Breath is the foundation of singing. If you’ve taken any type of voice training whether private lessons, a group class, or even choir, I’m sure you have heard this first sentence. You may even remember something about a diaphragm (what is that?!) or singing from your belly.
I’m here to help you understand breath support and why this “foundation” is so important in all voice training. I like to describe our breath as low and open. You might feel an expansion in your lower rib cage, belly area, and lower back as you take a big breath. Yes, we use a muscle called the diaphragm in breathing, but this an involuntary muscle and I find that just knowing and understanding this doesn’t actually aid in correct breath support. The other word I like to think of when focusing on my breath is “relaxed”. A low, open, relaxed breath will help you to get more support for singing longer phrases, sustaining notes, and releasing tension.
Taking time to focus on your breath in warmups, technical exercises, and repertoire can be beneficial to all singers. As a musical theatre artist, looking to the lyric for a clue in where to take a breath and develop clear phrasing is important. Obviously, we don’t want to breathe in the middle of a word, but we also don’t want to breathe in the middle of a phrase if it doesn’t make sense with the lyric. Think about your character, your story, and the lyrics as you develop your voice!
Check out this video for some simple breathing exercises: