Breath control is about so much more than just taking a deep breath. It is about maintaining a controlled, steady stream of air while singing. Many singers face the same question: Why do I run out of breath very soon though I take deep breaths? Breath control for singers is rarely about inhaling more. What matters is how you control your exhalation. Conscious breath control is a useful tool for achieving a relaxed and clear state of mind.
Healthy lungs, strong and healthy body along with proper posture are the main ingredients to make an effective singer. Proper breathing techniques not only aid in effective singing but also in maintaining a healthy body and reducing shortness of breath symptoms, strengthening the immune system, reducing blood pressure, improving recovery following an exercise routine, improving concentration and memory and many more benefits.
There are some simple exercises and breathing techniques that go into the making of a good voice and good singer.
- The process of taking in the air is inhalation. Inhalation for singing is faster and deeper than inhalation at rest.
- Inhalation has to be effortless: There is no need to push or squeeze air into the body.
- Be aware of the way you inhale air. Breathe deeply from your lower lungs. Allow the air to fill your lungs, now place a finger over your mouth and say “shhh”. Once all the air has been used up, relax and exhale automatically. Practice this method at least five times. This helps in activating the muscles that control the amount of air that is released.
- Practice slow breathing. Inhale slowly counting to 20. Now exhale slowly counting to 20. This helps in controlling the amount of air that is released while singing and avoids putting out sudden bursts of air.
- Breathe in for four counts, completely fill your lungs with air in this timeframe, now let out the air using “SSSSS”, hissing like a snake.
- Think of your body as an instrument. Exerting unnecessary tension can affect the way you sing. The ability to take in large quantities of air allows to sing long and complicated phrases in a controlled manner.
- Make use of this ability by breathing deeply, allow the lungs to fully inflate as the diaphragm lowers into the stomach.
- Lie on the floor horizontally. Breathe in and breathe out through the mouth for five seconds. Observe the stomach movements meanwhile. Does it rise and fall while inhaling deeply?
- Practice the technique of Pranayama. The word Prana refers not only to breath, but also to air and life itself. Inhale through the nose for four seconds, hold this breath for eight seconds, now exhale slowly for eight seconds. There must be no tension in the throat muscles in this process.
- Practice the art of snatching a breath quickly in between phrases while singing. This can be achieved through Kapalabhaati or panting. The stomach moves in and out in quick succession. Try doing this silently without exerting yourself.
- Develop an ability to control the escape of breath while singing long continuous phrases, where there is no opportunity to take in a breath. Once a breath is taken in, exhalation should be gradual and not all of a sudden, because it may cause tension when there is not enough breath to produce a consistent sound. The stomach must remain in a full-feeling condition you experience when a breath is taken in. To achieve this: Hold a lit candle in front of your face. Take a deep breath in. Now exhale gently. Take care not to blow out the flame. When you exhale gently, the flame might flicker, which is expected. The stomach must be kept in a full-feeling position throughout. Continue till the breath has fully escaped and be relaxed in the entire process. Producing optimal air pressure is the secret for breath control.
A form of music that needs good amount of breath control is Rapping. As we know, rapping is a musical form of vocal delivery that has rhythmic speech, rhyme and is performed in the vernacular language, chanted in various ways, usually along with some form of musical accompaniment. Rap is usually delivered over a beat and is a blend of speech, prose, poetry and singing.
Riyaz comes with ‘Breath monitor’ to help you practice holding breath for longer durations. Click the button below on your mobile to access this right away and practice controlling your breath.
“The mind is the king of the senses, but the breath is the king of the mind.”