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Breath Control in Singing: How and When to Breathe

You probably already figured out that you have to pay attention to your breathing when you sing. In fact, proper breath control can make the difference between singing successfully and failing.

Knowing how to breathe when you sing is a great skill. Taking your breathing to the next level in a song means breathing with the intent to say something when you sing. For each phrase that you sing, you need to plan the amount of breath that you need to complete that phrase or thought.

That concept sounds like a big one, but it’s what you do every day in your conversations. As you’re deciding what to say next in a conversation, you take in air and then express those thoughts.

Try taking a breath and saying, “I have some bad news.” Your breath was probably slow and deliberate because you knew something unpleasant was about to follow. Take a breath and say, “I won the entire jackpot in the lottery.”

Wow! That breath is certainly different than your bad-news rendition. When you sing songs, you want to know clearly what you’re trying to say so that you take the appropriate breath for each line and express a specific thought.

Knowing where to breathe is also helpful. In a song, you can breathe in the following locations:

  • Anytime you see a rest in the music

  • Anywhere you see punctuation, such as a comma or period

  • Anywhere that makes sense with the musical phrase and the lyrics

Marking the places where you intend to breathe gives you an opportunity to try that breath and see whether it works for you. The place to breathe may seem logical, but then when you try the breath, you may not feel confident. Just choose another place and try again. The more you practice singing through songs and plotting out the breaths, the better you get at figuring it out.

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