Understanding the Difference between Breath Support and Breath Management

Understanding the Difference Between Breath Support and Breath Management

You may find it hard to believe, but these are 2 of the most commonly misused terms in singing. So before we start to look at the difference between breath support and breath management, let’s first take a look at what’s involved in the breathing process:

The Nasal Passage
The Mouth (Oral Cavity)
The Trachea
The Lungs
The Diaphragm

Did you know it’s a fact of everyday life that most people only use around one third of their lung capacity on a daily basis for breathing and talking?

It’s true, however, by understanding and learning how the breathing mechanism actually works, you can ‘re-learn’ to use the whole of your lung capacity until it becomes a permanent daily habit.

Re-Learn

If you’ve ever watched a newborn baby breathe, you will see its tummy rise as it inhales and fall as it exhales. This is the body’s way of breathing naturally. As we get older we develop thought processes and bad habits which actually make most people breathe in the completely opposite way.

Not only will re-learning to breath naturally dramatically improve your singing voice and take away lots of unwanted stress and pressure, it will also help you to develop a more healthy way of breathing by allowing more oxygen to enter the body.

Caution

There is an element of caution to be taken into consideration when talking out breathing processes though and that is:

Although you must physically feel the breathing process working when you are ‘re-learning’ – once it becomes natural again, you must learn to completely relax the process and allow it to happen naturally.

How many times have you heard ‘Breathe from your diaphragm?’ or ‘give it more support by pushing from your tummy?’

While these phrases are commonly used by teachers of singing, they do not help promote a freely produced singing tone. Yes the core has to be strong, stable and fully supported, but the diaphragm (which cannot be directly controlled) must be allowed to do its job naturally.

So the difference between breath support and breath management is simply this:

Breath Support
Engaging the core muscles so you have a nicely expanded rib cage and anchored body to allow the breathing process to operate naturally.

Breath Management (otherwise known as Breath Control)
The process of managing the airflow so that you can control tone quality and how long a note or phrase lasts.

There are lots of breathing exercises and ways to maximise breath control over time and these should be developed on a daily basis in order to help you improve your singing voice.

Please feel free to leave any comments on this or any other post as I always love to hear from anyone interested in improving their singing.

Are Singing Lessons Important When Learning to Sing?

Are Singing Lessons Important When Learning to Sing

This really is a subject which has mixed opinion in the singing world and I want to look at the reasons why I think singing lessons are important when learning to sing.

In this fast paced world we live in, it’s very easy to find yourself busy doing things and chasing your tail as you try and balance your work and home life as well as the odd hobby or two.

Now if singing is one of your chosen hobbies, this type of fast lane lifestyle may take you down the road of having no time to devote to learning to sing better, so you just keep singing through the same old songs, with the same old habits and wonder why you don’t seem to be improving your singing voice.

Discipline

This is where the first benefit of singing lessons kicks in. Having a set time every week that you have to make available for your learning is the first step towards the discipline required in order to improve your singing. If you didn’t have a lesson booked in you probably wouldn’t even bother to make time to practise on your own.

The second benefit is your lessons will make you practise. In order to be better for the next time you have a lesson, you have to practise regularly otherwise you find you’re wasting your money on good singing lessons.

The third benefit is your teacher or vocal coach will highlight areas in which you need to practise and improve. This is something you can’t fix if all you’re doing is singing on your own on a regular basis making the same mistakes over and over again.

Singing Lessons

There are lots of different ways you can get singing lessons so let’s explore some of these now:

A Book – reading a good book on singing can really help you, especially when you are starting out. You can pick up lots of good ideas and technical aspects of using your voice. The downside here though is picking the right book from the right author and actually making the effort to read it. This takes a lot of self-discipline to help you improve your singing.

Online search – you can search Youtube for video lessons on how to use your voice. While some of these are very good, it’ll take you a long time to search out the ones that are specific to your voice and what you need. Most are just a display of a really good or professional singer demonstrating how good their voice is. While this may have some impact, it’ll be unlikely that you can sound just like them and you may lose confidence as you become increasingly frustrated trying.

Skype/Facetime lessons – while not quite as ideal as being in person, this type of singing lesson can be very beneficial. If you have a good teacher and a good internet connection, then you can achieve some really productive learning using this method. The downside is it can be quite expensive and not quite as effective as being in the same room as the teacher.

Lessons in person with a teacher – obviously if you have a good teacher and you can afford them, singing lessons in person with the right teacher can work out the most beneficial way of learning to sing better. The downside is it’s very expensive on a regular basis and you have to keep them going for a long time in order to get the most out of your voice.

Online Home-Study Singing Programs – these can be very cost effective and very beneficial if you get the right program from the right teacher. You can learn at your own pace, in your own time, in the comfort of your own home or office without distraction. You still have to be self-disciplined, but nothing good comes without putting that extra bit of effort in. The more seriously you want to take your singing the better you will ultimately be. These programs are yours to keep forever and to use as a great reference whenever you need them.

So you can see why I think singing lessons are so important when learning to sing. It’s very important that you stay focused and on the right tracks, doing all the right things. This will enable you to sing for longer and ultimately mean you’ll get far more enjoyment out of singing.

Developing Your Own Style of Singing

Developing Your Own Style of Singing

Today I want to talk about a subject which is often discussed, but very rarely understood. The importance of developing your own style of singing.

Many people who are new to singing, especially the younger generation, tend to start off by copying their favourite singer and you may well be thinking ‘hey that’s great’ or anything which encourages singing is good.

Yes, it’s absolutely imperative to encourage young or newbie singers to do anything that will inspire or motivate them to start or keep singing regularly. However, there’s a down side to encouraging them to just copy someone they admire or have heard belting out on the TV or live at a concert.

‘Where’s the harm?’ I can hear you ask.

Well there’s actually very little or no harm that will be caused, unless of course they are straining and trying to emulate a singer with a raspy or completely different style of voice, and that can cause all sorts of short or long term damage.

The Negatives

There are potentially a few negative consequences:

  • Temporary or longer term vocal damage due to forcing the voice to sound like someone else and tiring their voice due to excessive push or strain
  • Shortage of musicality or emotion as it’s simply copying rather than an original performance
  • Lack of vocal tone clarity as the vocal mechanism is being compromised through various ‘affectations’

By copying someone else and not sounding the same, this can lead to people mistakenly thinking they can’t sing because they are trying to be something they’re not physically meant to be. This can have a devastating effect on a singer’s confidence

So you can see that while it’s good to keep everyone singing, it’s not ideal to copy someone else who may have a much higher or lower natural range or a completely different timbre to their voice.

Enjoy Being Unique

By developing your own style, you are unique, you are creating your own brand and can sing in any way which is natural to you.

This will allow your voice to be free from tension, obstruction or push, which in turn will create more space, more resonance and a sweeter and fuller tone which won’t damage or tire out.

Two voices side by side will sound much more ‘alike’ if they are each individual’s most freely produced singing tone rather than a compromised mechanism which is being manipulated to sound like something it’s not.

We’re all individual – learn to love and embrace your own singing voice!

Singing with Passion and Emotion

Singing with Passion and Emotion

This is a subject very close to my heart so let’s discuss why singing needs to be a passion and not merely a technical activity.

Of course a certain level of knowledge and understanding of the voice and how it operates are very important in good singing, however, it’s the passion and emotion with which a song is delivered which differentiates a mediocre singer from a true artist.

Let me ask you this…

How many times have you watched a singer and thought, ‘wow, they have a great voice’ or ‘they can sing so much higher than me’? I guess quite a few times.

On the other hand, how many times have you thought to yourself ‘what a fabulous performance’ or ‘that was a great song’?

Chances are that you can relate to the second statement so much more as you will be able to connect the performance with something personal in your own life. When a singer delivers a spell-binding performance which allows you to connect with every single word, you understand the message of the song rather than just being on auto-pilot listening to a technical performance.

How do they do this?

Well primarily because they are passionate about the song or singing in general. They go far beyond the technical elements needed to sing well. They get inside the message and emotion of the song and perform it right from the heart. This is exactly what audiences crave. They are looking for an emotional experience not a technically perfect one. They will forgive slight flaws in technique if the song is delivered with passion and true emotion.

Rehearsing with Passion

There is of course another reason why you should be passionate about singing, whether it’s a hobby or your profession. If you are a singer and you have to force yourself to practise every day, then it’s probably going to feel like a lot of hard work and you’ll either just accept the standard that you’re at right now or you’ll give up. You won’t perform emotionally, you’ll just go through the motions, technically adequate or inadequate.

If you’re passionate about singing, then rehearsing won’t feel like hard work. It’ll be a complete joy to sing every day and you’ll continually strive to gain more knowledge in any way you can, which in turn, will enable you to perform more emotionally and deliver more memorable performances that people will remember for years to come.

Is it time to make singing your passion?

Welcome to neil-firth.com

How to Improve Your Singing Voice

Welcome to neil-firth.com, my brand new site which aims to help people from all walks of life understand more about their singing voice and how best to use it.

Singing has been medically proven to slow the heart rate and reduce stress. It enriches lives and gives you the feel-good factor.

I have a passion for good singing and on this site I’ll be sharing lots of free hints and tips which I’ve used for many years to help singers all over the world improve their singing voice.

If you want to learn more about how your voice works and how anyone, no matter what singing experience you have, can learn to improve, then you’ve come to the right place.

Please feel free to engage in any of the content on the site and share your thoughts and experiences as I always like to discuss ways in which we can all learn to improve.

I’d love to see you back here regularly as I add more articles, thoughts and ideas to the site.

Good luck with your singing journey!