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Breath support - too much pressure, where is the problem?

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krethh
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Hi there,

so basically my problem is with breath support and I can't seem to find anyone having the same issue. I've always tried to figure out how to ensure proper breath support and I found out that

- some teachers (Phil Moufarrege for example) say that breath support is essentially keeping your ribs out

- some teachers (e.g. Daniel Formica) position the support around the lower abs, like a constant outward motion.

My problem is that the first "style" leaves me with enough air to actually sing, but it seems to have no effect on my higher notes. As I ascend in pitch the support just goes away. ( though it seems to help in my lower range).

On the other hand, trying to engage my back muscles and the lower abs more cuts off virtually all air, so it sounds really strained and there's no way I can sing high. The pressure in my body is very strong then.

As a result, the only way I can belt around A4-C5 is when actually making no effort to "support" the tone or "breathe diaphragmatically", but although the tone is rather strong, I have very little command over the sound color and sound rather strained.

I'm therefore asking for an explanation on what I might be doing wrong. Thank you in advance for any comments.

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krethh,

Breath support is the right ratio of air pressure and airflow for a given note. How you achieve that various a lot. The breathing mechanism is highly dynamic and complex which is why you get different viewpoints from different teachers.

In my opinion, the number one source of confusion in regards to "support" lies entirely in it's definition in regards to voice production (phonation). :)

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krethh,

this tightening and straining and closing off at the throat occurs when you try to engage support incorrectly.

when you need to support very firmly (not always...but let's say when you need to) you expand the ribs and the back and actively control the return of the diaphragm.

if you aren't doing this correctly (for a number of reasons) you will end up tensing the throat or finding that you're using the vocal folds as a pressure seal........you don't want that....

when you do it correctly, you can expand your back and ribs yet speak or sing very comfortably. there's a disengagement you have to make so you can apply your support while the vocal tract remains open and free.

this is a more advanced type of support you must work up to.

support is all about balance and control and varies depending on your vocal intention.

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my support around the lower abs with constant outward motion is not done separately its done by the cords doing their job efficiently and creating that motion by stoping the air from rushing out of my mouth. like laughing its a natural not forced. in other words the

'support" happens because of phonation

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The "stomach out" thing is to get the diaphram to a lower position on inhale.

The "ribs out" thing is to help the diaghram from returning to the at rest postion too fast.

The control is the lower abs. Natural recoil should produce enough air pressure for sound production.

The gas pedal or pressure control is the lower Abs or stomach muscles.

You need air flow for the vocal folds to vibrate.

You should not need "Active Support" until you pass the point of pressure needed to produce desired sound.

Higher sound needs more Air pressure and less air. The ribs Open should help the air from escaping too quickly but you need an inward and upward push from the lower abs to create enough pressure.

I am no teacher and do not have a handle on this from practical experience. But this makes sense to me. I can and have been proven wrong in the past.

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krethk, save the hassle and take a lesson with a teacher. I'm just going to go out on a limb and say support is IMPOSSIBLE to learn quickly without a teacher's help if you don't already have it naturally. Without a teacher's supervision in learning it you'd be better off just using air the same way you do intuitively, which is exactly what you are experiencing now. But with a teacher guiding you, you can make adjustments and they won't be the wrong ones. But youtube videos will NOT do the trick.

You see, like most self-taught students you are already misinterpreting basic concepts. Pretty much everybody does this and it simply stems from the fact that you don't know much about singing so you have to guess what teachers mean when they explain things. But to explain stuff like support correctly involves you being there, trying it, and then the teacher fixing your inevitable misinterpretations.

In your original post you just completely misinterpreted the support methods of both of those teachers. You forgot that Phil adds tensing of the belly for high notes (and then you have to be instructed how to tense it, it's sort of down and in, and also that it's a balance, you don't overdo it, and that it's moreso on high notes etc. etc.)

but even after reading that^ - you're still gonna do it wrong because there's way more ways to do it wrong than right, especially when you are overthinking things.

As for Dan although I have not learned support for him in a lesson, I highly doubt what you described is what he actually recommends. I've never heard him recommend to push the lower abs outwards nor have I heard any singing teacher recommend that. The support video on his youtube does not recommend that if I remember correctly and instead talks about correct support, comparing it to laughing, clarify that it doesn't mean a huge deep squeezed sound, and demonstrates what you see visually (which is more of an outward motion around the upper abs/lower ribs and back) but still does not explain it fully because you just can't over a youtube video. But again here with Dan's approach you're definitely making a huge misinterpretation especially since whatever you're doing, you notice it makes you cut back way too much air and strain.

BY THE WAY - I'm talking entirely about what happens on the exhale. To me, support has nothing to do with the inhale. The inhale is simply taking a good breath. That's diaphragmatic breathing. Do not confuse that with support. Support is controlling the exhale (roughly).

So when you say push the lower abs out, that's actually more like what happens on the inhale (in some methods of inhaling), but you do not actively do that when you start exhaling!!!! Always make the clarification between the inhale and the exhale, they are not the same.

By the way, support is always in motion, never locked. Just wanted to throw that in, another important factor that beginners tend to forget. Also that it should still feel free in the throat despite the tension down there (easier said than done, takes some long term development to isolate the two)

STILL...learn this in person from a teacher who knows what they're doing (over skype is fine), or expect to remain confused for years. Sounds harsh but that's just the truth, I wouldn't lie to you. I've experienced that lingering confusion myself.

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I've never heard him recommend to push the lower abs outwards

ive watched dans support video. what he's saying is if you put your hand in the soft area between your hips and rib cage, that area goes outward(the free floating ribs), as well as your solar plexus. im not if it's a push or not though.

in other words the

'support" happens because of phonation

i think you only get their once the mechanism of proper support is in your muscle memory. i know for me if i just focus on sustaining a note without doing anything in the lower core its going to be breathy and won't last long.

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Thank you for your help. You've really clarified the issue for me, especially MDEW's post.

@Owen Korzec

I actually know both of these concepts. As for Daniel's method, basically I meant doing what he shows in the "Support" video on his site, my wording might have been unclear since I'm not a native English speaker.

I think I will adhere to your advice.

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Thank you for your help. You've really clarified the issue for me, especially MDEW's post.

@Owen Korzec

I actually know both of these concepts. As for Daniel's method, basically I meant doing what he shows in the "Support" video on his site, my wording might have been unclear since I'm not a native English speaker.

I think I will adhere to your advice.

Why are you saying you know both of these concepts? Maybe it is a language thing.

I'm talking about really knowing, as in having success with it physically, not just knowing about the information. Because you don't truly know the information about how to support correctly until you learn how to apply it and get it working physically in your voice. You need to experience a successful sensation in your body in order to really know what these teachers mean when they are teaching support. If you're trying to apply these sensations and they are resulting in unsuccessful technique/singing, that means you're doing them wrong and therefore you don't actually know the concepts. Does that make sense? Knowing in your head what a teacher said in a video means absolutely nothing, that is a far cry from truly "knowing" a technique. It's not enough to just attempt it on your own, decide it doesn't work, and then decide that the teacher doesn't know what their talking about. They do. They just can't explain these sensations in ways that every single person in the world is going to understand right away. You have to work with the coach and get individual help so they can show you how to do it correctly for your voice so that it actually helps you, and that is when you will finally know the concept.

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I understand your point Owen. I mean that I know about the elements of the techniques mentioned in your first post, just wanted to keep it short since most people would be familiar with them.

I do also understand that a lesson with a competent teacher would be the best option, but while I'm not financially able to have one, I search for different solutions.

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i think at first at least, it's more helpful to practice support with just breathing then trying to apply it right away to singing. additionally, it takes time and practice to get the coordination for support down, likely longer without a coach guiding you.

try these exercises:

a soft hissing sound, like a SSSSS for an extended period of time but try to not use your teeth to hold it back too much.

exhaling very slowly and silently.

say ha but extend the aaaa which is basically what dan recommended.

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I kind of get Owen's point in his reponses, which is not meant to diss the op or any one who studies on his own. But if learning it from just the words or a tutorial video were to be effective, there would be no need for this thread other than to recommend the video as the final answer.

As opposed to a teacher who can watch you and hear you actively and make the minor and subtle adjustments. However, every one learns differently.

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you won't feel like you have to "move around a break" either.

Oh man I remember when the passaggio always felt like this...I was totally going about it wrong.

Now it just feels like chest is point A, head is point B (or vice versa) and I'm traveling straight from point A to point B. And depending on the intensity and bridging point, the location of those points change and I have to adjust the entire path accordingly to keep it smooth.

It would never work without support though because you'd just fly off the path every time

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By your description, you are most likely "calling out" the end f the tessitura. Then either the airflow is minimal and emission pressed, or you will flip (break).

The approach must be coherent all around. Resonantal adjustment together with the proper breathing coordination. Otherwise, doing the proper breathing posture and keeping the same resonance "set up",you will try to continue on chest voice, and above A4 that will be a huge effort with minimal returns.

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