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jonpall

Keeping ribs expanded

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Hi,

How many of you guys keep your ribs expanded when you sing a melody?

I was wondering because I was reading Jamie Vendera's book, RYV2. It kind of sounds like he considers it essential to have a constant downwards pressure when you sing (in your low ab region), but I get the feeling that he thinks that keeping your ribs expanded at the same time is good but not essential. He says that it makes your head voice more chesty but I can't see that he says that it's actually essential for support. Then the CVT support talks about both being important.

What is your opinion on this matter? Is it enough to let your low abs gradually go in or is it very important to make sure that you chest stays big (I guess you'll look like an opera singer when doing that because they seem to have that type of stance to me).

Regards,

jonpall.

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Hi,

How many of you guys keep your ribs expanded when you sing a melody?

I was wondering because I was reading Jamie Vendera's book, RYV2. It kind of sounds like he considers it essential to have a constant downwards pressure when you sing (in your low ab region), but I get the feeling that he thinks that keeping your ribs expanded at the same time is good but not essential. He says that it makes your head voice more chesty but I can't see that he says that it's actually essential for support. Then the CVT support talks about both being important.

What is your opinion on this matter? Is it enough to let your low abs gradually go in or is it very important to make sure that you chest stays big (I guess you'll look like an opera singer when doing that because they seem to have that type of stance to me).

Regards,

jonpall.

Jonpall: keeping the ribs expanded is a way to help manage breath energy. If the ribs are kept expanded, the potential energy that is stored in the intercostal muscles is not released on the exhale. If the sternum is also kept high, _all_ of the breath energy used in the singing can be under management by the diaphragm. This does not automatically prevent overpressuring, but definitely makes breath pressure managable to the point that subtle aspects of phonation can be chosen.

One of these subtlties is the balance of breath energy and laryngeal muscle activity in the head voice. Slightly reducing the breath energy using this technique will result in a higher closed quotient... the % of the time during the phonation cycle that the glottis is closed. This causes a change in the glottal pulse waveform that our ears interpret as being a 'chestier' sound.

Your comment about opera singers is insightful. If a classical singer lets the breath pressure get out of hand, the fine balance can be upset, and the power of the head voice will not match that of the upper chest voice. This particular technique, of minimizing chest motion during a note, is commonly taught in classical singing for that reason.

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joshual, i for one have learned that some notes are better hit and sustained ironically not at the top of the inhale, but rather in the mid to latter portion of the exhale. i used to have a bad habit of inhaling real deep then trying to sing a high powerful set of notes like the part in foreigner's "that was yesterday" the lyric "that was yesterday, i had the world in haaaands" ...now i just take a quick breath brace my buttocks and push down with my belly and the notes release smoothly. jaime's and rob's practise breathing routines have helped me immensely.

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I never, nor do I teach my students to become fixated on "keeping your ribs expanded"... I mean, thanks Steve... but what does that really mean anyways? I dont know... I guess in my pedagogy and my studio... there are so many other things to worry about and focus on like bridging passago and laryngeal configurations in the head voice... that getting to complicated about breathing would just be a major distraction... just learn to breath deep and low... dont breath high (meaning dont raise your chest or shoulders), and focus on the hard stuff... bridging and connecting in the head voice... the breathing will come and fall into line without fussing aroud with it too much.

I have a DVD of breathing excercises and workouts on my training system that is quite good... inhereted from the late Maestro David P. Kyle... if you were to do that, you would be coordinated and your breathing would respond perfectly the way you want it to.

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Robert,

When you say "the breathing will come and fall into line without fussing aroud with it too much". Do you then mean support? Or do you mean the inhalation process? I'm curios because SLS/SS say the exact same thing. :)

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I never, nor do I teach my students to become fixated on "keeping your ribs expanded"... I mean, thanks Steve... but what does that really mean anyways? I dont know... I guess in my pedagogy and my studio... there are so many other things to worry about and focus on like bridging passagio and laryngeal configurations in the head voice... that getting to complicated about breathing would just be a major distraction... just learn to breathe deep and low... don't breathe high (meaning dont raise your chest or shoulders), and focus on the hard stuff... bridging and connecting in the head voice... the breathing will come and fall into line without fussing around with it too much.

Robert: Based on your description... 'learn to breathe deep and low... don't breathe high', you are already doing it, just accessing it without having to think about it. Here's my reasoning, see how you like it:

Lets consider a 'theoretical' singer, of any gender or genre, who allows their chest to fall and the ribs to collapse uncontrolledly during the sung note as a part of providing breath energy to the voice. This singer is using energy stored in the body, in this case during the raising body parts and stretching of muscles, to help provide breath energy for phonation.

This energy did not come from just anywhere, it was the result of the energy used to raise and expand the chest, likely during the inhale.

If our singer allows these down and inward motions of the chest to occur during phonation, (and the energy to be used) that singer must reverse those actions during the inhalation in order to recoup the energy for the next sung phrase. In other words, the singer who allow the chest to contract and fall during a phrase must raise and re-expand it with each inhalation. In essence, this is 'high' breathing, just without shoulder motion.

An effect of high breathing is that the breath energy accumulated this way on inhale cannot be managed by the diaphragm, rather, if it is managed at all, it is managed by the muscles which raised and expanded the chest in the first place. This actually can be made to work for the singer within certain limits during the sung phrase, but energy used this way must be restored during inhale.

Now, for another singer who uses the approach of 'breathe deep and low' (and avoiding breathing high), this singer is minimizing the amount of energy stored high in the body during the inhale, and relying instead largely on the abdominal muscles to provide the breath energy for singing. This process can be put under the management of the diaphragm, using any number of very direct approaches, such as 'firm your belly', or 'push down'.

Whatever combination of techniques is used, the goal is the same... to provide the appropriate amount of breath energy to match the activity of the laryngeal musculature for the kind of singing desired.

Whatcha think?

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Robert,

When you say "the breathing will come and fall into line without fussing aroud with it too much". Do you then mean support? Or do you mean the inhalation process? I'm curios because SLS/SS say the exact same thing. :)

Martin, I think I mean both... the entire experience of breathing with singing... Ok, someone, sooner or later needs to tell you to breath low as a singer... but assuming that is taken care of and your not breathing high... the coordinations, the required support calibrations, the rhythmic ques on when to breath in music, developing sustain, etc... all come with working on scales while your focusing on bigger battles.

Im not trying to say that respiration isnt important, Im trying to say that its falls into place without having to be too contientious of it in your study.. unlike bridging and head tone development which requires acute attention and focus on what your doing.

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Well Steve, Im not sure what your point is, although it is characteristically eloquent... are you making an argument for high breathing or low breathing in singing? Ill cut to the chase, and as you helped point out... breathing high engages larger extrinsic muscles; deltoids, pectoids and you know what... that is ALL a bit too close the constrictors for my comfort!!!!!! It also is just not efficient, you cant get as much air and you cant support with as much "kick" as you can when you breath low and isolate with a more diaphramatic concentration... "deep and low" below the rip cage and expansion horizontally not vertically.

Singers breath deep and low and isloate to the diaphram.... They should not take big, clunky, extrinsic muscle breaths that flirt with constrictor triggering that provide half the resource they need to sing well.

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Thanks Robert,

I guess I just look at it the other way around - it's the support that ensures that the laryngeal config. can function properly and healthy. :)

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Well Steve, Im not sure what your point is, although it is characteristically eloquent... are you making an argument for high breathing or low breathing in singing?

Singers breathe deep and low and isloate to the diaphram.... They should not take big, clunky, extrinsic muscle breaths that flirt with constrictor triggering that provide half the resource they need to sing well.

Robert: Though I did not make the argument directly, I advocate low breathing, for the reasons mentioned throughout my post. I will summarize it this way: low breathing provides better opportunity to put breath energy under diaphragmatic control. The bulk of my post was to discuss _why_ I think that is the case.

Furthermore, I also think that the method you personally use when you sing, and that you teach in your studio, prevents the extraneous breath energy which would result from chest collapse during phonation. It has to, or you and your students would have difficulty bridging, which you clearly do not :D. As you demonstrate so well in your 'pull up and back' video, you manage breath energy (your term: velocity) within the passagio to facilitate the bridging.

So, I think you are keeping your ribs fairly motionless during phonation, just accomplishing it a manner which is not contrived, or arduous, or requires 'fixation', but rather directly associated with your 'low and deep' breath metaphor.

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Hi,

How many of you guys keep your ribs expanded when you sing a melody?

I was wondering because I was reading Jamie Vendera's book, RYV2. It kind of sounds like he considers it essential to have a constant downwards pressure when you sing (in your low ab region), but I get the feeling that he thinks that keeping your ribs expanded at the same time is good but not essential. He says that it makes your head voice more chesty but I can't see that he says that it's actually essential for support. Then the CVT support talks about both being important.

What is your opinion on this matter? Is it enough to let your low abs gradually go in or is it very important to make sure that you chest stays big (I guess you'll look like an opera singer when doing that because they seem to have that type of stance to me).

Regards,

jonpall.

i'm no expert by any means , but i do breathing and neck muscle exercises each day.....i am a firm believer that pressurized air (ribs expanded) can help drive some really powerful high notes that sustain themselves almost as if they were suspended. you get this feeling like the note can just keep going and going....and ironically the note can start in the middle of an exhale rather than at the top of an inhale.

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Well, I think that if you can sing a fair amount of high, powerful notes during rehearsals or gigs, some of them with grit, perhaps, and not lose your range after singing those notes, and being able to speak perfectly fine the day after and your throat doesn't hurt - then your method of supporting, be it a focus on the larynx or the diaphragm/abs, ribs expanding conciously or not, is good. I think it could be two means to the same end, i.e. that both methods are equally good.

Robert's way, the way I understand it, sounds similar to Mark Baxter's and Brett Manning's, so I'd say he's in good company. Note that I never said that he teaches exactly the same stuff as those 2 guys. I'm just talking to breath support and rib expansion. I know that he has lots of cool ideas of his own. Good discussion.

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Well, I think that if you can sing a fair amount of high, powerful notes during rehearsals or gigs, some of them with grit, perhaps, and not lose your range after singing those notes, and being able to speak perfectly fine the day after and your throat doesn't hurt - then your method of supporting, be it a focus on the larynx or the diaphragm/abs, ribs expanding conciously or not, is good. I think it could be two means to the same end, i.e. that both methods are equally good.

Robert's way, the way I understand it, sounds similar to Mark Baxter's and Brett Manning's, so I'd say he's in good company. Note that I never said that he teaches exactly the same stuff as those 2 guys. I'm just talking to breath support and rib expansion. I know that he has lots of cool ideas of his own. Good discussion.

the trick is to avoid engaging the throat by keeping it open and relaxed. (easier said than done) i envision myself a baloon and the vocal folds are the part at the top of the baloon you hold with your fingers when you don't want the air to escape. hey, i keep trying.

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I never, nor do I teach my students to become fixated on "keeping your ribs expanded"...

I'm with you, what's the obsession with the rib thing. If you're breathing correctly everything will happen naturally if you let it and stop trying to manipulate everything. Inhale, don't shrug the shoulders and think down, everything else will happen. Keith Davis use to have a sign on his piano that said 'don't do anything'.

I don't know maybe Im off but I have a very minimalistic view towards singing. In my years of working with some of the biggest singers in the world most of the best have little training and keep it simple. Get out of your own way and don't think so much, let the lyrics drive the boat.

J

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On 12/27/2009 at 4:59 AM, James Lugo said:

 

I'm with you, what's the obsession with the rib thing. If you're breathing correctly everything will happen naturally if you let it and stop trying to manipulate everything. Inhale, don't shrug the shoulders and think down, everything else will happen. Keith Davis use to have a sign on his piano that said 'don't do anything'.

 

I don't know maybe Im off but I have a very minimalistic view towards singing. In my years of working with some of the biggest singers in the world most of the best have little training and keep it simple. Get out of your own way and don't think so much, let the lyrics drive the boat.

 

J

Some of the biggest singers in the world that use minimal technique have naturally good voices. What do you tell people that sound horrible, “Just sound like so and so”? People that just don’t have it need techniques and practice. Many teachers are stuck in one method which may work for some and not as well for others. Too many teachers saying, this is what I do with all of my students. A great vocal coach has a deep all around understanding and can apply specific technique individually not just developed a cookie cutter method.

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25 minutes ago, Dawgrit said:

What do you tell people that sound horrible,

    Listen to your voice. Pay attention to what makes the "Good" singers sound good to you. and adjust your own singing to incorporate those things that "You" think makes a difference. 

    There are basic things that help all singers. The breath thing is about having enough breath movement to produce a solid tone and not too much air movement to keep the vocal cords from making good contact. Being able to control the breath flow is a good thing no matter how you sound now.

    Being able to adjust your pitch is VITAL to singing. Practice matching pitches with whatever instrument you can find that will give a steady pitch that you can use to gauge how well you match pitches. Work with different vowels instead of using the same vowel for each exercise. Experiment with other tones and "emotional expressions". Sing while using a happy voice, sing while using a sad voice, sing while using an angry voice etc. All of these things use different coordinations of the voice that can help in certain Pitch areas and different styles of music.

    If something does not sound "Right" try something different.....Record. Pay attention. Change things. Rerecord. Listen. Pay attention to what changed and which sounded better. Work in your COMFORT RANGE first. Get that sounding better.

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