• We breathe in rather slowly and breathe out
• Everyday breathing is rather shallow.
Breathing for singing
• We breathe in rather quickly and breathe
out very slowly compared to normal
breathing – prolonged exhalation for
• Deeper breaths are required.
• Long, controlled exhalation for singing is
achieved by breath support – setting up a
resistance between the intercostal muscles
(between the ribs) and the abdomenal
muscles, so that the air is pressurized in our
Four Steps in Breathing for
• First step – if it’s not correct, the other steps won’t
• Postural alignment important – to feel lengthened,
and not pull the head back as you breathe.
• Breathe through nose and mouth.
• Helpful images: Breathe as though you are smelling
a flower and starting a little yawn (not a full yawn).
This will encourage the jaw to relax, a gentle lift in
the palate, and a feeling of openess in the throat.
• Breath moves in, down to the lungs, and out around
the middle of the body (in, down and out).
• Feeling of expansion around the middle of the the
body in 3 areas: the ribs, the back and the abdomen.
• Breathing should be noiseless.
• Avoid taking too much air in – amount of air
depends on the musical phrase.
• The split second before you sing when you
set up the equilibrium between the
breathing-in and breathing-out mechanism
necessary for breath support.
• Not a part of normal breathing
3. Controlled Exhalation
• The best way to gain control of the exhalation of
air, is to try to maintain the expansion around the
middle of the body – in the upper abdomen, lower
ribs, and the back as you sing, - to resist
collapsing as you sing.
• The sternum must find a moderately high position
and retain this throughout inspiration and
expiration. If the sternum lowers, the ribs cannot
maintain an expanded position.
• Brief moment when all the muscles
associated with breathing relax.
• Used when a quick breath is needed
• Important to get air passages completely
open so there is nothing to restrict the flow
of air – drop jaw and breathe in as though
you have been surprised or startled.
• Also, it’s possible to shorten the final note
of the previous phrase
Main Faults of Breathing for
1. Chest Breathing (Clavicular Breathing)
2. Rib Breathing only
3. Back Breathing only
4. Belly Breathing only
5. Hypofunctional breathing & breath support
6. Hyperfunctional breathing & breath support
1. Clavicular Breathing (Chest
• Chest rises during inhalation and falls
• Present in many beginning students.
• Establish good posture
• Encourage the student to breathe more
deeply (in, down and out) and to maintain
the expansion as they sing.
2. Rib Breathing
• Some element of truth
• Ribs expand, but there is no expansion in
back and upper abdomen
• Abdomen is often sucked in.
• Release postural tension and encourage
upper abdomen expansion while inhaling
3. Back Breathing
• Back is expanded, but there is no expansion
in the ribs or upper abdomen.
• Encourage frontal expansion, as well as
expansion around the sides and back.
4. Belly Breathing
• Characterized by pushing out the lower
• Often accompanied by squeezing the chest
• Establish and maintain good posture (sternum
• Encourage the student to feel expansion in the
area of the intercostal muscles between the
ribs as well as all around the middle.
5. Hypofunctional breathing and
• Failing to demand enough energy of the
• Failure to take enough breath deep into the
lungs and to activate the support.
• Use exercises such as panting, or laughing
like Santa Claus (Ho, Ho, Ho) to encourage
6. Hyperfunctional breath and
• Demanding too much physical activity of the
breathing and support mechanism.
• Too much tension
• Reduce tension
• Discourage overbreathing and trying too hard.
• Encourage student to take a comfortable, deep
breath and to use it efficiently.
Good Breathing for singing
• There should be a gentle expansion all the way around the
middle of the body as one breathes, and an expansion
downward deep within your body, that seems to stretch like
• The expansion created by the inspiration should be
maintained as much as possible when one begins to sing.
• There should be a resistance against collapsing the
• One should also feel the abdomenal muscles deep in the
lower abdomen contracting.
• A resistance/antagonism between the intercostal muscles
and the abdomenal muscles is created causing pressurization
of the air in the body. This is called breath support, and
allows for maximum control in singing.