What is the first thing you think about when someone talks about the diaphragm?
We know that it can be the cause of hiccups. If you take a chest impact, a deflated diaphragm can make it hard to breathe.
What would happen if you could inflate your diaphragm when singing?
You’d get the opposite result of compression! The air support coming from deep down inside would help project your voice to every corner of the room.
If you learn how to sing from your diaphragm, you’re almost guaranteed to improve your singing voice.
Why Should I Be Singing from My Diaphragm?
When you take vocal lessons for the first time, most teachers talk about singing from the belly, gut, or diaphragm. Although they call it something a little different, they’re all talking about the same thing.
If you sing more from your diaphragm than your lungs or throat, you’ll have more control over your breathing.
Some teachers disagree with this singing methodology. When you press instructors on the techniques needed to hit the best notes, the descriptions are almost the same as what you’ll hear when learning how to sing from your diaphragm.
Instead of getting into a battle of semantics, this singing guide takes you through the different steps you need to follow to learn the skill of singing. You’ll find ways to improve your breathing, keep your vocal cords supported, and strengthen your vocal dynamism.
You don’t need to use your diaphragm for singing, but you’ll find it is less stressful on your vocal cords if you do. When you sing from your throat alone, the larynx becomes artificially constricted.
It might seem like it is easier to reach high notes without the diaphragm, but you could be risking the health of your vocal cords by using that technique.
Steps to Follow for Singing From Your Diaphragm
When you take a deep breath, are you using your lungs only to support your singing? The diaphragm muscle can push your vocals to new levels because it helps you control each note's quality, tone, and consistency.
If you can strengthen this muscle, you can sing melodies that you once thought were impossible! Scream singing, opera, and more are almost impossible to do without diaphragm support.
These steps can help you to know how to sing from your diaphragm with confidence.
1. Locate where your diaphragm supports your voice.
It takes a little practice to find your diaphragm. You’ll locate the dome-shaped muscle near the base of your lungs. Even though it gets used for every breath you take, the activities it offers go mostly unnoticed.
As the air leaves your lungs, your diaphragm relaxes the intercostal muscles. This motion allows air to escape while stabilizing your core to create the singing sounds you want to hear.
If you force the air out faster through more abdominal pressure, your voice’s sound quality improves.
Most adults do the opposite. They tend to draw the stomach into their body instead of activating the diaphragm. This process creates a slimmer body profile, but it also forms a weaker core.
You cannot expand the lungs as much by drawing in your stomach. If you’ve learned this habit, you’ll need to unlearn it to sing from your diaphragm.
2. Start breathing into your diaphragm.
The easiest way to start singing with your diaphragm is to become familiar with how your body processes air movement.
If you learn the diaphragmatic breathing technique, you'll come away with four crucial benefits that help your singing voice.
· You will strengthen the diaphragm muscle.
· It will decrease the work it takes to breathe, slowing your overall rate.
· You’ll notice a decrease in oxygen demands from your body.
· It becomes easier to breathe, and you’ll receive more energy with each breath.
You can perform diaphragmatic breathing exercises while sitting in a chair or lying on the ground. Please choose whichever method supports your body the best.
You’ll want to start by sitting or lying on the floor comfortably. Your neck, head, and shoulders should feel relaxed while keeping your knees bent.
It helps to keep the shoulders back so that your spine can stay aligned in its natural shape.
Place one hand on your upper chest while having the other just underneath your rib cage. You’ve got the correct placement when you can feel the diaphragm moving when you breathe.
Start the exercise by breathing slowly through your nose. You should feel your stomach moving out against your hand.
Complete the exercise by tightening your stomach muscles quickly, allowing them to fall inward as you exhale through pressed lips. You want the hand placed on your upper chest to remain still during this entire process.
It is not unusual for this step to make you feel exhausted at first. After a couple of weeks with consistent practicing, you’ll notice that diaphragmatic breathing becomes an automatic technique.
Try to practice for at least five minutes each session, up to four times daily, to get the fastest results.
3. Begin to expand your lung capacity.
How long could you hold your breath right now? The average person can do it for 30-60 seconds without much difficulty.
Can you hold your breath for two minutes? Have you reached the three-minute threshold yet?
The human body is an incredible tool that can help with your vocal training. The world record for holding one’s breath is currently over 24 minutes.
Even if you don’t get an oxygen-aided chance to bring air into your lungs, it is possible to hold a standard breath for over 11 minutes.
The same exercises that freedivers use to hold their breath for a long time underwater can help you with your singing lessons.
If you can hold your breath for up to 60 seconds now, you can get up to three minutes in 30 days when you exercise your lung capacity. If you’re already at 120 seconds, you can reach five minutes with ongoing practice.
These steps will help you achieve the results you want to see with your singing.
· Prepare your body for breathing exercises. When teaching your lungs to expand their capacity, it helps to relax your mind, muscles, and breath. If you get tense, your body diverts oxygen to those areas. Anything that feels calming will help you build a foundation for success.
· Take three breaths. Use the first breath to inhale about three-quarters of your full capacity. On the second one, exhale everything. When you reach the third, take in as much air as possible to hold it.
· Stop the air from escaping. Most air escapes through the back of the throat instead of the lips. Every time you exhale, you lose oxygen. That’s why you need diaphragm and core strength to prevent its loss. When you give these muscles a workout, you’ll notice improvements in your vocal training almost immediately.
· Reduce the urge to breathe. This step is different for everyone. Try to take your mind off of the fact that you’re holding your breath. You could think about your family, the dreams you have of becoming a singer, or a favorite trip you took as a child. The goal is to stay in this mindset for as long as possible to stop oxygen from escaping. Once you reach your limit, release and breathe normally until you feel recovered.
· Incorporate aerobic and anaerobic training. When you push your body to the point where you can’t suck in enough air, your body burns glycogen and phosphates. Anything that delivers short, intensive bursts will give your diaphragm the extra strength you need to become a better singer.
· Eat healthy foods. When you want to support your singing health, you’ll want to avoid caffeine, alcohol, and any artificial stimulants. Try to eat a healthy, well-rounded diet that includes plenty of water.
4. Incorporate lip trills with your breathing exercises.
If you want to become a better singer, one of the best exercises you can incorporate into your daily routine is the lip trill.
The best way to describe this physical movement is to replicate the sound of a car while only letting your lips buzz.
As you release air, you’ll feel vibrations move your lips rapidly. It helps to keep your tongue down around your bottom teeth if it tries to move up during this exercise.
If you have trouble generating lip trills, it helps to tighten your cheeks and embouchure to reduce the places where air can hide.
Although it might feel a little silly to incorporate this activity into your vocal practice, it teaches your body how to breathe more efficiently. The movement places pressure along the vocal folds so that you can extend your range.
It's also nearly impossible to hurt yourself when using this technique, making it a safe way to work on singing from your diaphragm.
5. Complete a full warmup.
Before starting any vocal lessons, you'll want to complete an entire warmup to ensure that your vocal cords are ready to sing. This process allows your diaphragm to get prepared for the exercises you're about to do while hitting those notes.
Some singers like to use breathing exercises as their warmup while slowly singing the notes within their middle range. Take your time as you go through the lowest notes to the highest ones to avoid straining.
If the environment is a little cold, it sometimes helps to drink some warm water to loosen everything. You’ll want to avoid a large meal before singing since your body will divert more oxygen to the digestive processes instead of your singing voice.
Here are some of the best vocal warmups to consider adding to your routine.
Benefits You’ll Receive When Using This Technique
This warmup places minimal strain on your vocal cords. If you place your tongue’s tip behind your bottom teeth while moving up and down the major scales, you’ll feel everything start loosening in a couple of minutes. Use “h” sounds to maximize the benefits of this process.
Instead of humming through your lips, you’ll use a straw to complete your warmup. Begin this technique at the lowest end of your range while progressing upward slowly and methodically. For a more robust result, try humming into a glass filled with water.
For this warmup exercise, you’ll yawn while keeping your mouth closed for as long as possible. Once your air is in, exhale it through the nose like a sigh to relax your vocal cords and open your throat.