In simple terms, the diaphragm is a singer’s best friend. In scientific terms, the diaphragm is a sheet of muscle that hugs onto the bottom of your lungs. Singing requires breath support from the diaphragm, using the muscle to force air from the lungs and through to the voice. It is imperative to strengthen and understand this muscle to be a better singer!
GPS your diaphragm:
Feel around the bottom of your ribcage and find your diaphragm muscles (they connect around your torso). To get a real feel for its location and movement, lie on your back and place a pillow or book on your tummy. Push the object’s weight up using the muscles in your stomach and simultaneously draw air into your lungs and sing.
Strengthening your diaphragm:
Once you’ve learned to activate the diaphragm correctly, you need to get as much power into it as possible. Try a “milkshake balloon breath” – pretend you’re sucking in through a straw and filling a balloon in your stomach. Remember to keep your shoulders and chest still and hold your hand on your stomach to notice the movement.
Here at MANHATTAN MUSIC, we endorse hissing and counting breathing exercises in our vocal lessons to give the breath a stamina workout.
Hissing: Take a huge “milkshake balloon breath”, then slowly let out your air on a hiss sounding like a snake, mimicking a tyre deflating. Time how many seconds it takes to empty your breath.
Counting: Take a huge “milkshake balloon breath”, then count to ten as many times as you can as fast as you can on the breath. Calculate your score in hundreds until all air is used.
Diaphragm in performance:
Simplistic breathing exercises are of upmost importance before performance as they wake up and relax the diaphragm and stimulate the correct muscles for use. It also calms the body from jittery nerves and cultivates control for the voice.
Try this technique called the 4-5-8: Inhale on a count of four, hold that breath for a count of five and exhale for a count of eight.
You are now on your way to singing from your diaphragm! To maximise your singing journey, enquire about our vocal lessons, we’d love to have a chat. If you’re located in Greensborough, Eltham, Montmorency, Research, Diamond Creek, Bundoora, Briar Hill, Doncaster, Doreen, South Morang, Templestowe or anywhere else, we can help you get the best out of your voice. It is indeed life changing!