They told you that in order to sing well you must know how to "use" the diaphragm. They also explained how to do it, and you did a bunch of breathing exercises... "Support here, support there" ... but you feel you have not really understood how to do it!! Or, as much as you can breathe properly, you don't see improvements when you sing songs. Your vocal range has not improved, and the songs you would love to sing are not within your reach!!!
But how important is the use of the diaphragm? Should we directly influence its use? Is the diaphragm the only element to consider in singing? These are the interesting questions I will answer in this article!!!
Let's start with the first question.
HOW IMPORTANT IS THE USE OF THE DIAPHRAGM?
Breathing is a vital process of our body and the diaphragm with its movements is the main muscle in this process.
Breathing is just as important in singing. Breath is the source of the voice. The air we breathe meets the vocal cords, making them vibrate and giving rise to the sound that will then be amplified and "colored" in the vocal tract. To sum up, singing is an expiratory act: we sing on the air we put out!!!
Singing is an expiratory act, so the way we handle the air we put out is important.
How do we manage air? We do it through diaphragm movements.
At this point let's ask ourselves:
should we train our breathing by directly influencing the movements of the diaphragm?
2. SHOULD WE DIRECTLY INFLUENCE THE USE OF THE DIAPHRAGM?
The diaphragm is basically a muscle that acts involuntarily. Suffice it to say that its action continues even when we sleep. Besides that, none of us is thinking about diaphragm movements while talking. The same thing must happen in singing.
In my method the correct use of the voice influences the correct breathing and not vice versa. Why?
Because the vocal cords are the "obstacle" that the flow of air meets while rising from the lungs. And the way in which the vocal cords become thinner and shorter, based on the note we sing, manages the air we breathe out as we sing.
Here's an example. In the first transition from chest voice to head voice, you feel you can't reach the highest note. The voice becomes flat, pressed or shrill. You feel a pressure in the throat, as if the inhaled air stayed all there. In this case what is happening? Didn't you manage your breathing? No, you didn't manage the voice. The vocal cords have not thinned properly (which is why you are flat) and have a hyper-adduction which is a real wall in front of the air flow that is coming out (which is why you feel the pressure in your throat).
So correct breathing is a by-product of the right way to sing, not the main cause.
3. SINGING: NOT ONLY BREATHING
We can't only talk about breathing in singing, ignoring the complexity of the laryngeal muscles involved, which help the vocal cords lengthen, shorten and adduct. Breathing is one of the elements that create vocal balance, but not the main one.
What are these elements? They are AIR, MUSCLE and RESONANCE.
We can explain the balancing of these three elements as a tripod. To balance a tripod, we have to keep the single rods perfectly balanced at the same height. The voice works the same way: it is a balanced combination of these three elements.
Vocal balance is achieved by using specific vocalizes, created based on how the student uses the voice at that moment. If the exercises are properly created, these will regulate breathing without the student having to consciously do anything. One of the tools used to indirectly influence proper breathing through vocalises are consonants. Each consonant regulates the air pressure and consequently the adduction of the vocal cords in a different way. By combining consonants, vowels and specific melodic scales, we help the student manage the voice by becoming familiar with the correct sensation, which he will memorize with the training until it becomes an automatism.
Watch this video with the spontaneous testimonial of one of my students during an online singing lesson via Skype.
At this point, if I have piqued your curiosity, all you have to do is experiment what I am talking about in a practical way. Book a singing lesson with me, in the studio here in Bari or online via Skype and discover how, with simple exercises, you can experience the easy way of singing.