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Chrys Page, voice coach and author has kindly provided permission for us to place excerpts from volume 1 of the e-book A Voice For a Lifetime in 30 Days online! This provides YOU with a unique opportunity - read the articles or buy the ebook which comes complete with audio samples!

A Voice For A Lifetime - Ebook for Singers - Click Here to Purchase Table of Contents
Introduction
Preface
Relaxation
Breathing
Creating the Sound
The Resonators
Maintaining Quality
Reviewing the Seven Deadly Sins
Stage Presence
A Final Word
About the Author

BREATHING

Probably the most natural thing the body does is breathe. You don't have to tell it to do this, it just does it! From the moment you come into this world, you begin breathing, and if you'll notice how a newborn does it, you'll get a clue into our first exercise.

A newborn infant breathes through its nose and the air fills the baby's stomach so that when it inhales and exhales, you observe the belly rising and falling, rising and falling. No other part of the body moves but the stomach. Animals breathe this way too. Sometime, watch your pet as he sleeps. Only the stomach area rises and falls, not other body parts; not the shoulders, not the chest, only the stomach.

So, if it's such a natural process, why do so many singers do it incorrectly? There is a profusion of conflicting views on this subject in the voice teaching profession. Most "legit" teachers believe that the most important aspect of sound creation is "posture". After all, before trying any instrument, one should learn how to hold it, and vocally, this means posture. However, as we will learn, standing erect like a soldier with chest high, shoulders back, and buttocks tucked in, strains the organs in the neck and the muscles needed to make the sound. Once we learn how to relax the body, natural breathing follows.

Lie on the floor and put a pillow under your head. Breathe in through your nose, and fill your belly with air. Notice how your stomach rises and falls with each inhale and exhale. You may wish to place a heavy object, perhaps a few phone books on the abdominal area right below the ribs. As you inhale, the weights should rise; as you exhale, they should go down. Notice how only your belly moves in this position, not your shoulders, or chest. This is the proper way to breathe for singing. Spend at least 5 minutes doing this so that you can experience how it feels to breathe this way. Your own sensory awareness will be a key factor in your progress. Remember that feeling the air traveling through your body, (instrument) is the first rule. And the first of the Seven Deadly Sins is using critical judgment rather than sensory awareness.

Now stand up with your knees slightly bent in a relaxed position. If you have a full-length mirror, this is beneficial. You can even slouch (something your mother told you to NEVER do), for this exercise. Take a breath into your belly and try to duplicate the same sensory experience that you had on the floor. If your chest or shoulders are rising, you are doing it incorrectly. You want to stand in a relaxed position, not erect, and have only your stomach move in and out as you breathe through your nose and exhale through your mouth.

If you begin to feel slightly dizzy as you do this exercise, you are doing it correctly. The reason for the dizziness is that you are taking in oxygen to parts of your body that don't usually get it.

Breathing with a great heave of the chest, and "filling the lungs" may be fine for lifting weights, but it doesn't work here. If you work out, you may need to spend several days on this exercise alone to "unlearn" the breathing techniques you've been using in the gym.

The most efficient breathing for singing and for speaking is a combination of abdominal and diaphragmatic breathing, or belly breathing. It's not necessary to totally understand anatomy to breath correctly for the voice, but we should have at least a slight understanding of the muscles involved.

Place your hand on the abdomen, at the place where the ribs arch in front, just below the breastbone. This region is known as the epigastrium, and it's a good place to feel the action of the diaphragm. When you breathe in, the diaphragm, (sometimes called the "breathing muscle") drops down and flattens, forcing down the organs of the stomach and lowering the floor of the chest. This action creates the ability to take in more air to the entire body, (including the lungs), than by the expansion of the ribs in chest breathing. And this is the truly the natural way to breathe, the way we did when we first came into the world.

REVIEW PAGE

1. When in a prone position, as you inhale, are you taking the breath in through your nose?

2. When in the prone position, as you inhale, is ONLY your stomach moving up and down?

3. After several breaths through your nose and exhaling through your mouth, have you become slightly light-headed?

4. When you stand and do this breathing exercise, is only your tummy moving in and out?

5. When breathing this way, are your shoulders straight but not raised?

6. In the standing position, is your chest loose and not raised?

7. In the standing position, are your knees slightly bent?

8. Are your arms dangling loosely at your side as you belly breathe in the standing position?

Your answers to each of these questions should be "YES". If not, go back and try again until you can answer each question with a "YES". The development and strengthening of the "breathing muscle" is of paramount importance to the task of vocal mastery. It doesn't take very long to explain the proper breathing method, but it takes as long as it takes for each student to really get it and breath this way when he/she sings. And it's the most important part of your training so don't be impatient. Stay on this exercise as long as you need to in order to totally master this breathing technique, okay?

Read A Voice For A Lifetime Introduction
Read an excerpt from Relaxation
Read an excerpt from Creating The Sound
Read more about A Voice for a Lifetime and purchase online.

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