Many people still don’t know that they can produce sounds in different ways—in fact, various body parts. When it comes to singing, one of the most common styles is doing it from the diaphragm.
Singing from the diaphragm is a technique in which a singer produces a sound that seems to come not from their throat but rather from deep inside themselves, usually from around the area of the stomach. It is often regarded as the healthiest way of singing.
You might also hear this technique called “breathing from the diaphragm” or using your diaphragm. It is sometimes called ‘belting’ because it can allow you to produce high notes that sound powerful, like an opera singer.
The diaphragm can be described as a dome-shaped muscle that separates the lungs from the stomach area. It is located just below the lungs and ribs at about the mid-torso or body level, though not exactly at either of these locations.
When you inhale, you use your diaphragm to push downward, causing your lungs to expand outward, taking in air through the nose or mouth into the lungs.
Thanks to this action, fresh oxygen enters our bodies and feeds our blood with necessary nutrients so that we can live. As one exhales, the diaphragm contracts again, moving upward against its very strong elastic recoil, forcing the remaining air out of the lungs.
Singing beyond the Diaphragm
Having stated this, all singing does not come purely from the diaphragm. The chest voice also uses the diaphragm but with a different function than in respiration. It functions as an anchor to keep the ribs open and relaxed, allowing for optimal movement of the vocal folds (the true sound generators).
On inhalation, the chest voice begins the production of tone using primarily or almost exclusively on inhalations (in some cases) by pushing air out of the lungs against strong resistance provided by contracting muscular walls surrounding them.
As one exhales, these same muscles open up, allowing air to escape without much effort at all. Hence, little or no control over volume or tone is possible here, like a balloon that pops once it’s released.
On the other hand, the head voice uses the laryngeal muscles primarily to create resistance and control the air passing through them by causing vibration. This requires less energy since there is no pushing or pulling of air against strong resistance like in chest voice production.
The Importance of Breath Support
All singers need breath support because it allows them to sustain tone and develop dynamic levels (loudness/softness), which are essential for free vocal expression. The ‘breath’ part of singing is easy. However, the ‘support’ part is where most people struggle, whether they know it or not!
Support usually involves controlling how you breathe, coordinating your breath flow with your phonation (vocal cord vibrations), and learning to use your diaphragm correctly. The problem occurs when someone teaches breath support before they’ve taught their students correct breathing techniques, which is not that easy.
When a singer uses too much of their throat muscles, problems might occur. The vocal sound becomes pinched off at a certain point. This phenomenon happens because not enough breath can escape through the small opening formed by tensed muscles around the glottis.
The strain on the voice is inevitable and improper intonation or pitching issues since excess muscle tension slows down, vibrating speed of vocal cords resulting in inaccuracies. To avoid these problems, you must teach your singers how to breathe correctly even before beginning voice lessons though the process seems complicated at first.
Remember this: if someone can’t breathe properly, they can’t sing well!
With voice lessons, you should always use “exhale” as opposed to “inhale” because it’s much easier for everyone to understand what is expected of them. Also, an exhaled tone sounds louder and more powerful than inhaled one.
The ideal way of expelling air out of the lungs requires just enough pressure so that air exits smoothly without any noise or whooping sound – something many people have trouble achieving. Teachers often advise their students to open their mouths widely while practicing breathing exercises, but some disagree.
As a matter of fact, opening the mouth widely while practicing breathing exercises can cause problems, making it more difficult to develop gentle breath support because too much air might get pushed through the vocal cords. This causes them to flap together, resulting in unsteady tone and vocal fatigue very quickly.
In the end, often, coaches or teachers will help you develop various methods that will let you sing more properly and beautifully. These techniques, though, are grounded on basics like diaphragm control and breath support.