always winded. You’re not breathing!”
In both cases my students were completely unaware that they were doing this. Chances are you may be doing it too. It’s very common. Here’s what I told my students to do.
“You need to take full advantage of spaces between your lyrical phrases where you have an opportunity to breathe. As soon as you finish the last word of your phrase, start drawing in a very controlled, natural breath for the next phrase. This way you’re not starting lines already out of breath.”
“Try that line again, this time use that full space between the first line and the second line. Take a nice deep breath just like we’ve learned. Allowing your stomach to inflate, not raising your chest or shoulders. Let the diaphragm work. Go ahead.”
“OMG, that’s such a difference!”, was the answer I got from both of them after they tried it.
So now you try. Remember, in the average song you’ll have at least a second or two between one phrase and the next. Use that space to inhale for the next phrase. But don’t HEAVE! Proper breathing is done with a relaxed abdomen that rises as you breathe in and gradually falls as you exhale.
2. Breathe Where It Makes Sense!
Once you’ve made that adjustment, start looking closer at your lyrics and where you’re choosing to breathe. Often singers are simply choosing awkward places in the lyrics to try to take a breath.
Frequently you see singers taking quick intakes of air between words in the middle of sentences. These are not only awkward places to breathe, but you have almost no time to do so. So again, you’re gasping for a quick breath instead of a nice, relaxed inhale. If you pay attention to the natural flow of the lyrics, the most natural places to take a breath will start to become obvious. They will be the spaces you hear between one phrase and the next.
I hope you enjoyed this little tip! There’s so much more to learn about how to use your voice properly though. You can start with my free 5 day vocal training course. Get it when you join my mailing list below.
See you soon,