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Hello folks. I have just started a new blog and the first post is about breathing from your diaphragm and breath support. Hopefully it will be useful to some of you.

And any criticisms or anything else I can add would be greatly received

http://singersvoice.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/breathing-from-your-diaphragm-and-support-explained-simply/

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Hello folks. I have just started a new blog and the first post is about breathing from your diaphragm and breath support. Hopefully it will be useful to some of you.

And any criticisms or anything else I can add would be greatly received

http://singersvoice.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/breathing-from-your-diaphragm-and-support-explained-simply/

I believe the article was very informative and a good read. I believe this would have been a great read if you gave an explanation about why the abdomen seems to be expanding like a balloon and that the air doesn't actually go to our abs. Give a little bit of anatomy about the respiratory system and it's function. I believe this will help more scientifically based people get a better understanding and this will help you to earn more credibility.

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Thanks very much for your reply and taking the time to read. I guess the reason I didn't is because I wanted it to be as simple as possible. I guess my view is that to be able to do the exercises properly you don't need to know all of that. Obviously it's important stuff to know but usually I would teach it a bit later, as a beginner it's always a huge amount to take in. But, like you quite rightly pointed out, I could have put that in for the more scientifically based people and will definitely bare this in mind. Thanks again for reading

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thanks gina for taking the time to share. a lot of great points in this.

i would just like to mention a point that perhaps a lot of beginning folks don't realize. i certainly didn't for a while.

when you completely remove yourself from cavicular breathing and go to 100% diaphagmatic breathing, with no clavicular assitance whatsoever, you move away from drawing and sucking in air to making the expansion you do the reason for your air.

it can feel like no air has really been sent down, but it actuality you have just the right amount. the worst thing you can do is tank up on air by actively drawing in air and expanding at the same time. just expand, the air will enter. don't pull it in. don't assist it.

and expand can be misunderstood. it varies. it's not that you have to expand hard, it all depends on your vocal intention.

if you try this, you'll be amazed how little air you actually need to bring in to sing.

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Thanks very much for your reply and taking the time to read. I guess the reason I didn't is because I wanted it to be as simple as possible. I guess my view is that to be able to do the exercises properly you don't need to know all of that. Obviously it's important stuff to know but usually I would teach it a bit later, as a beginner it's always a huge amount to take in. But, like you quite rightly pointed out, I could have put that in for the more scientifically based people and will definitely bare this in mind. Thanks again for reading

I totally agree with you about making it easy for beginners because "paralysis by analysis" really sucks. Maybe in your next blog post you can get into the anatomy and the reasons why we take a low complete breath instead of a high breath. I would include the anatomy, the control you gain from this low breath, and most of all show them that most of there lung tissue is in the lower part of the chest and back. I'm sure you will have great success with your site.

Good Luck! :)

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May I ask what is a scientific description of support? Im interested on the formulae relating the air pressure applied on the larynx, its resistance to air passage, the force applied by the exhaling process and the ammount of resistance the diaphragm is indirectly providing.

It would also be nice if the variations on supraglotal pressure and how the changes on the mechanical tensions applied relate to the resistance of the larynx to air passage could also be considered, in a quantitative way as proposed.

And at last, but not less important, a model to represent the negative feedback networks that both our conscious and subconscious nervous systems form using hearing and tactil information to correct this coordination. The counscious part will prove to be a good challenge to define.

No, support is technique, not a physical model.

And by the way. Good reading Gina, very informative and clearly writen.

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May I ask what is a scientific description of support? Im interested on the formulae relating the air pressure applied on the larynx, its resistance to air passage, the force applied by the exhaling process and the ammount of resistance the diaphragm is indirectly providing.

It would also be nice if the variations on supraglotal pressure and how the changes on the mechanical tensions applied relate to the resistance of the larynx to air passage could also be considered, in a quantitative way as proposed.

And at last, but not less important, a model to represent the negative feedback networks that both our conscious and subconscious nervous systems form using hearing and tactil information to correct this coordination. The counscious part will prove to be a good challenge to define.

No, support is technique, not a physical model.

And by the way. Good reading Gina, very informative and clearly writen.

I know that support is a technique. I am saying some people are visual learners and would benefit from getting a lesson in anatomy. People need to know that when the diaphragm descends it pushes the contents within the abdominal wall and around the core outwards. I read a study somewhere on the net that involved scientists studying the breathing habits of some well trained singers and measure the rate of expiration and view what different breathing techniques did to the vocal tract.

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Thanks guys for all your input.

Videohere, I love that way of explaining it and should have put it in. To just think of expanding your diaphragm and not actually breathing in. I do teach that to my students, I think as many ways as possible to think of it is great but particularly like thins one. Thanks for reminding me :)

thanks gina, glad you liked it! i try to explain things in a very "street" way sometimes..lol

feel free to take anytihng i wrote.

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Good article. Another viewpoint I have read that really helped me is to transplant your lungs. Not literally, but imaginatively. Move your lungs to your belly. It's the one place you don't have bones constricting. Which means you have to make a choice. Are you a singer or a GQ model (for guys) or a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model (for women)? Let the belly expand and the air will come in without straining. And, if you allow this inhalation with kind of an aw shape to the mouth, it has the muscular effect of dilating, relaxing, and lowering the larynx between notes. One does not ever directly control the diaphragm. It is an autonomic muscle. It flexes on inhale, relaxes on exhale. Someone will say, what about yogis slowing down their breathing. They are controlling the abs and intercostals, not the diaphragm.

All that changes in singing is how you allow the breath in, and then, control the expiration with your ab muscles, not the chest, certainly not the diaphragm. I welcome anyone here to try and "stop" the diaphragm. And what did you do? Specfically? You probably tensed your gut. Which is not the diaphragm, but it did immobilize from the "outside" so to speak.

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Good article. Another viewpoint I have read that really helped me is to transplant your lungs. Not literally, but imaginatively. Move your lungs to your belly. It's the one place you don't have bones constricting. Which means you have to make a choice. Are you a singer or a GQ model (for guys) or a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model (for women)? Let the belly expand and the air will come in without straining. And, if you allow this inhalation with kind of an aw shape to the mouth, it has the muscular effect of dilating, relaxing, and lowering the larynx between notes. One does not ever directly control the diaphragm. It is an autonomic muscle. It flexes on inhale, relaxes on exhale. Someone will say, what about yogis slowing down their breathing. They are controlling the abs and intercostals, not the diaphragm.

All that changes in singing is how you allow the breath in, and then, control the expiration with your ab muscles, not the chest, certainly not the diaphragm. I welcome anyone here to try and "stop" the diaphragm. And what did you do? Specfically? You probably tensed your gut. Which is not the diaphragm, but it did immobilize from the "outside" so to speak.

I agree

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Good article. Another viewpoint I have read that really helped me is to transplant your lungs. Not literally, but imaginatively. Move your lungs to your belly. It's the one place you don't have bones constricting. Which means you have to make a choice. Are you a singer or a GQ model (for guys) or a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model (for women)? Let the belly expand and the air will come in without straining. And, if you allow this inhalation with kind of an aw shape to the mouth, it has the muscular effect of dilating, relaxing, and lowering the larynx between notes. One does not ever directly control the diaphragm. It is an autonomic muscle. It flexes on inhale, relaxes on exhale. Someone will say, what about yogis slowing down their breathing. They are controlling the abs and intercostals, not the diaphragm.

All that changes in singing is how you allow the breath in, and then, control the expiration with your ab muscles, not the chest, certainly not the diaphragm. I welcome anyone here to try and "stop" the diaphragm. And what did you do? Specfically? You probably tensed your gut. Which is not the diaphragm, but it did immobilize from the "outside" so to speak.

ronws: While one does not directly control the diaphragm, the desire to inhale causes it to flex. Very, very many people have learned how to sing in a manner that continues this flex while tone is being produced, providing a balancing action to slow down the exhale. If this balance is not provided, the energy stored in the abs, lung tissue and lung surface tension will overblow the voice.

The 'tensing of the gut', if it has an outward feeling, is an 'amped up' version of what happens in the muscular balance achieved when the diaphragm continues its flex during the note. Its so automatic that most people do not realize that it is happening. Expressed another way, if a singer takes a breath and then firms their abs at the end of the inhale without closing the glottis or exhaling, the diaphragm is the muscle that is preventing the exhale. Whenever, during a sung note, the abs feel firmly expanded, the diaphragm is actively balancing the ab contraction.

To net this out... diaphragm participation in the sung tone is desirable, and very easily stimulated. There are several images, physical metaphors and body actions that provoke its continued involvement. If it is _not_ involved, then there is no management of the breath energy against the vocal bands...and poorer singing results.

I hope this is helpful.

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breath pressure (but controlled breath pressure) is the result of good support. when you are strong down there, it's as if you have an adjustable valve to control the pressure. as you acsend in pitch in full voice there's more air pressure needed, but less air needed.

all in all the key is to achieve an "adjustability and balance" between fold tension and breath pressure.

easier said than done ...lol!!!!

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Gosh, some good posts here.

Right,

Ron,

I welcome anyone here to try and "stop" the diaphragm. And what did you do? Specifically? You probably tensed your gut.

Example - We have discussed the Phrenic before, but I would like you to theorise this example. So - No I don't want you to tense your gut, just do this.

Hold your breath (ok people time to theorise (disclaimer time) - not actually do. So refer to any previous time in life, etc. Not actually do!!). for start 20 seconds. Then 40 seconds, then 60, then 120 .. then 240, then 580 ... etc

You will go through several feelings. One is a need to breath (so unconscious control over conscious control). Then comes the conscious control over unconscious, so the continued held breath. Then comes the point of need to breath (survival instinct). This is then controlled two ways.

1) you will pass out and unconscious control will take over and you will breath unconsciously.

2) you will continue to hold breath, you will pass out, unfortunately unconscious control does not restart breathing.

.sections removed as now read. But I used the term "Suspend" the movement via conscious control.

Bob. Like the last comment. However commenting on a previous. Not many people clavicuar breath. It's not human nature (even on teacup refill, we feel Intercostal movement) but maybe you mean shallow intercostal breath.

Steven has this covered.

Gina - I've watched a few of your vids and, after having seen some of the exercises - some are VERY familiar, i.e. from the same Master. May! I ask who you train under and "if" you or current coach trained under *name now removed as name read*. (p.s. to the unknown said teacher was one of the best in local area).

Izzle - Totally agree with your comment - That's what makes an excellent vocal coach. Some students are Mathematical / logical, some are Kinestetic, some spacial. One thing I learned through teaching over the years is that we need to cover ALL scenarios (and a lot of coaches don't).

Gina - Would you "poss" like to write a passage on teaching breathing via phrasing. Phrasing is one thing that we get drilled into us (or at least I hope we do).

Regards,

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breath pressure (but controlled breath pressure) is the result of good support. when you are strong down there, it's as if you have an adjustable valve to control the pressure. as you acsend in pitch in full voice there's more air pressure needed, but less air needed.

all in all the key is to achieve an "adjustability and balance" between fold tension and breath pressure.

easier said than done ...lol!!!!

Hitting it right on the head of the nail, imo.

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Gina - I've watched a few of your vids and, after having seen some of the exercises - some are VERY familiar, i.e. from the same Master. May! I ask who you train under and "if" you or current coach trained under Brenda. (p.s. to the unknown said teacher was one of the best in local area).

Izzle - Totally agree with your comment - That's what makes an excellent vocal coach. Some students are Mathematical / logical, some are Kinestetic, some spacial. One thing I learned through teaching over the years is that we need to cover ALL scenarios (and a lot of coaches don't).

Gina - Would you "poss" like to write a passage on teaching breathing via phrasing. Phrasing is one thing that we get drilled into us (or at least I hope we do).

Regards,

Hey stew,

The only vids I have are me singing songs but not sure that's what you are referring too? I don't know who Brenda is! My exercises come from an accumulation of when I was studying and from reading etc. Did you mean to address me in this one?

Also, when you say teaching breathing via phrasing are you referring to applying the breathing techniques to a song? well, the phrases in a song?

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When people are sleeping, they often breath naturally, barring any disorders, such as sleep apnea. The body allows the belly to expand, which allows the diaphragm to flex. Then the diaphragm relaxes, pushing air out. It is only when we are awake that we hold our gut in, usually to appear more trim. There is also some muscle tension in the lower abs when we stand. It must be there for us to maintain balance when standing or walking.

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Hi Gena,

I was watching some of the vids posted and as one exercise you posted which was a, "my god, I use that one too" moment (Can't remember which now). Now sometimes exercises as such are handed down from earlier generation coaches, so a multitude of them use the same exercise.

It was just a, "i know that one" moment, hence the question of do you know person "x". And not only do I use it, so do several local and father afield coaches use it too who I know.

You say in the blog, "Have you ever tried to sing a song but found yourself running out of breath half way through a phrase? It’s probably because you’re not in control of your breathing".

so, yes - teaching phrasing in a song and marking breath points and thus, the need to get airflow in and out through the phrase sang (as one thing you see in the festivals is patterned breath points, rather than phrasing used for the beauty of the song (so a breathpoint may be omitted to link a few bars). Isn't this a learned skill ?

Regards,

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Great article. Im going to try this idea of 'expanding the lower torso' rather than 'breathing in'. I just find it so difficult to control the rate I expel the air. As a result I pretty much end up out of breath even though at the start of whatever line I sing Im pretty confident I have a great deal of breath 'stored up'.

Z

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Running out of breath is not a matter of breath control its cord closure. You could do all the breath exercises known but if your cords are not approximated(closed) corectly. There will always be to much air slipping through and making you feel like your running out of breath.

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Running out of breath is not a matter of breath control its cord closure. You could do all the breath exercises known but if your cords are not approximated(closed) corectly. There will always be to much air slipping through and making you feel like your running out of breath.

True, but if you start from the source you will be applying less air to the folds which will allow them to function more efficiently/Better closure.

This is not to say that fold closure isn't important because these two aspects work hand and hand. I feel most vocal issues are symptoms of not fully developing the breathing system.

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I just find it so difficult to control the rate I expel the air. As a result I pretty much end up out of breath even though at the start of whatever line I sing Im pretty confident I have a great deal of breath 'stored up'.

Z

Zedbo, there may be several factors at play here:

1) is your chest in a somewhat noble position? Not too high but not slouched or caved in with your back hunched over? It should stay in a somewhat lifted position and it shouldn't move too much when exhaling.

2) do you feel your abdominals, back and/or solar plexus engage when exhaling? This can be way too exaggerated sometimes but the right amount of it needs to be linked with a continuous and slow exhale.

3) while the folds do need to close in order to produce sounds, if forced close, progress can be very slow and sometimes not even be realized.

These are just my ideas and experiences. For myself, I've found that linking a light valsalva maneuver (while keeping the glottis completely open) to a slow exhale allows me to transfer the right amount of air into my singing. Day after day I can tell that it becomes more natural to speak and sing with an amount of air that is efficient and comfortable in my range... Also am able to increase my range.

Let me know if you have questions.

Best regards,

EGO

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when you have really built up strength below and use appoggio, you can actually pressurize the air yet you have the strength to hold it back from pushing against the folds. you can acually delicately (if need be) lay the air up against the folds. it's almost as if you can apply the air with a brush (sounds crazy i know) but it's hard to explain.

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