Saturday, January 14, 2012

Most Effective Breathing Exercises for Singers

Although they'll never admit it, most people have the ability to sing.  There's more involved in singing than hitting the right notes, though.  To sing like a professional, you need to develop the muscles in your chest, abdomen and back.  Muscular development is important because proper body position is required for successful singing.

Professional singers exercise regularly to improve their lung capacity, position, balance and vocal tone. These exercises don't resemble the routines we normally think of as exercise, but they're designed to develop and strengthen the muscles required for performance.

If you're interested in pursuing a career in song, here are a few exercises you can do to strengthen your "singing muscles."

A strong diaphragm is an absolute necessity for a singer. The diaphragm is a muscle that sits below your lungs and separates your chest from your abdomen.  When you inhale your diaphragm contracts. This contraction increases the space of the thoracic cavity and draws air into the body.  When you exhale, the diaphragm expands and forces air out.  These two actions are absolutely necessary for clear, confident singing, so increasing the strength and control of the diaphragm can improve your stage performance.

Breathe With Your Belly

Inhale rapidly and deeply.  The contraction you feel below your lungs is your diaphragm. Although your diaphragm works each time you inhale or exhale, quick deep inhalation breaths will help stretch and strengthen this muscle, and it will help you identify its position. When you are singing, you should be able to feel your diaphragm contracting and relaxing. If you cannot feel your diaphragm, you're not inhaling quickly enough or deeply enough to provide sustained sound.

When you breathe, your chest normally expands and contracts.  With this exercise, also designed to strengthen your diaphragm, you want to exhale without decreasing the size of your chest.  If you can do this, you can master the controlled exhalation you need to sing.

Exhaling Through Your Diaphragm

Take in a rapid, deep breath. Note the expanded size of your chest.  "Lock" your chest muscles and exhale the air using your diaphragm. Exhale as completely as possible without changing your chest size.  The exhalation (which may feel a bit funny) was accomplished by your diaphragm. Repeat this exercise to help establish the smooth exhalation control you'll need to perform.

Posture is another key element to breathing. When you stand straight and tall, your diaphragm can expand and contract more effectively. If you sit, slump or hunch your shoulders forward, the rest of your body limits the space in which your diaphragm can expand.

Balancing A Book

Find a hardcover book, about the size of a textbook.  Stand as straight as you can and try to balance the book on your head.  To prevent the book from falling, you'll need to keep your head, neck and back straight. Try to balance the book for 30 seconds, then 1 minute, then 2 minutes, then three minutes without relaxing your neck or spine.  Once you've got the knack of balancing the book, add belly breathing and exhaling through the diaphragm to the mix.  After you master the balancing and breathing, try raising your arms over your head while you breathe and balance the book. This will help expand your chest cavity and enable you to take in more air.

Repeat these exercises regularly and you'll develop the correct posture and diaphragmatic strength you'll need to launch your singing career.

Jayden Brown is a freelance writer who specializes in respiratory health and respiratory care articles. Jayden has been writing for over five years online and has written extensively about respiratory therapist schools and programs.

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