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Magic Choral Trick #68 Breathing stuff – is breathing really the problem?

The other day I had another singer say to me “Maybe I can come and take some lessons from you and you can help me with my breathing”

This is almost always amateur singers’ first concern.

Good news and slightly more difficult news.

If you can walk across a room without wheezing, and if you can finish a sentence when you’re speaking – without gulping extra air, then breathing is not actually the biggest issue with your singing.

The most likely cause of running out of breath too soon is that air is escaping in the sound. If you listen to a recording of yourself, you’ll hear a slight hissing, or hhhhhaaaaaaaaaa, or ‘Happy Birthday Mr President’ in your sound.

It’s also possible that you’re trying for more volume than you can manage.

What the voice needs is more laser beam focus.

The slightly more difficult news I mentioned is that there’s no quick fix for breathiness, because it involves retraining the mind. We need to reprogram ourselves to think Narrow Narrow Narrow when we’re forming any singing mouth shape.

The mind also needs to be very clear about the pure vowel that we’re singing.

An interesting exercise that can help us experience more focus is this:

Take in a deep breath

Let it all out

Without taking in another breath – sing a phrase.

Because the body thinks that it’s an emergency, and that you could die – it focuses the sound for you, because it doesn’t want you using up that last tiny bit of oxygen.

Forward placement, clarity of vowel and singing through a narrow column will eventually get rid of breathiness in the sound. Once the fuzziness starts to go, it tends to leave in one vowel before all the others. That vowel placement can then be used as a template for the rest.

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