Ins and Outs of Breathing"
is our life support and an involuntary action that
our body performs, so you would think we couldnt
get it wrong. But, many of us do not breathe
properly, especially when we start singing. This can
lead to a host of problems
including hoarseness, vocal fatigue, inconsistent
performances and can even
affect your pitching. Breathing should feel free and
easy - extra musculature and tension only serve to
drain you of your much-needed energy. The main elements
involved in breathing are the diaphragm, your posture,
the inhalation and the exhalation. Once a basic understanding
of these functions is developed, you can ut it together
to create superior vocal production.
reading any further, stop. Find a mirror and take
in a deep breath. What
does your reflection show? What are your shoulders
doing? Do you look relaxed or tense?
people when asked to take in a deep breath will raise
their shoulders and suck in their stomach. In reality
your body requires the exact opposite action to happen
- your shoulders should stay down and the stomach
should expand outward allowing the diaphragm to drop.
There should be no dramatic change in musculature
and you should look relaxed. So lets consider
the factors involved in achieving this.
diaphragm is a dome shaped muscle that separates the
chest and abdominal cavities. It is attached in front
to the bottom of the breastbone and attached in the
back about three or four inches lower. The perimeter
of the diaphragm is attached to the inner chest wall.
When you inhale the diaphragm contracts downward giving
the lungs room to expand. At this time the intercostal
muscles between the ribs expand outward creating a
partial vacuum. When you do not allow the diaphragm
to drop fully you restrict the airflow and only partially
fill the lungs.
posture equals great sound. Proper body alignment
will maximize your bodys ability to breathe
efficiently and effectively. So what is good posture?
#1 ~ Finding Proper Alignment
with your feet shoulder width apart, weight evenly
distributed. Looking straight-ahead keep your chin
parallel with the floor. Do not tilt it up or down.
Envision a string attached to the top of your head
pulling you toward the ceiling. Roll your shoulders
around to loosen them up and then relax them down
and back, they should feel inline directly over your
hips. Relax your knees slightly and tuck your pelvis
to implement this posture into your practice routines.
Although it may seem uncomfortable and odd at first,
your body will soon adjust to this optimum alignment.
you inhale for singing open your mouth and drop your
jaw. Dont force your jaw downward, instead think
of unhinging it, and simply let it drop comfortably.
Allow the air to fall in gently and fill your lungs.
Think of yawning in your breath. It is important that
the inhalation be inaudible. Do not gasp or suck in
the air. If there is sound created on inhalation the
vocal cords have come together and vibrated. This
means that the vocal cords are never allowed to relax
fully, putting unnecessary strain on them.
doesnt take muscle to exhale just relaxation.
Do not push or force your air out, this will only
cause more tension and strain. Pushed air causes too
much air pressure to build up under the vocal cords
making it much more difficult for them to maintain
their connection. Keep your abdominal muscles relaxed.
Rather than controlling the exhale, think instead
of allowing the air to escape. When you exhale try
to maintain a small steady stream of air.
#2: Diaphragmatic Breathing
in front of a mirror so you can monitor your shoulder
tension. Find your proper alignment. Place a hand
on your stomach just above your belly button.
While keeping the shoulders down, allow the stomach
to move your hand forward as you inhale. Inhale for
a count of five, pause, and then exhale for a count
of five. Repeat. Continue to monitor your shoulders.
If you are having difficulty with this coordination
try laying on your back on the floor with your knees
bent and both feet on the floor. Lying on the floor
will ensure your posture is correct and you will be
able to monitor your stomach rise and fall with the
diaphragms actions. Repeat the exercise, and
then try to duplicate it standing up. When the diaphragm
contracts downward it slightly pushes your organs
forward. Putting your hand on our stomach enables
you to monitor whether you are allowing the diaphragm
this may be challenging to some at first remember
this is how your body was designed to breathe. Unfortunately,
we often get in the way of this natural action when
we try to control or manipulate our bodies. Do not
be alarmed if you feel dizzy or light-headed when
doing these exercises, it is simply that your body
is receiving an extra abundance of rich oxygen. With
practice your body will adjust.
Putting It Together
paying attention to your breathing in every activity
you do throughout the day. Whether standing in line,
walking, talking on the phone or driving in a car:
be conscious of allowing the diaphragm to contract
down as you inhale and relax as you exhale. Once you
feel you have a developed the basics of proper posture
and breathing it is time to transfer it to your song
#3: Developing the Muscle Memory
a song from your repertoire. Place a hand on your
stomach just above
your belly button and find your proper alignment.
Sing through the song one
phrase at a time allowing the diaphragm to drop every
time you inhale. Be
conscious of exhaling a steady stream of air throughout
the entire phrase. Think of the lyrics floating on
a cushion of air. Try slowing the tempo down as well,
singing through the piece slowly will allow you time
to develop the new muscle memory. Then try working
your piece a tempo maintaining the diaphragmatic breathing.
posture and proper breathing will provide the most
success in producing
good quality sound and overall vocal health. Take
the time to practice these
techniques and you will build the muscle memory needed
to carry you into
successful performances night after night.
with kind permission from Tammy Frederick, columnist
Musician Magazine and professional vocal instructor
who offers private lessons and voice workshops through
her studio Tammy Frederick's Voice Studio in Toronto,
Visit her website at: www.tammyfrederick.com
Origins of Easter
is celebrated by both Christians and non-Christians
but with differing meanings. Much like Christmas,
originally adopted to accomodate early pagans, Easter
was used to convert these pagans. Unlike Christmas
however, Easter actually has roots in early Christian
history. Although Easter is literally a Christian
holy day, many of the pagan customs of the time were
weaved into the Christian celebration to make it favorable
to new converts.
western culture, Easter Sunday falls on the first
Sunday after the first full moon following the Spring
Equinox (March 22). Easter Sunday, therefore, can
fall anywhere from March 22 to April 25. Eastern Orthodox
churches have a different method in determining Easter
which can sometimes be observed on the same day as
other Christian religions.
Sunday, which is what people usually refer to, actually
occurs at the end of the Lent period (40 days from
Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday). Sundays are not counted
as part of Lent, but are spent in commemoration of
Easter Sunday, so technically there are 40 days of
Lent and 40 is always a symbol of completion in the
Christian celebration of Easter is observed mostly
from the beginning of Lent to the culmination at Easter
Sunday with many days marked as special to note an
event in connection with the last days of Jesus before
cruxifiction. The Holy Week is the last week of Lent
which begins on Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday is said to
mark the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem when the crowds
laid palms at his feet. Holy Thursday is for the Last
Supper, Good Friday marks the day of the Crufixion
and Easter Sunday marks the day when Jesus is said
to have risen from the dead.
word "Easter" is derived from the Scandinavian
word Ostra or the Teutonic word Ostern or Eastre which
were both Goddesses of spring and fertility whose
festival was celebrated on the day of the vernal equinox.
often spend Easter Sunday engaging in celebrations
which reflect upon the risen Christ. Some honor this
holy day in solemn prayer while others enjoy some
of the pagan remnants of the day.
Jewish people also observed a celebration around this
time of year; referred to in scripture as the Passover,
the observance when the angels of death passed over
the homes of the faithful who marked their doorposts
with the blood of the sacraficial lamb to spare their
firstborn sons from death. Ironically, the Christian
holiday is similar in that Jesus, the lamb of God,
offered a blood sacrifice to spare believers from
a death in hell.
religious historians believe these death and resurrection
legends were first associated with Attis, the Good
Shepherd of the Roman Empire around the time of Christ.
Attis' death and resurrection were also celebrated
at the time of year we would call Easter. The reed
bearers are similar to the palm bearers of Jesus on
his way to Jerusalem. The procession of the tree is
simialar to the Via Dolorosa when Jesus was carrying
of the cross and the effigy of Attis hanging from
a tree is similar to Jesus. Some will argue that Jesus
may or may not have been a real person to whom many
grand myths were attributed. Many others regard Jesus'
death and resurrection account as being true and completely
unrelated to the Roman tradition.
Holy Week is the culmination of events marking the
final days of Jesus before Easter Sunday:
1. Palm Sunday - The Sunday before Easter Sunday
recalling Jesus' entry into Jerusalem a week before
dying on the cross.
2. Holy Monday - Jesus' cleansing of the temple
and turning over the tables of the money changers
to purify the house of worship.
3. Holy Tuesday - Jesus' talk with his disciples
on the Mount of Olives about the soon to come destruction
4. Holy Wednesday - The day Judas decided to
betray Jesus in exchange for 30 pieces of silver.
5. Maundy Thursday - The Last Supper of Jesus
and his time in the garden with his disciples who
would not stay awake before his arrest.
6. Good Friday - The day Jesus died on the
7. Holy Saturday - The final day of Lent and
the Holy Week.
8. Easter Sunday - The resurrection of Jesus.
religions also observe the following as part of the
of the Ascension - The celebration of Jesus ascensending
up to heaven.
or Whit Sunday - 49 days after Easter Sunday recalling
the visitation of the Holy Spirit to 120 Christians
with the speaking of the tongues.
traditions associated with Easter are primarily derived
from Pagan traditions which include:
Cross Buns - The pagan festival had the Saxon
fertility Goddess sacrifice an ox and the horns in
the form of a cross became a symbol of the season,
carved into the breads. The cross represented the
moon, the heavenly body associated with the Goddess,
and its four quarters. The word boun, from which the
word bun came, means sacred ox. As Christianity spread
throughout Europe, buns were made in the traditional
method, but the cross now symbolized the cruxifix
Rabbit and Eggs - Both represent fertility. Dyed
eggs were also used as part of the rituals of the
Babylonian religions. In the pagan spring and fertility
festivals eggs were painted and given as gifts. Eggs
represented fertility and to be given one was to wish
upon the receiver that they may have many children.
The rabbit is another symbol of both springtime and
of fertility which was strongly associated with this
celebration. Has no real merit in the Christian holy
Lilies - Without getting too graphic, the shape
of an Easter lily is almost the shape of a male organ,
another sign of fertility for the season when these
flowers would bloom. Has no real merit in the Christian
Sunrise Service - It was a pagan custom to welcome
the sun God at the vernal equinox at sunrise. Christians
use this early hour to attend church to greet the
promise of the day for a hope of life in heaven.
Candles - The Pagans would light bonfires to welcome
the rebirth of the sun God. On the night before Easter,
many will go to a service to light a candle at a special
your belief and preferred ceremony, HAPPY EASTER!