MyVo Stories
Simple Breathing Exercises for Singing
To Improve Your Technique
If you’re learning to sing, you may have already heard terms like “diaphragm singing” and are maybe wondering about the importance of practicing proper breathing for singing. After all, our bodies already know how to breathe – we do it 24 hours a day!

Of course, breathing while singing is not the same as breathing for sustaining life or having a conversation. When we sing, we are the same as any other musician: we are using an instrument to produce sound. In this case, the tool is our own body. Correct breathing techniques while singing will allow you to control your volume, tackle challenging vocal riffs, and produce a better sound. More importantly, they will also ensure you can sing for more extended periods without straining your vocal cords.

In this post, we’ll talk about why and how to sing from the diaphragm and include some simple breathing exercises for singing that you can do anywhere to improve your technique. It will take you around 10 minutes to do all the exercises listed in the article. These breathing exercises (and many more) from the MyVo app, will help you learn singing in a fun way. You can find out more about the app at the bottom of this post.

Circular breathing singing

Exercise #1 – Circular breathing

This exercise will help you concentrate your awareness on the “hidden” parts of the breathing process we usually don’t notice while breathing for life. By exaggerating the length of each section, you’ll learn to recognize the sensation each one produces.
Take a breath in to the count of four, pause and count to four before exhaling, exhale to the count of four, pause for a count of four before inhaling. Repeat several times.

Diaphragmatic breathing singing

Unless they have another reason to become aware of what happens in the body while breathing, most people inhale into the upper part of the lungs. They pay no attention to the diaphragm muscle and its role in the respiration process. Singers, however, need to become familiar with diaphragmatic breathing.

What is the diaphragm, btw?

The diaphragm is a large, powerful muscle whose purpose is to drive the respiration process. It sits right below the lungs. Learning to control your breathing by consciously using the diaphragm will not only give you a more powerful singing voice and teach you how to increase lung capacity for singing. Still, it will also improve your posture and prevent unnecessary tension while singing.

How does singing from the diaphragm instead of throat improve your singing?

As a singer, having the air in the upper lungs alone will not provide you with the level of control you need. It also means you’d be using your jaw, mouth, and throat muscles to control your sound. This may work if you want to produce a higher, louder sound, but will not be enough for more challenging vocal work. These muscles also strain easily, which can create long term vocal problems.

How to control breathing while singing: using your diaphragm

To isolate the sensation of diaphragmatic breathing, it also helps to learn what not to do. The following exercise lets you practice different types of inhalations so you can become aware of the difference between them.

Exercise #2 – Abdominal, chest and diaphragmic inhalation

1. Diaphragmic inhalation – this is the one we want!
When we inhale with our diaphragm, it expands all the way round, pushing the lower ribs outwards.
To find the sensation of diaphragmatic inhalation, place your hands on your sides, and see your lower ribs. Take a breath in and try to expand your sides while inhaling. Hold your breath and note the sensation of diaphragmatic inhalation.
2. Chest inhalation
This type of inhalation means that the upper part of your chest rises during inhalation, and the air fills the upper part of the lungs. This type of breath is unpleasant for most people, as it produces a tightness in the chest. It’s the way you breathe when you are nervous or scared – not what you want when singing!

Exercise #3 – Exhalation

Take a breath with your diaphragm and then place a hand in front of your mouth. Exhale in the usual way and then make a sound. Notice how much air you’re expelling. If you want, you can repeat this exercise with the other inhalation types discussed above and compare the results.
Now take another diaphragmic breath and try to sing more powerfully. If you’re breathing correctly, you will notice you’re expelling even less air than before.

Exercise #4 – Support

In singing, “support” means prolonging the natural exhalation through resisting the release of air. We do this by using the abdominal muscles. It’s the sensation you feel when you laugh so hard your abs contract.
To feel it, try to cough and notice what your abs are doing. Have they engaged? Now try it while producing a sound. You can pretend you’re shouting at someone in another room. If you feel your abs have contracted, you’re doing it right.
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