What does it mean to sing from your Diaphragm?
Do you want to know how to sing from your diaphragm? I'm going to teach you how to be a better singer and performer. I'm going to teach you a breathing exercises on how to sing with your diaphragm. Now I can't go into all the details here and it's a bit more complicated. I'm going to show a quick peek into how to use the diaphragm and what the diaphragm is. The diaphragm is a muscle that's inside the ribcage. Here's one side of your rib if I had another hand it would be over here right diaphragm is inside that ribcage. Your vocal range will benefit once you use the diaphragm properly.
The diaphragm doesn't have any nerve endings so we can't feel it. So it causes a lot of confusion for singers or want to be singers when we start talking about singing with your diaphragm, because it's not a muscle we can feel. We can however control its movement by the surrounding muscles. So when the ribs open the diaphragm has room to go down when the ribs are too tight and locked. So it has a lot to do with your diaphragm breathing, of course, when the ribs are too tight and locked that diaphragm isn't going to go down.
Enjoy the videos below from the voice coaches from across the world. Be sure to practice breathing, memorizing lyrics and you will be able to sing much better.
Diaphragm breathing and learning how to open up the middle of the body not breathe up into the chest. Rather breathe down into this area right here and it really is 360 degrees around the body that you want to move when you breathe. This is how you start to control that diaphragm movement and get it and move down.
When the diaphragm moves down it pulls air into the lungs. That's why so many people when they take a deep breath they do this and they breathe into the upper chest. Singers have to keep the chest lifted elevated slightly more than normal and then reach down below the chest for the breath. This is how we get that diaphragm movement like so so for those of you that are very tight in this area. Particularly dancers have a hard time with this because they're always tucking their stomach or for those of you that have very tight abdomens or work your abdomens out a lot, this is going to be a little bit tougher for you. In the long run your vocal range will improve.
With this hand that's being placed on your upper stomach, I want you to apply more pressure in the areas that don't move. So if your rib cage doesn't move or your upper stomach doesn't move. Perhaps your back muscles where my thumb is wrapping around to if either of those areas feel tighter than normal. Apply more pressure so if your if your stomach feels tighter apply more pressure as you breathe. I just want you to keep that chest elevated hand here on the upper stomach with your fingers pointing in hand on the ribcage exhale your air pressure but don't drop the chest so you don't want to go like that right chest stays up.
Try that again. Take your breath in blow your air out keep the chest elevated. It's the first step to using the diagram correctly. Second step is trying to open down here so breathe down into your abdomen and your ribs and you're back all the way around into your back and blow the air out. The chest stays up and doesn't drop. Then take a breath in reach down into your abdomen. Imagine that from going all the way down blowing. Keeping the chest elevated you're on your way to breathing into your diaphragm. Keep this in mind when singing with your diaphragm.
Learn how to sing from your diaphragm
I don't think there's a singer alive who hasn't been told to sing from the diaphragm. What does that even mean? And, more importantly, is it an instruction you should even take any notice of? – [Voiceover] Soundcheck. Check one, check two. (cheering) – Hey there, welcome to Voice Essentials. My name is Dr. Dan, and I'm so pleased you clicked on my video. Have they have ever told you to sing from the diaphragm? From my experience, it seems to be an age-old instruction that many singers associate with singing well. Enjoy the voice lesson below.
But, when I ask beginner students to locate their diaphragm for me, not only do most people not know where it is, they often don't even know how it works or what it does. So, first, what is it? And how to sing from your diaphragm? Well, the diaphragm is a rather large muscle. The second lodged in your body, actually, that literally separates your thoracic cavity. Containing your heart and your lungs, from your abdominal cavity, the lower-half of your torso.
The diaphragm has a dome shape and is often labeled as having two divisions. A left and right division. Unlike other voluntarily controlled muscles, the diaphragm is connected to the autonomic nervous system. This enables you to breathe without having you think about it, even while you sleep. But of course, singing basics is a very conscious activity requiring intentional management of the diaphragmatic movements. So, how does that all work?
The best way to think about the diaphragm's work is to simply ignore it. That's right. You see, first, you can't really directly control the diaphragm, anyway. In fact, you'll never hear me telling you to learn breath control. The word control, to me at least, suggests that the singer needs to learn to consciously move the diaphragm up and down. Just like you choose to move your arm or your hand. No, we don't have that kind of control over our diaphragm.
What we can learn to do is manage the diaphragmatic movements via other muscle sets. So, with your vocal range in mind, let's briefly talk about the two events of breath management: inhalation and exhalation.
The diaphragm contracts during inhalation. That means it's moving downwards. Now, the only way your diaphragm can fully contract is when your abdominal wall fully releases. I often say to my students, “Good singing “is frumpy singing” Sorry, girls. You need to learn to let it all hang out when you inhale. To make my point, do this for me. Hold your tummy. Get your tummy muscles and hold them in really tight. Now, try to breathe in. Notice how little air you can take in when your abdominal wall is too tight.
So, that's the first step. When singing with your diaphragm, you need to release the abdominal muscles. These muscles you can directly control, in order to manage the active descent of the diaphragm. One small point before we continue. Try and avoid the temptation to push your tummy muscles out. The word release should denote a letting go of tension through your midriff, not a purposeful push. Okay, now let's talk exhalation. And, this is where we put that old instruction to sing from the diaphragm to rest, once and for all. When you exhale, the diaphragm is, for the most part, passive. That's right. At the very moment when you are creating sound, the diaphragm is inactive. When you follow the fact to its logical conclusion, it's an anatomical impossibility to sing from the diaphragm. It simply can't be done. The muscles that we need learn to manage for exhalation are mainly the abdominals and the obliques. – [Voiceover] Soundcheck. (cheering) – So, now, we understand that you can't sing from the diaphragm. The facts are, that your sound is created at the level of your vocal cord, and is fueled by your breath stream.
Many vocal coaches sing with power. But when you learn to breathe properly you can understand throat tension and shallow breaths. Vocal exercises will not damage your vocal range at all. When your diaphragm flattens you will also notice your lungs fill with air.
With this knowledge in place, we can confidently state that we sing with our whole body, not just the diaphragm. Actually, we sing with our body, mind, and soul, but that's another video for another day. Before we sign off, allow me to give you an exercise that is designed to empower you with a heightened sense of kinesthetic awareness connected to your breath. I often refer to this breathing exercises as developing a biological fuel gauge for the singer. Imagine driving a car with no fuel gauge.
You'd literally be driving along, fully expecting the car to run of petrol at any moment. This, in turn, is probably gonna cause you to pull-in to the gas station far more frequently. Probably, more than you need to. And, that's what I see singers doing all the time. Because, they haven't developed good breath management, alongside a heightened physical awareness of their breath capacities, they either run out of air pressure prematurely, or need to inhale at the most inopportune times. Of course, it doesn't have to be that way, and that's where this exercise comes in. Many of you have my exercise CD, Dr. Dan's Voice Essentials, and this exercise is found on track 12. All we're going to do is breathe in for eight, suspend for eight, and exhale for eight. Now, some quick instructions. When you breathe in, I want you to reach your full point at eight, not five, six, or seven.
Also, don't allow your shoulders to rise on the in-breath. Remember, we wanna release the abdominal wall (exhales), allowing the diaphragm to descend fully. And, when we suspend the breath, it's important to do that by engaging your obliques, they're down here, and your abdominal wall, which should feel a bit like firm jelly. Do your best to avoid the temptation to lock your larynx down in order to hold your breath. This is called valving, and we don't wanna do that. At this point, we are literally suspending the motion of the diaphragm. And then, when you exhale, do so using an SH (exhales). And do that over the full count of the eight. You should reach your empty point on the count of eight. And, the exhalation should be even and consistent from beginning to end.
Okay, let's do the exercise together over the count of eight. – [Dr. Dan On CD] Inhale, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. Suspend- – Suspend. There should be no tension. It should be all feeling good, nice and engaged through your abdominal wall. (exhales) – [Dr. Dan On CD] … two, three four, five, six, seven, eight. – How'd you go? Most of you will have found the activity relatively straightforward. So, if you have the exercise CD at home, I want you to let the track run. It works its way all the way up to 20. That's right, 20 in, 20 suspend, 20 exhale. One word of caution, however. Only move on to the next level once you've mastered the preceding count. That is, for example, don't go to 12, until you're doing a solid 10. Also, at no point should you feel tension through your shoulders, neck, or larynx. The whole idea of this exercise is to activate your whole breath management team. And, that should result in the significant reduction of tension throughout the upper-half of your body. Importantly, this exercise is not about increasing your lung capacity. So, be sure to take the exact same amount of air in during inhalation phase, regardless of the count.
You're simply learning to move the same amount of air over differing amounts of time. And finally, take the opportunity to physically monitor your body, your instrument, throughout each of these three phases. How does your body breath? Where are you feeling movement? Where do you feel tension? It's all about developing a better sense of how your instrument is using the air pressure. I hope you've learned something today. I'm always keen to dispel age-old myths about voice, replacing them with fact-based information. Leave me a comment, and tell us all here at Voice Essentials whether or not you've received instruction to sing from the diaphragm. Please don't name and shame. We're not out to … Not on a witch-hunt here, but I am keen to learn about your experiences. And, if this is your first time to Voice Essentials, welcome. I hope you've enjoyed the tutorial. I upload videos just like this one every Tuesday and Thursday. So, if you think information like this will be helpful to you and your vocal development, I'd love you to subscribe, and join our ever-growing community of singers from across the globe, who just like you, want to raise their voice in song.
Hopefully, I'll see you in the next Voice Essentials video. I'm Dr. Dan. Sing well. (cheering).
Get comfortable Singing from your Diaphragm
Hi beautiful singers this is Valerie white Williams with vocal splendor studios and I am back to talk about another vocal myth today's myth isn't exactly a myth but it's something a lot of people have a lot of misconceptions about and today's topic is how do I sing from the diaphragm. The diaphragm is something a lot of singers talk about most people hear in choir.
Singing with your diaphragm,speak from the diaphragm and using your diaphragm. I found in my years of teaching that very few people really know what the diaphragm is it's something that has talked about but no one really knows what it is no one's always seen it I kind of like to think of the diaphragm was like a unicorn we've heard about it but but but what is it um here's the deal about the the diaphragm as a diaphragm is a breathing muscle and it's a muscle that sits at the base of our ribcage.
If you want to know how to sing from your diaphragm, I invite you to go ahead and fill your rib cages mine comes down really far it comes up here comes all the way down like that okay the diaphragm sits inside that rib cage kind of like this I like to think of it as like a trampoline you know how trampoline has those rings and it's all attached around the trampoline and it moves up and down it's kind of like what our diaphragm is except is all around our ribcage it goes all the way around front and the back and it sits like this like my hands are like this.
When we take that big breath this is why that does. It goes like this, it contracts and makes our ribs stick out and then when we breathe out it typically does this it releases and the diaphragm goes from here to this um the concept of breathing in the belly our breath does not go in the belly but everything that it pushes down goes in the belly so learning to control or be aware of the diaphragm is one of the most important things that singers need to do now I use the word control and that's not really quite how the diaphragm works because the problem the diaphragm is it completely within our body we can't consciously breathing control it and we really can't feel it move but what we can feel is the results of the dive I'm contracting we feel that when we inhale and we feel it release putting your hands on the rib cage is a great way to begin this now I don't recommend you doing this when you perform okay don't do it I've seen people do it and it always looks really silly however when you're first learning the breathing put your hands on your ribcage.
Start singing with your chest voice. These effective exercises and singing tips will help you in the long run.
What we're trying to learn is how to manage that breath and how to inhale and exhale. This is crucial in any voice lesson. A lot of people talk about the diaphragm and using the diaphragm and the only thing to talk about is taking that big deep breath and that's really important that's how we activate the diaphragm that's how we get it to go down but the real control is singing is not that the real control is singing is how we slowly taper off the breath remember I showed you we're going to take a big breath and what if I hold it my ribs are really strong but when I let it go my ribs collapse boom my breath is gone and when we sing we don't want to breath to be gone we want to taper it out slowly so what we need to learn to cultivate is that feeling of holding our breath in our ribcage and tapering out slowly or actually using a bunch of breath and pushing it out forcefully like that what we're doing now instead of breathing in contracting our diaphragm breathing out letting go the diaphragm meanwhile the ABS are blowing the air out our diaphragm is not going to just let go and let the ABS push out there the diaphragm is going to push down stay down the way we do that is by being aware of this feeling and a rib cage and resisting air pressure.
It's kind of like a dam how we use it people use dams to generate power they hold back water let a little bit out and by holding back the water they generate power so when we hold back our breath by using our diaphragm and keeping it down meanwhile we're beating out or generating power and generating that power is how we do all the fancy things that singers do like high notes and the whole long notes lots of power and strength that comes from getting in touch with the power so when I have this diagram is gonna go down take a big inhale gonna hold it now instead of reading it out I'm going to taper it out I'm using s sound I could use other similar kinds of sounds um some uses e you notice as we make that sound I feel really strong and your ribcage another place to feel is right here the solar plexus where it's squishy below the ribcage I'm gonna feel strong that strong feeling is what I use to sing that's how I get those high notes but your body has to remember how to use this now here's the ironic thing people think oh I need to learn how to sing from the diaphragm okay we don't have a mouth here we don't sing from the diaphragm but we learn breathing control the air now.
Here's the other thing your body already knows how to do. This this is not a new thing you don't have to learn how to play the piano blow horn your body does this all the time you're just not aware of it and consciously using it let me show you when you you're gonna feel that same pulsing pushing feeling in the ribcage hahaha laughs laughs laughs okay we're also going to feel that's him pushing the ribcage so what we want to do is become aware of that feeling how does it feel – first of all inhale feel firm and strong exhale feel the claps what we want is no collapsing and we want to hold it strong strong ribs and then you can go yeah-ha-ha-ha constant around the feeling then the next thing we work on is singing it ya-ha-ha-ha strong feeling the ribs we're trying to learn to feel that pulse or that inner fist in the rib cage which again is resisting the air it's creating more air sure and it's the air pressure that helps the sing not the breath the pressure you want to control the pressure.
One more thing about that different vocal styles require more of that breath energy some vocal styles are really relaxed and chill some jazz Norah Jones. Be sure to see the singing lessons offered here. When breathy come away with me into the night okay that's a really breathy sound we don't quite need that a real breathy sound is just not going to require as much breath energy anytime the cords have breath huh huh we're not doesn't require a lot of breath energy in fact sometimes readiness happens when there's not enough breath energy behind the chord specially on people's high notes again haha none of Brad forces ha breath energy we helps the chords also function in a better way so the breath energy is really important again some vocal styles don't require a lot of breath energy singing a lullaby you don't need to work as hard you're not projecting that voice where other vocal styles like opera and especially hard rock those styles are high compression lots of energy if you don't have the diaphragm breathing down you probably won't build a single local styles because they require you have them breathing all together but that said even other types of singers once you learn that breath then you know how to access those high notes how to power them when you can power them from the breath then you don't have to resort to other habits like hopefully you know do that but I have seen many straining and pushing and pulling up here because it's not where it needs to be really good singers make it look easy because their breath is under the breathing control and they're strong in the ribcage and our feeling that strength strength so practice those hisses that's what I make all my students do practice with the short ones pulsing and the long get used to how that feels watch more videos about reading take a look at the other videos that I favorited in my vocal cord singing technique page they will show you some 3d ideas and other people talking about how the breath works it's very important that you learn this I will probably talk about it again but anyway good luck this is it for today and I will see you next.
Use your Diaphragm to Increase Vocal Range and Power
The question is how to sing from the diaphragm. More specifically we'll be getting into how to push down and out from the diaphragm when you need a little more support or some extra power in your voice.
If you haven't already seen the other Tube videos in this series be sure to check them out first. Many teachers have tried to address this in various ways. Some of the common uses of imagery to address this include thinking of like you're pushing for a bowel movement. Another thought is like you're pushing something really heavy or like you're trying to lift up something really heavy.
While those are all getting at the same thing, I would like to leave you with something a little more concrete that you can feel and experience. What we're going to do is a bit of an extension of the first video. Take your fingers like this. I'm going to place them on your sides keep in mind your finger should be right below where your ribs are.
So if you feel for your ribs okay rip your rib here and then as soon as you hit the spot where your last rib is. That's what your fingers should be touching. Your finger should not be all the way down here at your pelvis. It should be up higher. So find your love handles again right below your ribs. Right below your lowest ribs and what I want you to do is pop out your cheeks like this.
You're going to make sure you keep your lips together because you're not blowing out air with this. You're using your lips to stop the air. Then you're puffing out your cheeks from there. So once again and now what you will do is try to pop up your cheeks as powerfully as you can as though you're trying to blow up candles on a cake that are 10 feet away.
Remember we're not actually blowing out in the air but you're trying to blow out air. What you should feel when you do this if you do it correctly you should feel engagement of muscles right there where your fingers are at.
Right along in here slightly on the front side and even going around to your backside where your thumb is. At this is the push the pushing down and out sensation that is often talked about and singing.
What I want you to try now is we're going to do a little experiment. Hold your chest up high like this, still keep your hands on your sides and then try to puff out your cheeks again. Notice how much you can push down and out. Pay attention to how much you can push down and out from your back where your thumbs are. This time I want you to do it differently. I want you to round your upper back like this almost like you have a hunchback and then try the same.
Then compare this way with being more upright with your chest. What you should notice is that you're a little more hunched over like this. You can push out in your back much more once again. As I've mentioned before singing from the diaphragm should really be called singing from your back.
Because your back is what will really engage very very strongly on a diaphragm engages strongly. Now we're going to try it another way. Once again feel for your love handles alright blow your ribs.
This time what I want you to do is look up it's looking up towards the ceiling and then try to pop out your cheeks. Notice how much you can push down and out here especially in your back. When you do that and then to contrast that we're going to try this other motion with the head bring your chin down towards your sternum. I'll show you from the side looks like this so your chin. Let's try to touch your sternum here and then from this position try to puff out your cheeks and notice how much you can push down and out.
Especially in your back. But you should notice with this one is when your head is down more like this. You can push out in your back much more strongly. We can go to our third variable which will affect this. That's how you're holding your pelvis.
Your pelvic tilt: There are two types of tilts that you can have to your pelvis. Something called an anterior pelvic tilt and it looks like this. From the side that's when your butt is sticking out more like this. You get an arch in your lower back. This is called an anterior pelvic tilt.
Then you also have a posterior pelvic tilt which is the opposite of that. That's when your lower back flattens out and your pelvis curls under you a bit like this. So what I want you to do is go into the anterior pelvic tilt first.
Let your pelvis tip forward and let your butt go back and your lower back starts to arch. Then feel here again where your love handles are and then try to pump out your cheeks. Take note of how much you can push out especially in your back.
Try it again but this time going into a posterior pelvic tilt. Let the lower back flatten out. Let your pelvis curl under you and you might even have to let your knees bend slightly to get into this. More than likely you'll have to put your hands here. Squeeze again and then try to blow up and puff your cheeks out as hard as you can.
What you should notice with that is when you go into the posterior pelvic tilt that allows you to kick in from your lower back muscles much more compared to being in the anterior pelvic tilt.
What we were looking for is what is this position in our body that allows us to push down and out the most strongly. We need to know what that position is. It's a combination of letting the chest fall just a little bit. So you round over a little bit, bring the chin down to the neck and then going into a bit of a posterior pelvic tilt.
Your lower back flattens out letting your pelvis curl under you like this. From this position I want you to try puffing out your cheeks as strongly as you can you should find that you get not only a strong contraction in your back muscles but that your lower abs will also contract very strongly.
What I want you to do now that you found what this down and out pushing sensation. See if you can create that same sensation but without puffing out your cheeks. So you're so basically going to breathe in to hold your breath but then try to find it make sure when you do this your mouth is closed and your tongue is against the roof of your mouth.
You're just going I'd like to see if you can recreate that exact same sensation like when you puff out your cheeks you might need to alternate back and forth between the two in order to get it concretely like this. I have a little more there let me see if I can find it to the same degree and this is where body position is going to come in a bit.
If you start to get into a little of an anterior pelvic tilt or raise your chest too much you won't be able to push out quite to the same degree. Once you've found that label that as pushing out to 100%. Now what I want you to do is see if you can maintain that down and up pushing sensation here for count of maybe five to ten seconds so like this. So taking your breath and then push down and out keep it going keep it going keep it going consistently.
What will normally happen is after you start pushing down and out for a second or two, then it's going to want to relax. Don't let it relax. You have got to keep a steady down and out push. This is the sensation that you should be feeling in your body as you were singing a phrase this is your body connection. This is your support kicking in so now we're going to combine this with sound and it's going to be a little sound like.
Pretend like you have just eaten something really really delicious. You're like MMM mmm mmm is so good that kind of sound make that go MMM mmm mmm. Make sure it's not hmm hmm with an ancient fundament like you're thinking like hmm. That will not help you with this it has to be mmm no H at all so come here. What you're going to do is push down out but only to a degree of maybe 50% of your maximum push that you can get here.
Start holding that out for a couple of seconds and after you have that for a couple of seconds make this mmm sound so try that bring it in hail your air push down and out it's 50% mmm-hmm. When you do this you should feel that when you're making the mmm that there's still a steady down and out push where your hands are.
It should feel comfortable in your throat. If it feels uncomfortable in your throat when you're doing this then you might need to decrease the amount you're pushing out. Instead of 50% maybe try it to 40% or maybe even 30%. We'll play around with this a little until you find the degree of pushing out that feels most comfortable to you in your voice.
Once you've found that then see if you can do it on a little slide. As you're doing this you should feel like steady constant down or not push here. Once you've got that going then try it on an e note. If you can go breathe in, start pushing out before you even can. You do it just like that just find whatever is comfortable for you. Slide around on it a little try different pitches and just make sure you're maintaining our constant steady down and out push.
If it gets like this it then that means that you start pushing too hard too soon before you made sound you need to back off just a little. Once you've got that going then you can try applying this idea to either simple scales that you're singing or a phrase or two from a song. Just to get a sense of how this works. The key is to keep in mind pushing down and out here the sides before you even make sound. Then maintain the stay down and out push as you are singing the entire phrase. If you get tight in your throat when you're doing this then back off the degree at which you are pushing down and out.
At the start of the sound and that should alleviate some excessive tension here. Keep in mind that when you're lower in your range like closer to your speaking range. You will not be able to push down and out here as strongly as when you're higher. When you're higher it can take a lot more of that and a lot more of that pressure. I hope you found this article and video on how to sing from your diaphragm helpful. Be sure to visit the how to sing page for all the ways you can learn to get better in singing.