how to sing from your diaphragm

How To Sing From Your Diaphragm The RIGHT Way: 5 Easy Tips

Do you often feel like your singing is forced?

Maybe you feel strain when singing – you’re barely able to breathe, and your throat is constricted.

This could be because you’re not singing the right way – but don’t worry, we’ll get to the solution soon.

In this post, we will discuss everything you need to know about how to sing from your diaphragm, including the proper techniques, correct posture, and common mistakes that people make.

If you’re ready, keep on reading!

Understanding Your Diaphragm: How It Works

How to sing from your diaphragm

The diaphragm is a crucial muscle involved in breathing and singing. Contrary to popular belief, it is not located in the throat but rather beneath the lungs, separating the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity.

To master how to sing from your diaphragm effectively, it’s important to understand its role in supporting breath control and vocal power.

When we inhale, the diaphragm contracts and flattens out. This movement creates a vacuum in the lungs, allowing them to fill up with air.

On the other hand, when we exhale, the diaphragm relaxes and rises back up in the chest cavity, pushing the air out of the lungs.

How Diaphragmatic Singing Works

To apply this when you sing, this is what happens when you sing from your diaphragm:

When you inhale, your lungs take in some air and expand. When this happens, the lungs could go in two different directions.

The first is upward and forward, resulting in a push of the clavicle or collarbone. The second direction is downwards towards the rib cage. The direction in which the lungs go is determined by which option has lower resistance.

The clavicle has an uncontrollable and fixed amount of resistance, but on the other hand, we can control how much resistance the abdominal muscles provide as we can either stiffen or release those muscles.

When we inhale, if the abdominal muscles are tense, this results in a clavicular breath which is often not what you want when you are singing. On the other hand, if the abdominal muscles are relaxed when you’re singing, this will end up producing a diaphragmatic breath which is great for singing as it is more controlled and relaxed.

Why Is It Important to Learn How To Sing From Your Diaphragm?

One of the biggest reasons you should know how to sing from your diaphragm is because it helps you sing a selected phrase without running out of breath.

Bear in mind that it is important to draw air from your diaphragm or chest rather than from your throat, as that is the distinguishing factor for singing from your diaphragm.

When you sing, you want to get used to drawing as much as possible into your chest -Full chest -To get a good amount of air in order to sing your next song phrase.

While I don’t want to stress this too much, it’s important to understand this technique in order to sing correctly from your diaphragm.

Locating the Diaphragm

It is important to know where your diaphragm or chest muscles are located in order to properly engage them.

To find your diaphragm – do this while standing up straight to get the best results:

Place your hands on either lower side of your ribcage and feel for a slight pressure when you inhale. Your diaphragm is located below your ribcage and wraps around your torso.

If you still can’t feel your diaphragm, try this:

  • Lie on the floor and place a slight weight on your stomach area – such as a book or something of similar weight.
  • Push the book upwards by exhaling, using the stomach muscles
  • Next, inhale and the book should fall towards your stomach.

When you exhale, try to feel your abdominal muscles contracting and expanding. This is the diaphragm muscle that you want to engage when singing, as it will provide a natural support for your breath control and vocal power.

How To Make Your Diaphragm Stronger – Exercises You Should Try

1. Locate the right muscles:

The first step is to understand where your diaphragm is located and how to engage it properly.

You can do this by using the exercises mentioned above.

Your pelvic floor muscles are also important for diaphragmatic singing, these muscles work as a function for the uterus and the bladder, but they can also be engaged when singing.

To easily locate these muscles, think of stopping the flow of urine when you go to the bathroom – the muscles responsible for this are your pelvic floor muscles.

2. Take deep breaths into your diaphragm:

To properly sing from your diaphragm, make sure to take a full breath, filling up your lungs completely. This will ensure that you have enough air to support your singing without having to strain or take shallow breaths.

As I mentioned earlier, when you inhale while singing, the abdominal muscles should be relaxed in order for the diaphragm to do its job.

This means that if you feel any tension in your abdominal muscles, make sure to take a few deep breaths, relax your body and focus on sending the air all the way to your chest.

It is a good idea to lie down on a fairly hard surface and practice this exercise until it becomes natural. Lie on your back and place one hand on your belly and another hand on your chest. Slowly inhale and focus on the movement of your belly, as you should feel it expanding while you breathe.

Take a breath in through your nose for 5 seconds, hold it for about 5 seconds, and then exhale slowly and evenly for 5 seconds.

3. Diaphragm Strengthening Exercises:

You can also do some diaphragm strengthening exercises to make sure your diaphragm is correctly used when singing. Here are a few you can try:

Straw singing or straw phonation:

This is a great exercise to practice as it helps you get used to using your diaphragm correctly. The idea behind this exercise is to inhale through the straw before singing a phrase. This forces you to sing with your mouth slightly open.

When using a straw, it will help you use only as much air as you need and not more. This technique helps control your breathing and will result in a more relaxed singing technique.

For a simpler exercise, you can try inhaling deeply and then exhaling into a straw,

Lip trills or lip rolls:

Lip trills are also great for strengthening the diaphragm. This involves vibrating your mouth, such as by making a “brrr” sound on a certain pitch.

Staccato singing:

This involves singing in short syllables, with an emphasis on the attack or beginning of each note. It is important to keep a good amount of air when singing staccato, as it helps to keep a constant flow of air and prevents you from running out of breath.

Bathroom push:

This exercise is great for strengthening the diaphragm, and it involves letting out a hard breath as if you’re in the toilet. This practice can help you to use your diaphragm correctly and efficiently when singing.

Correct Posture for Diaphragmatic Singing

Having a great posture is essential for diaphragmatic singing. Make sure to stand up straight, with your core muscles engaged and aligned – this will help you to use your diaphragm efficiently.

It is also important to make sure your shoulders are relaxed, as this can help you to have better breath control when singing.

Lastly, make sure that your chin is not tucked in and your jaw is relaxed.

How To Sing From Your Diaphragm The Right Way

Now that you understand what the diaphragm does and why it is important, let’s discuss how to sing from your diaphragm.

Before going into this I want to point out that the diaphragm in itself is not responsible for producing sound when you sing however, it is an important body part for powering the breath that results in the sound which is created.

So, in a nutshell, it is a myth that you can sing directly from your diaphragm but it does make sense to say that you use your diaphragm to sing rather than singing from it.

For the purpose of this blog post, you can interpret “singing from your diaphragm” as “singing from your chest”, and they will essentially mean the same thing. With that said, here is how you can sing from your diaphragm effectively:

1) Stand up straight and align your core:

Make sure that you stand up straight with your shoulders back and your chest open.

2) Take a full breath:

Take a deep breath before you start to sing, first exhaling, then filling your lungs completely. This will ensure that you have enough air to support your singing without having to strain or take shallow breaths.

3) Open up your throat:

Make sure that your throat is open when singing, and don’t let it constrict or close up, as this will restrict the airflow.

4) Sing with consonants:

When singing, focus on articulating your consonants. Doing this will help you to be more efficient in using your breath and also give your voice a better projection.

5) Work on high and low notes:

Make sure to practice singing high (head voice) and low notes (chest voice), as this will help you to understand your range better and give you more control of your vocal power.

Proper Breathing Techniques

Breathing correctly is essential for singing, as it helps you to control your breath and support the notes. Here is a summary of some breathing techniques you can use:

  1. Diaphragmatic Breathing: Also known as belly breathing, this technique involves engaging the diaphragm to maximize breath support. Place your hand on your abdomen, inhale deeply, and feel your belly expand as you fill your lungs with air. This technique allows for a greater air capacity and controls over breath release.
  2. Rib Expansion: Focus on expanding your ribcage while inhaling. Imagine your ribcage expanding outwards like an accordion. This technique increases lung capacity and allows for fuller breath.
  3. Slow Inhalation: Take slow, controlled breaths instead of quick, shallow ones. Inhale gently through your nose, allowing the air to fill your lungs gradually. This technique helps maintain control and prevents excessive tension.
  4. Proper Exhalation: A controlled and steady exhalation is crucial for vocal stability. Release the air slowly and evenly, using the support of your diaphragm and abdominal muscles. Avoid forcefully pushing the air out, as it can strain your vocal cords.
  5. Sustained Exhalation: Practice prolonging your exhalation to improve breath control. Count while exhaling, aiming for longer durations over time. This technique enhances your ability to sustain notes and deliver phrases smoothly.
  6. Inhalation Timing: Coordinate your inhalation with the musical phrasing. Take a quick, silent breath at appropriate moments in the music, ensuring it doesn’t interrupt the flow. This technique allows you to maintain a consistent sound and avoid audible inhalation.
  7. Posture Awareness: Maintain proper posture to facilitate optimal breathing. Stand or sit tall with relaxed shoulders and an elongated spine. Good posture allows for better lung expansion and unrestricted airflow.
  8. Relaxation and Tension Release: Tension in the neck, throat, and shoulders can restrict breathing and affect vocal production. Practice relaxation techniques like gentle stretches, shoulder rolls, and massages to release tension and create a more open vocal space.
  9. Breath Support Exercises: Engage in specific exercises designed to strengthen your breath support muscles. These exercises can include sustained humming, lip trills, or singing long phrases while maintaining steady breath flow. They help build endurance and control over your breath.

Common Mistakes When Singing From The Diaphragm

Here are some common mistakes to avoid when singing from the diaphragm:

1. Taking deep breaths too often: Although it is important to take a full breath before you start singing, taking too many deep breaths will tire out your diaphragm and cause you to lose control over your breath.

2. Not breathing from the stomach: Make sure to engage your diaphragm when breathing and focus on expanding your abdomen rather than your chest. This will help you to use the air more efficiently.

3. Overusing the chest voice: Don’t let your chest voice take over when singing from your diaphragm, and make sure to work on developing your head voice as well. This will give you more control and range over your vocal power.

4. Holding in breath too long: When singing phrases or notes, try not to hold your breath for too long, as this will cause tension and reduce your breath capacity.

5. Excessive tension: Avoid excessive tension in the neck, throat, and shoulders when singing from your diaphragm. Make sure to relax these areas to promote proper airflow and create a more open vocal space.

Putting It All Together

Singing from the diaphragm is a skill that requires practice and dedication. Remember to use proper breathing techniques, engage your core muscles, and use your head voice in addition to your chest voice for the best results.

Also, avoid taking too many deep breaths and holding in the breath for too long. With consistent practice and technique refinement, you will soon be able to sing from your diaphragm with confidence and ease.

Frequently Asked Questions

How would I know if I’m singing from my diaphragm and not my throat?

When singing from the diaphragm, you should feel your stomach and lower rib cage expand as you inhale. You will also notice a fuller sound in your voice as well as an increase in vocal sustain.

Is it hard to sing from your diaphragm?

When done correctly, singing from the diaphragm should sound relaxed and effortless. You can also feel your abdomen expand when you take a deep breath and exhale slowly.

How do you know if you are singing from your throat?

When singing from your throat, you will most likely feel tension in the neck and jaw area. Your voice will also sound more strained and tight, rather than relaxed and effortless. To help alleviate this tension, practice breathing exercises and vocal warm-ups to make sure your body is relaxed and ready for singing. This will also improve the sound quality of your voice by making sure that you are using the correct muscles during singing.

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