WHAT IS THIS ALL ABOUT?

Check out this 2 minute

SIZZLE REEL

 for a preview of today’s lesson!

(View the full tutorial below!)

DUH I ALREADY KNOW HOW TO BREATHE, BREATHING IS NATURAL…

Well, yes and no. Yes, you know how to take air and convert it into carbon dioxide without having to think about it, however, natural human breath tends to be shallow and tense.  Besides situations of high excitement, stress, or physical application, our natural every day breath is typically shallow, tense, and inefficient. It’s the minimum we need to survive. When we are singing and acting, we need to approach breathing more deliberately and efficiently so that we can use it to our advantage. Natural, every day breath will not be enough to get the job done. Even if a singer is naturally skilled, inefficient and unspecific use of breath may eventually lead to vocal fatigue and physical vocal injury due to misuse. 

When I started my Musical Theatre degree at New York University, our first year vocal class, voice and speech class, AND our acting class all started with intense breathing technique. And you know what. WE HATED IT. We were so ready to just get on with it and show the instructors what we could do and be on Broadway by the end of the school day. We had all come so far, and most of us were coming from being at the tops of our high school classes and local theatre groups, and some of us had already worked professionally. Starting back at square one seemed PAINFUL and even UNNECESSARY! They had to be out of their minds to think we needed this.

But you know what.

We needed it.

We needed it BADLY.

I discovered during my freshman year that my previous training had omitted some very important technical basics, and because of my lack of foundation (and other bad social and every day habits) I had developed calluses on my vocal chords. 

After changing my life habits, taking speech therapy, patiently submitting to learning my singing ABC’s from the top, and a bit of an identity crisis related to all the changes associated with my voice, I came out on the other end BETTER for having learned the right way. Now I knew how to do it right, and how to care for my voice if I ever found myself in trouble again.

OK THEN, TELL ME WHAT I’M DOING WRONG… 

Let’s start with a bit of vocabulary.

Inhale – the act of taking air into the body through the mouth.

Exhale – the act of expelling or pushing air out of the mouth.

When I prompt students to take a deep breath for the first time, most of them gasp audibly, puffing up the chest and shoulders as they inhale air in through the mouth or nose, raising the chin and neck upwards, all while sucking the stomach in.

This is what most people consider a natural breath.

As you may notice, breathing with these habits contributes to a large amount of tension around the chest, shoulders, pectorals, sternum, neck, jaw, and laryngial area (the place where the vocal chords live). Puffing out the chest and raising the neck pulls on the muscles around the larynx, creating tension and stress. The idea is to move stress AWAY from the vocal chords by relaxing, and relocating our center of breath support.

Interestingly enough, if you watch someone who is sleeping, their unconscious, natural breathing is closer to the efficient breathing techniques we use for singing.

*MIND BLOWN* OK, HELP!! WHAT DO I DO!?!?

Many people are taught that breath happens in the diaphragm, which is located below the bust line, in the upper abdominal area, just under the lungs and by the bottoms of your ribs.

(The Diaphragm expands and lowers when breath comes in. The ribs are pushed outwards and upwards to create space.)

via GIPHY

Many people have different philosophies for vocal technique, but for my own practices I’ve found that diaphramic breathing can be problematic due to it’s direct connection with the chest. Breathing from the diaphragm will raise the chest, which again will create tension in the chest, neck, and larynx. 

My students learn how to expand their lower abdominals (below the belly button around the pelvic area) so that the low belly drops down and open. This reduces potential for neck and chest tension, and if anything should allow the chest room to drop down, creating space. 

Here’s a quick tutorial from my IG Story, with another quick look at this technique.

BENEFITS

Benefits to this technique are not limited to:

* Increasing range

* Increasing sustainability

* Increasing power

* More natural vibrato

* Lesser chance of vocal damage

* A more natural sound that’s easier to listen to

* Less “shouty” sound in the belt range

* More ease in complicated, wordy, or quick phrases

* And so forth…

For the

FULL BREATHING TUTORIAL

with easy to follow at-home exercises,

click play on the video below!

I hope you enjoyed this! I love hearing about your victories, comment below and let me know how it’s going! Also let me know if you have any struggles, or if you have requests! I’d love to teach you what you want to learn!

Be Brave,

Michelle <3

@ocprovoice

For Weekly #TipTuesday's

Tune in for next week’s #TipTuesday, for more FREE singing, acting, and performance lessons! If you have any requests for specific techniques, runs, or any other technique you want to learn or problem you need help on, comment below and I may be able to cover it in a Tip Tuesday lesson!