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a non-academic explanation of "breath support."

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i would like to post this as an aid to those folks who maybe get a little confused with all the different terminology and definitions for what i consider to be the foundation of great singing, "breath support."

here, in plain language, is my perception of what it feels like:

1. the lower abdomen seems like it's filled with compressed air during singing all the way to the lower back.

2. there is a feeling like your exhale is suspended and can be suspended for an unusual amount of time.

3. it feels like you can stop at any point in an exhale (even at the end) and before inhaling a new breath, still generate the pressure required to hit a note.

4. it can feel like no air was used to sing, particularly on loud, full voice high notes.

5. you can litterally feel like you've lost the ability to exhale.

5. you feel empowered, like any note is possible or any duration is possible.

6. when you have engaged the support somehow you have drawn yourself away from your throat area, so that the vocal chords stretch or adjust independent from the throat. it's as if the throat is a passive cylinder holding up your head and the vocal chords are nowhere near that cylinder. the vocal chords almost seem like adjustable valves, free to be altered.

again, this is just my perception and explanation of what it feels like.

i'd like to know how it feels (in your own words) to you?

thanks

bob

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it's the damn thing i have to master lol... as i have always push to hard, i have hard time not getting old bad habits when i sing in the midlle range... On good days, when i am proud of myself i realize that i didn't care of breath support...

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it's the damn thing i have to master lol... as i have always push to hard, i have hard time not getting old bad habits when i sing in the midlle range... On good days, when i am proud of myself i realize that i didn't care of breath support...

when you get to a point where you "feel" like no air is needed to sing, it's an awesome feeling.

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i actually discovered this feeling last night when doing my "crazy" clip thats in the critique section.

the feeling showed up on some parts in the song, and i was like "what the hell is this?"

i'm trying to figure out how i can reconstruct this feeling on any song.

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it's the damn thing i have to master lol... as i have always push to hard, i have hard time not getting old bad habits when i sing in the midlle range... On good days, when i am proud of myself i realize that i didn't care of breath support...

oh man, i relate. i was (past tense) a master at pushing tons of air against my chords.

why? because i equated pressure and pushing with volume and intensity.

this was me:

"oh boy, here comes that long, intense high note...brace for it, blow up your lungs with air, because you have to hold out the note, and now push!!!"

so wrong...lol!!! i was such an ass...lol!!!

if this helps, don't view singing as inhaling and exhaling (like we do normally to exist..lol)..try to look at it like inhaling deep, then "placing", not pushing the air into the chords relative to the intention.

the higher the note the less you need.

.

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I think that support/breath control must be one of those things that you continually re-learn as you progress through your singing journey. I can remember when I thought that just breathing low was support. I can remember when holding back the air was support. Now, my understanding of support is those things, but also a pressure coming from the breathing muscles so that your throat feels completely relaxed. It feels like the sound just comes out of you, and the only effort comes from the heart (and the muscles of the core, back and ribs ;))

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Right now I'm having luck with looking at support like this: I inhale by just letting my belly expand. Then, during phonation, I just try to keep my solar plexus in the same spot (not let it drop down and/or in). The solar plexus goes up and out all by itself during inhalation because my belly kind of pushes it up, so it's important not to "lift" it up during inhalation but rather just let it happen. Then I simply keep it in the same place during the sung note. That indirectly makes the muscles in my abs, lower sides and lower back contract with just the right amount of effort.

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Thanks a lot for these vocal techniques. I badly need this while starting with my voice lessons next week.

:)

:)

your teacher will likely give you exercises that will have you building breath support in no time. i'm just a singer, but i personally think it's one of the most important elements to a great voice for powerful, sustained, as well as soft notes.

good luck.

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I feel strongly that way also Bob. For me personally, I have been trying to improve my breath management for some time now and seem to never quit finding ways to improve on it. A lot of the info on this forum has been invaluable. I think there could be a lot more done in the teaching area in many cases.

It seems there are very few people that naturally have it figured out and it is a big problem for most aspiring singers. I started out with SS and MM and found a lot of their programs very helpful, but they pretty much ignore this as a major problem for a lot of people. You can do their exercises all day long, but if you are pushing too much air, you’re not really getting the benefit of the concepts. IMO, they would make their program better by several fold if they would recognize this first and then start to develop training exercises to deal with it.

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I feel strongly that way also Bob. For me personally, I have been trying to improve my breath management for some time now and seem to never quit finding ways to improve on it. A lot of the info on this forum has been invaluable. I think there could be a lot more done in the teaching area in many cases.

It seems there are very few people that naturally have it figured out and it is a big problem for most aspiring singers. I started out with SS and MM and found a lot of their programs very helpful, but they pretty much ignore this as a major problem for a lot of people. You can do their exercises all day long, but if you are pushing too much air, you’re not really getting the benefit of the concepts. IMO, they would make their program better by several fold if they would recognize this first and then start to develop training exercises to deal with it.

thanks quincy,

i found one of the best are jaime vendera's and rodger kains products.

breath support can be called upon as you're singing too for that extra umph! lol

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I have gone back to square one with support.

I am doing the SSS exercise about 10-20 times per day. I expand my lower ribs and take in a reasonable breath (not too much). I then use my body and not my throat to hold the air in place for 30 sec before releasing it as slowly as I can which is generally around 1:10. Having done this for two weeks I can say my voice is now totally non-airy when I sing and it feels like its all correct and 'balanced'.

Where I now badly need assistance is the next step of turning it into active support so that I can sing high notes. As soon as I try to sing notes around/above E above middle C my voice needs something else and I cannot feel what it is that I should do at that point to give these notes this elusive 'support'.

Practical advice please!

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I have gone back to square one with support.

I am doing the SSS exercise about 10-20 times per day. I expand my lower ribs and take in a reasonable breath (not too much). I then use my body and not my throat to hold the air in place for 30 sec before releasing it as slowly as I can which is generally around 1:10. Having done this for two weeks I can say my voice is now totally non-airy when I sing and it feels like its all correct and 'balanced'.

Where I now badly need assistance is the next step of turning it into active support so that I can sing high notes. As soon as I try to sing notes around/above E above middle C my voice needs something else and I cannot feel what it is that I should do at that point to give these notes this elusive 'support'.

Practical advice please!

can you send over a sample?

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addendum:

another cool result of breath training is it improves your "recoil" speed (inhale/exhale speed, how quickly you can take in a breath.) say you're singing a fast paced demanding song, "long, long way from home" comes to mind.

if you have good breath support, you can more quickly take in a gulp even between words and recover so fast the audience dosen't know you have sneaked in another gulp and this quick interim gulp leaves you more positioned to sustain a note if need be or add punch and volume to your phrase.

i love this little challenging exercise below:

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I have gone back to square one with support.

I am doing the SSS exercise about 10-20 times per day. I expand my lower ribs and take in a reasonable breath (not too much). I then use my body and not my throat to hold the air in place for 30 sec before releasing it as slowly as I can which is generally around 1:10. Having done this for two weeks I can say my voice is now totally non-airy when I sing and it feels like its all correct and 'balanced'.

Where I now badly need assistance is the next step of turning it into active support so that I can sing high notes. As soon as I try to sing notes around/above E above middle C my voice needs something else and I cannot feel what it is that I should do at that point to give these notes this elusive 'support'.

Practical advice please!

six20aus: your description of your exercise for support is most excellent, and the results are as I would expect.

The next stage, which begins at the E above middle C, involves the passaggio transition... learning how to let the registration lighten while maintaining tone quality. The support you have learned is correct. You now must continue to apply it while you let adjustments occur.

Here are exercises that you can use in this process:

1) Using a major scale, start on the E below middle C, and sing a slow sclae Ah until the b below middle C, and Oh up to the E. Transpose upward by semitones, and for F# and above, sing a dark oo. Transpose upward, maintaining support.

2) using the voiced consonant th, as in the beginning of the word 'the', slide (siren) slowly from the D below middle C to the d above mid C, and then open to Oh. Transpose upward until Ab, keeping the consonant clear and the support sensations. The goal of this exercise is to sense the subtle changes in laryngeal configuration as you pass the E, and to experience the lightening of the passaggio.

3) Re-do exercise 2, starting on the C below middle C, and replace the vowel oh (on the open) with ee. Notice how the passaggio area for ee begins earlier. You are already in it when you open up to the ee on middle C

That should get you started.

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Hi Steven,

I know I am on the right track with this support exercise because my voice sounds better than it ever has and when I sing I am no longer 'blasting' and wearing out my throat and I now have a natural vibrato which to me means my voice is 'balanced'.

Are you suggesting there is nothing else I need to do to 'support' and the rest of it is just adjustments in the 'how' to sing above middle C ?

What is confusing for me is all this talk of 'power pushing', 'supporting more', 'engaging this' etc. etc.. It makes it sound like there is something I should be doing in order for me to achieve these higher notes and I know that as I go higher I can feel there is something that needs to happen other than just holding back the air or will these adjustments you speak of remove this feeling ?

That is the piece that I am missing in my singing now and the two singing teachers I have been to have not been able to teach me other than givingh vague descriptions like 'breathe down there' or 'tighten your abs' and other useless descriptions.

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Hi Steven,

I know I am on the right track with this support exercise because my voice sounds better than it ever has and when I sing I am no longer 'blasting' and wearing out my throat and I now have a natural vibrato which to me means my voice is 'balanced'.

Are you suggesting there is nothing else I need to do to 'support' and the rest of it is just adjustments in the 'how' to sing above middle C ?

What is confusing for me is all this talk of 'power pushing', 'supporting more', 'engaging this' etc. etc.. It makes it sound like there is something I should be doing in order for me to achieve these higher notes and I know that as I go higher I can feel there is something that needs to happen other than just holding back the air or will these adjustments you speak of remove this feeling ?

That is the piece that I am missing in my singing now and the two singing teachers I have been to have not been able to teach me other than givingh vague descriptions like 'breathe down there' or 'tighten your abs' and other useless descriptions.

six20aus: I think you are already doing what you need to do for support, and now must learn the registrational adjustments which enable the voice in and above the passaggio. Yes, there will be small changes in the sensation of support as you proceed upward, but I don't think you have to 'do' anything differently. Try out the exercises for a few weeks, and let us know how things are working.

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