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
put 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
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 up.
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
#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 to drop.
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 work.
#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
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 Holy Scriptures).
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
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
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
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 cross.
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 of Jesus.
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 days.
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!