How to Develop Breath Control with the Help of a Familiar Song - dummies

How to Develop Breath Control with the Help of a Familiar Song

By Pamelia S. Phillips

Part of Singing Exercises For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Singers work on breath control — controlling the flow of air as they sing — so they can manage singing short and long phrases in songs. Practice controlling your breathing by first singing shorter phrases and then gradually working your way up to longer phrases.

An easy way to work on breath control is to sing through a familiar song, such as “Amazing Grace,” while focusing on controlling your breath. Use the following figure to remind yourself of the melody and the lyrics of “Amazing Grace” and then follow the steps to work on breath control.


  1. Sing through the two lines in the figure, paying attention to where you take a breath.

    Most likely, you sing the words “Amazing grace” and then take a breath before singing the words “how sweet the sound.”

  2. Sing the two lines again and pay attention to how you move your body when you inhale before and after the phrase “Amazing grace.”

    When you inhale, you want your ribs, sides, abdominal muscles, and back to expand. As you sing, you want those same muscles that just expanded on the inhalation to gradually move back to their normal resting position. Allowing the muscles to collapse too quickly moves the air out too quickly and doesn’t leave you with enough breath to sing the whole phrase.

  3. Sing “Amazing grace! How sweet the sound” before you take a breath.

    You may need several tries before you can comfortably make it through all these words on one breath, and you may need to practice for several days before you can sing the first two lines in one breath. Remember: You don’t want your body to be tight or to push to continue singing. If you feel your body tighten as you try a longer phrase, take a breath and try the phrase again.