Singing with diaphragm
I am sure you have heard people say "Breathe with your diaphragm when you sing" or "Sing from your diaphragm." However, what exactly do they mean by breathing or singing with your diaphragm? How can your diaphragm breathe when breathing is supposed to be the work of your lungs?
One of the main foundations when learning singing is to learn how to breathe correctly so that you are able to control your breathing when you are singing. Once you master your breath control or breathing technique, you will then be able to hold your notes well as well as improving your tonal quality when you sing. We are all born with correct breathing capabilities.
As babies, we yelled and screamed and can be heard from very far away even though our lungs were very small then. Our voices resonated far and wide. Why is that so? It is because we used our lungs and our sound production resonant naturally and effectively.
As we get older, we became lazy as we only use the upper part of our lungs, taking in shallow breaths instead of making optimum use of our lungs. Furthermore we lost the ability to use our natural resonator properly and thus lost our sound projection ability as well as our good voice timbre. As such, we need to unlearn the bad breathing habits with the correct vocal exercises.
Surrounding your lungs is a muscular system called the diaphragm which is attached to the lower, sides, bottom and back of your ribs. When you breathe in, the diaphragm muscle lowers and displace your internal organs.
When you breathe out the diaphragm helps to bring in the muscles around the lungs (abdominal muscles) to control how quickly the breath is exhaled just like an accordion squeezing out air in a consistent way.
If you breathe out fast, the diaphragm does nothing and just sits pretty. When you breathe out very slowly, the diaphragm resists the contraction of the abdominal muscles. A good singer will then use this diaphragm muscular system to control the singing breath as it is being exhaled.
Hold your index finger about an inch from your lips and breathe out slowly and try to notice the action of the diaphragm as you exhale. This should be the amount of breath used when you sing.
A singer do not need to 'push' or 'force' air through the vocal cords to produce a good strong or loud sound, doing this will create a lot of air pressure against the vocal folds may damage the vocal cords.
Your tummy should move inward or contract when you exhale. It should not be intentionally sucked in because by doing so, it will prevent the diaphragm from working naturally as it should. Instead the abdominal area should remain expanded to the level it was when you inhaled and allowed to gradually decrease naturally at the end of the singing breath.
This is where the excellent singing controlled breathing happens. The singer expands the lungs by inhaling and controls the amount of air expelled when singing by allowing the diaphram muscular support system to expand.
The sensation you get feels as though your tummy is slowly blown up like a balloon when the air goes into your lungs. In short, this is what is meant when people say, "Sing from your diaphragm".
The theory is easy to understand, but it requires a lot of vocal exercises and practices to internalize this correct breathing technique until it becomes a sub-conscious breathing habit of a good singer. Click here to learn how to sing effortlessly and make your singing voice soar.