If you haven’t yet read my post on how to use your diaphragm for singing, start there. Else, now that you know how to use your diaphragm better for singing, it’s time to learn the 3 golden rules of breathing for singing.
Rule 1: Breathe In, Hold It, Sing
When speaking in daily life, breathing is broken down to two phases: a. inhalation and b. speaking. When singing, however, breathing should be broken down to three phases: a. inhalation, b. pausing and stabilizing the diaphragm, and c. singing.
Remember that the diaphragm is trying to push air out for exhalation right after inhalation. Without the intermediate step of stabilizing the diaphragm, we risk to loose air as our ribs press on our diaphragm during exhalation. And the easy thing about this step is that it’s nothing more than holding our breath.
Rule 2: Don’t Overfill Your Lungs
When inhaling air for singing, don’t fill your lungs to full capacity and stretch your diaphragm to the maximum. I know that this rule sounds strange as we usually want to inhale as much air as we can, but there’s a reason for it.
When the diaphragm is stretch to it’s fullest, it’s hard to control it when it first starts to relax. Just like any other muscle, or even a rubber band that’s stretch to capacity, there’s an initial kick which for our purposes means that the notes sang will sound forced and loud. So, make sure you lower your diaphragm as much as possible while still maintaining control over it. Don’t overstretch it.
Rule 3: Breathe At the End of the Previous Phrase
The third golden rule of breathing for singing is that you should always breathe after the last note of a phrase and not before the first note of the following phrase; unless of course there’s a large pause in-between.
This small difference in your breathing time will make a large difference in the control you’re going to have over your air as it will give you enough time to breathe as much as as you need, and go about rule 1 stabilizing your diaphragm before singing.
Rule 4: Sing on an Empty Stomach (Bonus)
I know I said the rules are 3, but this one is so important for singing in general that needs to be here. Never, ever, sing on a full stomach. As I talked about in my post about how to breathe using your diaphragm better, the diaphragm compresses on the stomach and intestines to make space for the incoming air.
So, think about it: what will happen if your stomach is full?