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Is the Breath THAT Important for Singers?

Hey everyone, long time no write. One of the things I get constant questions about is breathing. It’s kind of funny to me… everyone that knows anything about singing knows that you have to breathe properly. But in this article, I want to explore just how true that is.

Is the breath really that important?

Well, here’s how I like to think of it…
is gas important to a car. Absolutely! You have to have gas to drive your car. But then again, you also have to have a steering wheel, an engine, tires, and a seat to sit in.

I say all of this to point out that while yes, the breath is an important part of singing, it’s also just a part of it. Many things are going on at one time, and while breathing from your diaphragm and expelling a consistent flow of air is important (you can click the link to learn more about how to breathe properly), it’s only a small part of the process, and will not fix all or even half of the issues one will likely experience as a singer.

Honestly, I rarely spend more than a minute or so on teaching breathing specifically, because I can usually tie it into some other exercise I use. Truth is, you’ve been breathing your whole life. If you hadn’t been, you’d be dead. So why focus so much on something that’s natural.

The biggest thing to note about the breath and singing is that we want to sing on a steady, and consistent flow of air, and in order to create that, you shoulders can’t rise when you breathe in (proper breathing isn’t that unlike the type of breath you’d take while going to the bathroom… not #1).

Beyond that, it’s also important to learn more about the valve that controls how fast or slow the breath leaves the body, otherwise known as the vocal cords. The cords, if functioning properly, will come together and let only a small amount of air out at a time (the diaphragm can also assist with this gradual expulsion of air). However, if the cords are not together, you’ll produce a breathy sound, and you won’t be able to sing for very long at all. So, in a way, if your cords aren’t creating the proper coordination, it doesn’t matter how you’re breathing.

There are a lot of other aspects of the voice that can be tweaked and adjusted to help a singer accomplish vocal freedom, strength, stamina, and extreme range, but hopefully this much has made sense so far.

Feel free to share this article with your friends and comment below with questions, thoughts, or even screams of outrage (I tend to get those when I downplay the importance of the breath in singing :p).

Thanks for reading!

~ Ken