Secrets of Support

The Right Kind of Push

A big problem most people have when it comes to singing is to actually get that feeling of support down. Some people use way too much, while others barely support at all. In my article on Breathing and Support, I gave some detail as to what support is and some ideas of the sensations you’ll feel if you're doing it correctly, but I still get asked ‘How do I know if I'm supporting the right way for sure’ all the time.

To get used to the feeling of support, there are many different things you can do & imagine. Some of them may be a little disgusting to some people, but as long as its effective, who gives a shit? :)

First off, push your stomach out so it looks like you’re pregnant/just finished up your Chipotle. Put your hands on your sides at your rib cage while you do this. Notice that the lower ribs, called the intercostals or floating ribs, push outward. This is something you want to have happen every single time you inhale to sing. Also notice that your lower areas from the stomach down seem to push down and out. This is the correct thing to feel when supporting.

You’ll get this same feeling when you sneeze, when you’re using the restroom, and even when you cough (although you don’t want to imitate the tension and push you feel in your throat when you cough). The whole point is that you need to be putting the pressure downwards while singing. If you keep the pressure downwards, you will keep the strain from your throat. This is because you will be holding back some air and only delivering what is absolutely essential for your cords to vibrate.

If you push up too much air while singing, the first thing that happens is you will overload your vocal cords. The actual purpose of the larynx is to control what goes where in the throat, so it acts as a resistance to the air pressure coming up. If you can maintain an even balance (the right amount of breath flow), your vocal cords will act as they are intended to, and you wont have any issues. If you push up too much air though, it will actually start to push the cords open and dry them out since they wont be properly sealed. The excess drying is how you start to lose range and tonal clarity, due to the edema (swelling) of the cords that comes along with the dryness.

By maintaining a control of the air pressure through support, you will never send up too much air and run into these problems. So, it will really pay off to make sure you get the right sensations down from the beginning and to start using them while singing as a guide to make sure you're doing things correctly.