My voice teacher in grad school would always say that unlike instrumentalists, singers are not able to objectively look at our instrument. So the development of our imagination is crucial to how we “play” it. If your goal is to play your instrument to it’s potential, then opening your imagination to conceive of your singing technique in new and different ways is essential. Today I’ve got a new image for you that will stabilize your breath support. If you are a singer who has ever struggled to get through a long phrase. . . . If you are a singer who has ever experienced tension and strain as pitch rises. . . . If you are a singer who has ever struggled with stamina. . . . This one’s for you!! You just need some better tools to stabilize your breath support. I bring you this image courtesy of two of the great vocalists of the last century. Thomas Hampson, one of the great baritone voices of the last 50yrs, and Richard Miller, a vocal pedagogy pioneer, voice teacher (at my alma mater) and author of the seminal book on singing technique “The Structure Of Singing”. Both Hampson and
Having a present moment sensory awareness of your body while you sing is a MAJOR key ingredient to your ability to take your singing to that next level. One thing I know for sure: you can not change what you are not aware of. So an essential component of singing to your potential, and the thing that has the biggest effect on how successful you are in doing so, is your ability to be present to ALL the sensations of your singing in your body in the moment (both the efficient and the inefficient). Rather then writing a lengthy blog, today I’m pulling back the curtain and taking you inside my studio to be a fly on the wall as I work with one of my students on this very thing – returning to the present moment sensory awareness of her body while singing. In today’s video you will learn one of the exact step-by-step methods I use (that you can use too!) linking present moment sensory awareness to your vocal technique. Spoiler alert! This video isn’t filled with sexy high notes, power belting or fast passage work designed to impress you. Nope. This is the nitty-gritty work. It ain’t
Lately I’ve been noticing just how much confusion and frustration singers have around breath support and breathing for singing. Singers can get SO down on themselves when they don’t feel their breath is beneath them. Do you relate? You’re tired of the fear of not making it to the end of the phrase. You wonder why your high notes feel strained. You’re frustrated when you don’t consistently sing the way you want to. You start blaming yourself that it’s all your fault you don’t really have what it takes. You start wondering if you are talented enough to be on this path. The Inner Critic runs riot when, in reality. . . . . it’s not your fault! It ALL comes down to breath support. And you just haven’t been given the right tools to unlock the foundation of your support yet. In my 20 years of helping singers and being a professional singer myself, I’ve discovered this: The key to unlocking the foundation of good singing starts with getting under the hood to understand a few simple concepts about the physiology of breath support and sound. It’s a step that SO often gets skipped. But that stops today!! Now
Running out of breath when singing a long phrase is SO frustrating! No matter what genre you sing, I think most of us have had the experience. There’s always that one phrase in that one song that gets you every time. I remember a specific piece that used to give me so much anxiety because there was one long phrase I could never make it through no matter how hard I tried. Do you relate? I wish I knew then what I know now. I’ve come to understand that if I’m running out of breath when singing a long phrase, the issue is not what’s happening during the actual phrase. The problem usually lays in what’s happening with my breath and support BEFORE that phrase – often many, many bars before it. When I’m so laser focused on the actual long phrase, I fail to notice how my singing and breathing in the bars prior to it might be sabotaging my ability to sustain it once I get there. In today’s video, I work with a singer on getting present to why she’s running out of breath when singing a long phrase. Watch the transformation as she backs up, understands
Today I’m bringing you two short and sweet technical tips to help you achieve a more reliable breath support. To improve your breath support, it all begins with words. That’s right. . . . not the air, not your diaphragm, not your lungs. . . . words! The words we use to direct ourselves in our technique and around our support REALLY matter. Changing words shifts understanding. A new understanding shifts mindset. And a new mindset results in a new physical response which helps your body work for you instead of against you in accessing your most efficient singing technique. I love clever life hacks (who knew a balled up piece of tin foil makes a great substitute for steel wool??). Consider these breath support tips my version of clever singing hacks. They are achieved by merely changing a few words! Watch the video. And if you’d like a more in depth understanding of how to achieve proper breath support for singing, check out some of my earlier posts and accompanying videos on the topic: “How To Sing With Appoggio” has really good explanations and exercises for how to find and feel your support correctly in your body. Understanding and
Dispelling myths about breath support is like taking a sledgehammer to a cracked foundation. I think most architects would agree that when it comes to building a house, getting the foundation right is the most important part. Without it, the building will not stand (at least not for long!). In the very same way, our breath support is the foundation of our singing. It is from this support that our sound maintains stability. Yet it seems for SO many singers (even those who have had tons of training) a truly solid understanding of this foundation remains elusive. Unfortunately there’s a lot of misleading and contradictory information out there which only serves to confuse more. So in this blog post, I’m going to try to address what I find to be the two most common myths about breath support. Myth #1 – You should breathe into your belly. Noooooooo! When I see these words on paper this technique looks even more ridiculous. Breathe into my belly? I’m pretty sure I don’t have lungs in my belly. If you’ve heard this, it’s because someone has noticed you are taking shallow breaths which pull your chest and shoulders up. The things is,
Do you ever feel like your breathing for singing doesn’t work the way you want it to? Do you ever feel like you understand how your breath support is supposed to happen, but then it fails you when you get into a phrase? It could be that you are ignoring one VERY important element of your singing technique that could make all the difference in the world: Your back! In today’s blog video I explain why the back is so essential in breathing for singing and supporting your sound. Once I became aware of my back and understood how to use it when I sing, everything became easier. If you’ve never paid attention to this part of your body in your singing, hold onto your shirt cause everything is about to become a whole lot better! Watch now and learn: Exercises for how to access the full expansion of your back on the inhale Understanding why you shouldn’t focus on your front body when you breathe Exercises for how to employ your back to sing longer phrases without getting out of breath How using your back will help you achieve a clearer resonance And so much more . . .
Breathing For Singing Is Way Easier When You Stop Taking A Breath! What if I said that your singing will dramatically improve if you stop actively taking breaths? You would probably think I was nuts. But hear me out. . . . . I hate the phrase “take a breath”. It implies a certain violence – a grabbing, a taking, a fast manipulation to pull as much air into the body as possible in the shortest amount of time. This inevitably creates tension in the ribs, in the muscles of the abdomen, in the muscles of the neck and throat that surround the larynx and tension in the jaw. In my experience, excess tension in a singer’s body is the number one saboteur of a good sound. By “taking” or grabbing a breath, you are setting up the rest of the phrase you’re about to sing from a place of tension rather then from a place of open release. The ensuing phrase will suffer because you receive much less air then you would if the body was free, open, soft and released during the inhale. Additionally, if you breathe with tension in your neck, throat and abdomen, that tension inevitably continues
A Tip On The Anatomy Of Breath Support How many of you have been told to “use your diaphragm!” by a voice professional? I want to let you in on a little secret . . .you can’t actually “use” your diaphragm. It’s a futile request. While the diaphragm is an essential muscle for breath support and for the production of sound, you can’t actually direct your diaphragm to do anything because it is an involuntary muscle. Just like another very important involuntary muscle in our body, the heart, the diaphragm has an essential job to do, but we cannot directly control it. Telling a singer to “use your diaphragm!” is like telling an athlete to “pump your heart!” It’s an impossible request and contributes to much confusion around the nature of breath support for singing. The diaphragm is a dome shaped muscle at the bottom of your ribcage that separates your thorax (where your heart and lungs live) from your abdomen (where your digestive organs live). When you inhale, this dome-shaped diaphragm contracts downwards flattening out. When this happens, the volume of the thoracic cavity increases, a vacuum is activated and air is then drawn into the lungs. It’s the
In this video I explain two techniques to help eliminate feeling tight and out of breath while singing. There’s nothing worse then worrying that you will run out of air before the end of the phrase. Understanding breath support is one of the main issues that confounds singers no matter how long you’ve been singing. The two elements I explain in this video will help you form a more consistent understanding and foundation for your breath support while singing.