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Phrases Used during Singing Lessons

If you’ve had some singing lessons, you may be confused by all the phrases and terms singers use to describe breathing. Your voice teacher or choir director may have said, “Support that note” or “Sing on breath!” If those commands make sense to you, congratulations! But many people think they are confusing, because the word support can mean so many things.

  • Support probably became a popular term for breathing for singing because of the Italian word appoggio, which means “to support” or “to lean your body into the breath.” Support means using your body to control the breath and sound so your throat stays free and open.

  • Appoggio also implies that singers flex their body or ribs open as they sing and leave the body open during exhalation. This may sound confusing, but it will make more sense as your understanding of your own breathing habits improves with practice.

  • Singing on breath is what you’re supposed to do all the time. If someone says, “Sing on the breath,” he’s probably telling you to connect the breath to the tone or start the sound by connecting air.

    You can grunt and make a sound, but that’s not applying air or singing on the breath. You can also blow too much air and make a breathy sound, which isn’t what it means to sing on the breath. The process in between those two is what you’re looking for.

In the future, ask the person to be more specific if you’re confused by the phrase he uses. But it’s okay if you don’t know every singing cliché. How can you know them all yet? The singing world uses just too many.

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