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Breathing Exercises

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I recently got "The Ultimate Breathing Workout" book by Jaime Vendera and have been trying the exercises, but I'm wondering:

Are all these exercises necessary? Why can I not just do one or two exercises and track progress in those?

For some specific examples, why must I count to the highest number I can on one breath, then speak the alphabet as far as I can on one breath, then count to the highest number I can (on a specific pitch) on one breath? Why not just do the last one?

Besides, what do these exercises offer that holding a note for as long as you can each day doesn't?

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when breath "capacity" is improved and the lower core is strenghened, the benefits to your singing are numerous.

do you have to do every single exercise? no, but these exercises all contribute to better management of the breath.

what comes is more versatility, more power, more dynamics, more stamina. a better breath mangement system also contributes greatly to overall vocal health.

do you want to be singing with a 4 cylinder or turbo charged 8 cylinder engine? the analogy here is both engines will cruise, but the 4 cylinder will be working harder going up hills or accelerating from a dead stop than the 8 cylinder will.

bob

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when breath "capacity" is improved and the lower core is strenghened, the benefits to your singing are numerous.

do you have to do every single exercise? no, but these exercises all contribute to better management of the breath.

what comes is more versatility, more power, more dynamics, more stamina. a better breath mangement system also contributes greatly to overall vocal health.

do you want to be singing with a 4 cylinder or turbo charged 8 cylinder engine? the analogy here is both engines will cruise, but the 4 cylinder will be working harder going up hills or accelerating from a dead stop than the 8 cylinder will.

bob

Thank you, and I agree that having great breath management is a large benefit to singing (that's why I got the book :P). However, I am just wondering why Jamie wants us to do all these different exercises, rather than focusing on a few challenging ones?

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ah, let me help you right there.....you have to realize jaime vendera is an "animal" when it comes to this stuff.

he's a great guy, i love him, but he's one of those real driven, ultra passionate teachers with a million ways to do things.

he's real big on the special herbs, and his special water, and all the spices, the misting bottle..oh man.

he's very passsonate (as i am) about the benefits to breath support but the guy is a glass breaker....lol!!!! he's better be generating a serious complimentary frequency to bust those glasses....lol!!!

and he wrote a book on breathing so i guess he was also trying to thicken it up from just being a pamphlet...lol!!!!

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I also have that book.

The great thing about breathing exercises is that you can do them any time of day.

Instead of setting a time to do them, I do them whenever I am walking around during the day.

It's hard for people to hear you breathe with all the noise outside.

It's only 9 exercises. You can easily do them on your way to and from lunch.

Also, saying "why Jamie wants us to do all these different exercises, rather than focusing on a few challenging ones?" is like saying "Why doesn't my vocal coach only give me one or two challenging exercises instead of the 10 that he/she gives me?".

It's because each exercise has a purpose.

Didn't you read the book?

He gives his reason for doing each exercise.

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I also have that book.

The great thing about breathing exercises is that you can do them any time of day.

Instead of setting a time to do them, I do them whenever I am walking around during the day.

It's hard for people to hear you breathe with all the noise outside.

It's only 9 exercises. You can easily do them on your way to and from lunch.

Also, saying "why Jamie wants us to do all these different exercises, rather than focusing on a few challenging ones?" is like saying "Why doesn't my vocal coach only give me one or two challenging exercises instead of the 10 that he/she gives me?".

It's because each exercise has a purpose.

Didn't you read the book?

He gives his reason for doing each exercise.

Yeah it's not unreasonable, and I did read the book and while he did provide explanations, he didn't explain why counting to ten and then counting to ten on a note were significant from each other (or at least I didn't see why). To me it seems like it would be best to take the last exercise from each of the 4 sections and do those, but I'm looking to be proved wrong because Jamie knows much more than me.

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Breathing is life and without we would not exist. We are free vessels that are able to express ourselves by showing emotion. Our breathing technique must be one that is connected to the natural inclination to want to live. Natural breathing is the key to our emotions and our success, so we must learn how to remove the mental blocks that are keeping us from achieving this goal.

Breathe like a baby and cry!!!!! Show some emotion and live your live accordingly!

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sing short, sharp, bursts with the word "ha" in a scale as if forcing a hearty laugh (must have a very open throat). as you get stronger, increase the speed and learn to breathe during them.

also try a frictative like an "f"... pretend you have a candle, blow out the candle eight times on one breath. repeat 4 times.

you can make up some too.

dan, i'm curious why you say "not necessary?"

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because i believe you breathe in, tummy and back expand, and as you sing they stay expanded and you try to keep them going out. if you need to feel what that feels like just breathe in and blow threw a tiny tiny straw as hard as you can and feel the resisitance. once you feel it you got it and try to recreate it

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“Describe to me what you think when you take a breath,” I [Hines] said. “If a note is properly supported,” [Domingo] explained, “when you are singing, somebody might even be able to hit you” – he indicated the stomach area — “and that note is still there. I used to breathe like this…” He demonstrated by lifting his chest and shoulders high. “You cannot support, and many people sing that way. It should be deeper” – he gestured with his hands to show expansion, indicating filling his whole abdomen from the ribs on down – “everything expanding out.”

This is Domingo I repeat everything expanding out I did not learn this from him but when I sing this action happens naturally.. I do not deflate the stomach on exhale and this is pretty basic technique for support.Anne has the inhale correct but the exhale for support wrong. .. Sorry bout that read my disclaimer. :D

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I think of it this way. Actually let me correct that because I don't really think about it. :) But if I had to explain it I visualize it this way. Have you ever held a balloon that is not fully expanded, although tied off and sealed from air escaping, and squeezed it? The part in your hand crushes and the air that squeezes out from where your hand is tries to escape. Because it can't it makes a bubble above and below your hand. That, is from collapsing the balloon. It is forcing the air out. If you didn't have the end sealed the air would rush out. Let's think of the part in your hand as the diaphragm. If you squeeze it (collapse it/draw it in) all the air wants to come out. The only difference is that with your lungs and singing, the ends aren't tied off so the air rushes out. If there is no more air there is no more singing!!

When you contract your belly (suck it in) that is squeezing the balloon. When you expand it that is inflating. You don't even really have to breath in...like a bellows it automatically draws in air when you expand. If you stop thinking of the belly going out and instead think of the diaphragm going up and down it helps. When you inhale it goes down from the top or is pushed down by the lungs expanding. If you let your belly draw back in the diaphragm then pushes up against the lungs pushing air out of your mouth. (Squeezing the balloon but now with an open end).

The longer you can keep the diaphragm expanded or the more you can stop it from drawing in, the less you will "squeeze" air out and the more you will be able to "control" how much is escaping. By drawing in the abs/belly/diaphragm, you are leaving less room for air. The quicker this happens the quicker the note fades.

So I don't think of it as a pumping or an in and out. For me, there is a tension down there and in my torso/ribs etc, that is letting the lungs work but leaving room by slowing the diaphragm from collapsing. When I'm out (or just about, which for me is a timing thing also that I time with a phrase) I draw in more air by expanding again.

So to simplify....I need room man!!! :D Give those lungs room. Expand the diaphragm? Maybe that is a wrong term. How about making it smaller so the lungs can have some room? Let it go dowwnnnn.

One thing I do is I've learned years ago to just make sound. I don't necessarily sing a note and I don't actively try to use air at all. I just make sound . Sometimes just the folds and sometimes (most) the nose. Then I hold it very long. Low, not loud. I just want to practice not relying on lots of air.

Disclaimer: This has been my unschooled advice/version. :D

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The best diagnostic for proper posture in breathing I've come across is to lift your arms and connect the palms above your head. You're in good posture now. Then lower them, but keep the posture. And support is trying to keep it throughout. I find that in this posture my entire torso has to activate to keep it, so by just concentrating on it I keep myself in proper support mode.

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If one tries Trip's posture, you will find that most of your ribcage is immobilized, which is a good thing for teaching singer's breath. For then, the only way you can breathe is to let your belly expand, which gives room for the diaphragm, an autonomic muscle, to expand. Free and easy, especially if you let your mouth form an aw on intake. This is also has the advantage of dilating the larynx and allowing it reset to "neutral" if it was in motion before.

Some systems have advocated holding the breath a moment before singing. I don't. Holding the breath causes sympathetic actions to happen (tension creep, the larynx closing off.) Singing is something in motion. Intake the breath, then begin singing.

Probably the easiest mental image I have come across is to figuratively transplant your lungs to your gut. This also helps you learn to remain fluid and strong in your midsection.

As for the number of exercises, well, that's Jaime's style. Take the ones that work for you. Take the ones you can manage to do, for now. To go somewhere is better than to go nowhere.

And have patience. If you look at it as "work," then it will be work. If you look at it as a step toward where you want it to be, then it will be a step to where you want to be. Singing is mental.

The breathing, the finding of resonance, etc. That's 10 percent. Mentality is the other 90 percent. My Kenpo instructor once said that about the learning and use of martial arts. I have found it to be true in application to any skill that is to be honed.

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About the posture: Exactly :) It also shifts attention from the abs, a part of the mechanism that people are prone to overthink (for example, me). Maintaining the chest elevated is a much easier and less stressful thing to focus on, imo.

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The best diagnostic for proper posture in breathing I've come across is to lift your arms and connect the palms above your head. You're in good posture now. Then lower them, but keep the posture. And support is trying to keep it throughout. I find that in this posture my entire torso has to activate to keep it, so by just concentrating on it I keep myself in proper support mode.

Wow I really like that, I can tell that I'm doing something different when I try it (it reminds me of all those times people say "don't take in too much or too little air" and this position seems to make it easier to do that), although it's hard to be sure that I'm keeping the correct support when I lower my arms again.

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Well, the sternum should remaing on the same level as when your hands are raised. (Go nekkid and keep an eye on those nipples, if you want to be sure, they shouldn't be moving:D) Be mindful that it harder to keep the posture if you lock your knees; they should be bent a little bit, and even better - one behind the other with the weight resting on the back foot.

Oh, I forgot an important detail: raise your arms as if you're reaching for the roof/sky, don't just connect the palms.

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