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Help! I Can’t Breathe!

Help! I Can’t Breathe!

Exploring the “Art of Breathing” and its implications for healthy vocal production

 

Boy blowing up a balloon

There is no skill more critical to healthy vocal use than that of proper breathing.

 

          When a student walks into my studio for the first time, whether they are a beginner or advanced singer, the first area I always explore is their understanding of their own breathing apparatus. So it should come as no surprise then that I think the best way to start talking about anatomy of vocal production is to explore this concept of a breathing apparatus in proper vocal use.

          Before we delve into the “Art of Breathing” as I like to refer to it, let me start by saying that proper breathing is just that: an art. The coordination and awareness of one’s own body that breathing requires, often surprises most people. Now you say, “Jordan, come on, I’ve been breathing just fine up to now. I’m alive aren’t I?”

          “Barely.” I respond.

          With proper use of your breathing apparatus comes an amazing ability to control your breathing, and has implications in not only singing but exercise, athletics, regulating emotions, speaking, sleep, relaxation… the list goes on. Most people only ever use a fraction of their body’s capacity to breathe, and considering the physiological implications of oxygen on our survival, this should come as somewhat of a shock.
 

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          When I use the term breathing apparatus, I am talking about the coordinated function of important anatomical structures we use for healthy vocal production. These include the lungs, the diaphragm, the abdomen, and a few other smaller muscle groups that have important roles to play.

          Over the course of this week I want to visit these structures with you so that you are able to better understand how they can work together to maximize the use of each breath you take. Paired with some fun exercises, this knowledge will hopefully empower you to be more aware of your breathing and proper breathing will eventually become habitual for you over time. For those of you who already have a good understanding of your breathing apparatus, perhaps you will still learn things you didn’t know or be challenged to think of your breathing in a different light.
 
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