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[Beginner] A shallow breathers' perspective on inhaling

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Fred
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This is not as much a question as a realisation. I am/was a shallow breather.

I asked a young lady, whose voice is amazing, from a very respected choir in this town, how she breathes while singing. Ofcourse she had no idea, she just did but I asked her specifically to note anything the next time she sang. She was happy to help and today she explained that indeed she widened her lower ribs as much as she could and kept them there while exhaling. The less air the more she had to work sort of.

I made some experiments and found that if I do -not- inhale and widen/expand my ribs my stomach area goes in very very far. I noted that in my naturally relaxed state I have very little air in my lungs so this comes to no surprise. If the lungs are expanded they fill with air right? It has to come from somewhere.

But here's the gripe: To feel natural and relaxed with widened ribs I have to inhale quite a bit of air to start with. From there it is not much left to "full".

So what happens here? Is it just my feeling of "a lot" of air that is twisted. The amount of air I intake might be normal for another person who does not breathe shallow?

I first had the impression you have to work your muscles hard to keep ribs expanded, then a few weeks ago I noted that I didn't have to work hard and I could still breathe from diaphragm. Yet here I am again with the explanation to work the muscles hard. Haven't really had time to fully try it out yet..

Thanks

Fred

/edit

More Resources on the matter

About ribs: http://www.punbb-hosting.com/forums/themodernvocalist/viewtopic.php?id=586

A great personal take on breathing from Bob: http://www.punbb-hosting.com/forums/themodernvocalist/viewtopic.php?id=1201

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Hi Fred- new guy here- I find that I share this issue. I don't think I've ever breathed correctly for singing. I think that there's a lot of ... 'space' that I don't use. When I try to fill up in my stomach area, it just feels funky, not to mention, all the sudden I look like Santa Claus at my gigs, but to push out the ribs has always been strange for me. I find that if I fill up down below, I've got too much air and I start holding it back which creates tension in my neck... it's definitely a snowballing process.

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This is not as much a question as a realisation. I am/was a shallow breather.

I asked a young lady, whose voice is amazing, from a very respected choir in this town, how she breathes while singing. Ofcourse she had no idea, she just did but I asked her specifically to note anything the next time she sang. She was happy to help and today she explained that indeed she widened her lower ribs as much as she could and kept them there while exhaling. The less air the more she had to work sort of.

I made some experiments and found that if I do -not- inhale and widen/expand my ribs my stomach area goes in very very far. I noted that in my naturally relaxed state I have very little air in my lungs so this comes to no surprise. If the lungs are expanded they fill with air right? It has to come from somewhere.

But here's the gripe: To feel natural and relaxed with widened ribs I have to inhale quite a bit of air to start with. From there it is not much left to "full".

So what happens here? Is it just my feeling of "a lot" of air that is twisted. The amount of air I intake might be normal for another person who does not breathe shallow?

I first had the impression you have to work your muscles hard to keep ribs expanded, then a few weeks ago I noted that I didn't have to work hard and I could still breathe from diaphragm. Yet here I am again with the explanation to work the muscles hard. Haven't really had time to fully try it out yet..

Thanks

Fred

/edit

More Resources on the matter

About ribs: http://www.punbb-hosting.com/forums/themodernvocalist/viewtopic.php?id=586

A great personal take on breathing from Bob: http://www.punbb-hosting.com/forums/themodernvocalist/viewtopic.php?id=1201

fred, i can't quite follow you...are you saying you want to improve on your breath capacity?

b.t.w., you don't breathe from your diaphragm. did you ever read jaime vendera's breathing book? a good read, and breathing specific.

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I was perhaps a little vague. Well I have become unsure what "respectable" amount of air is and whether or not I should "work" at having ribs and sternum raised and expanded, because it is forcing my to inhale an, for me, unusual amount of air. It just struck me I can just try it out with various amounts and record the difference.

I have the Vendera book but found it more for power breathers who already know the basics (ie, I put it on the shelf until I sorted out other things). Will read it again tonight (third times the charm).

Thanks

Fred

/edit

Ok, one last edit!

Let's say I can expand my ribs to 80% without muscle involvement, then I can tighten my back a little and reach 90%. Then I can go to 100% but it require a good deal of muscle (in fact it feels more like I am flexing my back rather than expanding my ribs).

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I was perhaps a little vague. Well I have become unsure what "respectable" amount of air is and whether or not I should "work" at having ribs and sternum raised and expanded, because it is forcing my to inhale an, for me, unusual amount of air. It just struck me I can just try it out with various amounts and record the difference.

I have the Vendera book but found it more for power breathers who already know the basics (ie, I put it on the shelf until I sorted out other things). Will read it again tonight (third times the charm).

Thanks

Fred

/edit

Ok, one last edit!

Let's say I can expand my ribs to 80% without muscle involvement, then I can tighten my back a little and reach 90%. Then I can go to 100% but it require a good deal of muscle (in fact it feels more like I am flexing my back rather than expanding my ribs).

fred, love ya buddy, but i think you're micro-analyzing this too much. you've got 2 goals, you want to improve your capacity, and your support.

this development will yield these abiliites:

sing more powerfully (not louder) more powerfully

hold out notes longer (both soft and loud)

more consistency of tone

sing more demanding songs....those with quick pitch jumps, or fast tempos for example "urgent" lol!!!!!!!

vocal endurance

and when you support correctly, and breathe optimally, the stress comes off the throat area, the ideal situation.

i would like to recommend you revisit jaime's breathing book and do those exercises for month or two.

i couldn't get over how i went from being able to hold my breath from 29 seconds, to a minute and a half, in a few weeks.

jump on youtube, and i guarantee you there's a bunch of vids showing you how.

here's a site to start you:

http://thevoiceplace.com/

click on "voice building" on the left panel.

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Fred, et al:

Here are some additional thoughts related to your conversation:

The position of the ribs and sternum establish the 'frame' of the chest, in the front and sides. The diaphragm establishes the 'bottom' of the chest cavity.

Positioning the ribs outward, and more or less leaving them there as much as possible, does two things:

1) keeps the max volume of the lungs around the top capacity, and 2) keeps inward rib motion from creating relatively unmanaged air pressure.

While this inward motion is not completely avoidable on long notes, stable sternum and rib positions put the remaining breath pressure control in the 'hands' of the diaphragm, where you can have the most control.

None of this says how much air is inhaled with a breath. As Fred noted, the expanded lungs are a larger % of full when starting with the expanded ribs, in formal terms, the residual volume is higher, and the tidal (the in-out during the breath cycle) is lower when compared with 'full'.

From the expanded rib position, the singer is then free to inhale just as much as is needed for the phrase. Its not necessary (or even possible) to tank up every time. In fact, tanking up means there is more to manage, and requires better support technique to do so.

And just as an aside... its not possible to breathe in without the diaphragm being involved, unless the person has special training on how to do so.

I hope this helps,

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