Breathing and support; these two things are perhaps the most crucial elements of vocal technique. If you're not breathing correctly and not supporting properly, you will never, among other things, unlock your full range potential. More importantly, you will not be singing safely. Singing improperly can cause many problems such as nodes, polyps, and vocal cord rupturing. However, you can avoid this by getting your breathing and support under control now.
When breathing for singing, just remember the following things:
When you breathe in, your stomach should push outward naturally.
Your lower ribs (called the intercostals or floating ribs) should come out. To feel this, put your hands around the lower ribs and inhale. Your hands should move outward along with your ribs.
These 2 expansions need to happen simultaneously.
When inhaling, theres no need for a huge, slow breath. Instead, take a quick and short breath, like you take when something surprises you. I call this “taking a one″, because it should take just one short second to make this inhale. When taking a one, make sure that you still have stomach and rib expansion. Your shoulders should never rise when inhaling to sing.
Now for support. There is just one method of support that I teach with varying degrees of pressure. This is no new technique however. Its been taught for centuries in classical bel canto technique, and has been revitalized in the past few years by coaches like Melissa Cross, Jaime Vendera, and myself who have made it a very major part of our technique.
To support, all you have to do is push down. This helps to manage and regulate your breath pressure which keeps you from pushing up too much air and straining. The feeling of pushing down is the same feeling you get while using the restroom, coughing, or for women, giving birth. Remember, you're pushing down. You're not pushing the stomach outwards or pushing more air up into your throat.
Depending on the volume and pitch of the note, you’re going to use varying degrees of push. For a loud note, you’ll push more than for a soft breathy tone. For a loud note in full voice, you’ll push down more than you would for a loud note in falsetto. For a loud scream, you’ll push more than you would for a loud clean note. It’s all about adjustments, and you’ll have to figure out how to dial in the right pressure for each note and vocal inflection yourself by trial and error.
No matter what you're singing, follow these steps to make sure your voice is being produced on a safe and solid foundation:
*Take a one. Make sure you have stomach and rib expansion
*At the same time as you take a one, push down. The amount of pushing depends on the note.