How to Use Your Diaphragm & Other Tips for Singers

Singing professionally involves more than simply opening the mouth and letting loose with a melodious song. Professional singers usually have the gift of a beautiful voice. However, this innate artistry is not enough. Professional vocalists often spend numerous years training in and learning this craft. For example, knowing how to breathe correctly and how to utilize the diaphragm are integral parts of the singing process. Even after developing this proficiency, a vocalist needs to break into the business to begin working in their craft.

Inhalation without involvement of the diaphragm requires usage of the vocal cords to determine the following exhalation rate. As this occurs repeatedly, the vocal cords and the throat will experience fatigue and tension. The end result of failure to involve the diaphragm in breathing is often shortness of breath, which can greatly reduce a vocalist's singing ability. Breathing from the diaphragm helps produce a steady flow of air moving in and out of the body. With inhalation, the lungs press down, which moves the diaphragm down. This downward pressure forces the breathing to truly come from the diaphragm and not just the lungs.

Deep breathing is not enough to excel as a professional singer, however. As a singer gains proficiency with this method of breathing, some fine-tuning must occur. The vocalist will learn how to continue the downward pressure on the diaphragm with exhalation. A singer must remain constantly vigilant to ensure continued breathing from the diaphragm. With deep inhalations, the singer should feel a downward motion that helps regulate airflow. Standing in front of a mirror while singing can often provide clues about whether singing is involving the diaphragm. Inhalation and exhalation while singing should not involve the shoulders moving up and down. If pressure and fatigue in the throat occurs, this is a telltale sign that the vocal cords are tiring. Fatigued vocal cords often happen when a singer is not utilizing the diaphragm correctly. Concentrated relaxation will help the lower ribs expand, which then helps with range and voice strength. Even the way a singer opens the mouth can have a significant impact on sound.

Like other muscles, the diaphragm will build strength with use. To maintain a strong and effective diaphragm, a singer must use it daily. When learning these skills, the diaphragm may not work to its full potential. However, with regular training and effort, it's possible to train and develop a strong diaphragm that will make both inhalation and exhalation powerful and effective for projection of the voice. Daily breathing exercises can be beneficial for training the singer and building a strong diaphragm.

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