How to Breathe Correctly to Protect Your Singing Voice

Three Parts:Studying Your Normal Breathing PatternBreathing for SingingImproving your Breathing for Singing

Correct breathing can help you to be the best singer you can be. Not only will it help you sing, but breathing correctly will help you relax for those tense moments when the spotlight's on you!

Part 1
Studying Your Normal Breathing Pattern

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    Notice how you breathe normally. The most important part about learning to breathe freely is to notice how you breathe without manipulating it. The more you know about your own habits, the easier it will be to release tensions and achieve free-flow while breathing.
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    Notice how you're breathing with everything you do. This includes singing (or playing any other instrument), talking, exercising, or doing nothing in particular. Notice what happens to your breath while doing different activities.

Part 2
Breathing for Singing

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    Try not to think in terms of mastering breath. The best way to approach it, is to be a continual student. The moment you think you have mastered something, you stop learning.
    • Probably the greatest obstacle faced by people in the Western world to learning correct, effortless ("classical") singing is the axiom that when you are faced with a problem, "do" something is the usual response! When solving any problem, many people respond by taking action, instantly start using willpower. This mindset will totally undermine any and all "efforts" to sing correctly, easily, and resonantly. Singing, after all, "hijacks" the entire respiratory system, which is mostly involuntary (because if you don't breathe, you die).
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    Stand up straight with your feet about a foot apart and your shoulders relaxed. Gently lift the entire torso up, as if separating the pelvis from the hips. Mentally allow this upward movement to continue, so that the upper chest opens up and out, while you allow the shoulders and arms to drop into their most relaxed position. Continuing this upward feeling,the neck is erect but supple, and the head, face front, feels as if it is "floating" above the neck.
    • Your mental image for assuming this posture easily is a posture of nobility, or a noble bearing.
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    Breathe in so that your torso expands in all directions. This means breathing downwards into your bowels, forward in your stomach and rib cage, backward in your lower back and rib cage and up into your shoulders. Be sure not to raise your shoulders, however. Remember not to hold anything in place, meaning, let the body do what it does. Allow your breath to touch the very bottom of your torso, breathe as deeply as you possibly can. As you get more into the technique, your back and sides will move with your breathing.
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    Understand that the key to proper breathing is positioning your diaphragm correctly. When you're singing, your diaphragm should always be in a "poised" position.
    • Breathe in deeply right now and hold it.
    • Place your fingers on the fleshy part between your rib cages where they meet (right below the center of your bra if you're a girl)
    • As you breathe out, try to keep the part you are touching poised and sticking out but do not push against it. This is a terribly difficult thing to do and will probably not work the first few times you do it. However, this is how the diaphragm should be at all times while you are producing sound. It makes singing a lot easier.
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    Feel an imaginary band. When singing, you should feel like there is a band around your diaphragm (not when you breathe in). Breathing correctly is the most important thing when singing; it helps your voice to be the best it can be.

Part 3
Improving your Breathing for Singing

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    Do breathing exercises to increase the amount of control you have with your diaphragm. To help build stamina and strength, breathe in for four seconds, hold for four seconds, then breathe out for four seconds. After you have mastered this, move to 6-6-6, then 8-8-8, all the way to 20-20-20, but do not go past 20.
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    Consider breathing for singing as a mediation breath. This is a breath that induces a profound calm.
    • Start the breath with a "sigh of relief" perceived in the lower back. This is the involuntary sigh anyone produces following any tension-making activity.
    • Notice calmly that this "sigh of relief" triggers an effortless expansion of breath into the lower lungs. The result will be a 360-degree breath, filling the lower lungs exactly like a car tire lying on its side. You can touch your lower ("floating") ribs and feel them move outward 360 degrees (lower back, sides, and front) as they make way for the lower lung expansion. (When you fill your car tires at the filling station, the tires don't "do" anything; they simply expand as they receive the air. But then the four tires filled with compressed air effortlessly support your two-ton car as you drive smoothly down the freeway at 70 mph (110 km/h). It is exactly the same principle explains the 360-degree "tire" of breath which literally supports singing.
    • Once you have allowed your "tire" of breath to comfortably fill your lower lungs, suspend it. Do not let it collapse (you wouldn't drive on a flat tire, would you?).
    • Allowing this suspended breath to "travel upwards", you will feel it opening the back of the throat involuntarily. This means the back of the tongue involuntarily drops down and back to its most relaxed position, and simultaneously, the soft palate and uvula involuntarily pop up. (The resulting sense of a big space at the back of the throat feels like a sphere, which is why the "old-fashioned" teachers used to call it "a pear-shaped tone".)


  • Practice taking in deep breaths and exhaling slowly for as long as you can.
  • When you sing, try to expand your stomach and basically sing from your stomach and not from your throat.
  • When breathing out, pretend there is a lit candle right in front of you, and you need to avoid blowing it out.
  • Pretend your diaphragm area is a balloon, getting bigger when air is put in, and getting smaller when you breathe out.
  • Try laying on the floor and breathe. This can also help you sing better since it relaxes your muscles and body.
  • When breathing in, pretend you are smelling a rose.
  • Pretend there's a ring around your diaphragm and try your best trying to let it burst (for breathing out).
  • Take a deep breath and let it out as slow as you can.
  • When you are breathing, try holding a note. When you see the same note in a song, you will then know how much air you need to take in.
  • One method is to breathe in for as long as you can, then push out your stomach and try to hold a note for a a song you want to sing.


  • If you sing without breathing correctly, you could damage your vocal cords.

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Categories: Singing