Breathing for Singing: Releasing the Abdominals

Many singing teachers feel strongly about the movement of the abdominal muscles (abs) and singing. You may have been told to control your abdominals to control your exhalation. That idea is a good one, but you also want to control the other muscles in your torso, because the abdominals aren’t the only muscles that control exhalation.

To feel the release of the abs with inhalation, get down on your hands and knees. You can get something soft to put under your knees if this isn’t the most comfortable position for you. Exhale and notice the movement of your abs. You probably feel them moving in, and that’s great.

Notice how they move when you inhale. If you feel them dropping down with gravity, you’re on the right track. If you don’t feel them drop, you may be trying too hard to move your chest to breathe. Allow your chest to remain steady and try again.

Taking in too much air is called overbreathing, which can cause adverse tension in the body. When you get used to breathing for singing, you can judge how much air you need to take in for each phrase.

The following exercise enables you the opportunity to let breath fall into your body, releasing the abs.

  1. Exhale.

    As you exhale, your abs move in.

  2. Hold your breath and silently count to ten.

    Don’t inhale while you’re counting to ten.

  3. After counting to ten, inhale.

    Most likely, you need the breath so badly that it just falls right into your body, and your abs release and drop.

  4. Notice the movement of your body as the air comes rushing in.

    Your throat opens and your abs release so the air can drop in.

After expelling all your air on a long musical phrase, let that air that you need just drop into your lungs by opening your body.

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