Singing. Part 1

A beginning guide for singing. This article focuses on breathing and breath support.

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So you want to sing? You want to hear your voice piercing notes while your guitar is resting? You want to feel the music not just in your soul and fingers, but your voice? This will be the first of a few articles on the basics of singing. I will aide you in learning to sing more properly as in vocal lessons. You can take these techniques and use them in your own way for your own songs.

What is a building with no foundation or support? The breath is the foundation of all singing. Without breath, no air passes through the vocal cords to vibrate them. The stronger your support, the stronger your voice. But how can I get this support?

Check your posture. Stand up or sit up straight. I want you to let your shoulders not roll forward or back, but to hang evenly at your side. I want you to imagine a string from the ceiling to the top of your head holding you up. Now imagine that string continuing down and picking up your sternum (breastbone) slightly. This will create enough space to breathe properly.

Take a breath in, but instead of breathing in normally, I want you to envision the air moving into your feet rather than your chest. If your belly comes out, you're breathing in correctly. Let it go and breathe in a few more times. Congratulations, you have just breathed using your diaphragm. It's a muscle shaped like an upside-down bowl at the bottom of your ribs. When it contracts, it pulls your lungs down and creates a vacuum in your lungs. Air comes in from the outside to fill this vacuum, and you have a breath.

Now, breathe in again. Once you get it in, make the hut sound that you so often hear from movie drill sergeants. Click on Pressurized Breath under the folder Singing Tips to hear what I'm talking about. This will pressurize your breath so that you can get more sound for a longer period of time. Click on Pressurized Singing to get your first exercise and see how it works. Unpressurized Singing will allow you to hear the difference. The difference isn't much, but you should hear the pressurized singing to be more steady and even.

Your first exercise is to take a breath and sing a chain of numbers as high as you can go. Then take a breath, pressurize it, hold that pressure, and sing that chain of numbers. Practice that pressurization until you can do it without making noise. Click on Pressurized Exercise to hear me exaggerate the latter of the exercises I listed. Notice the inhale and the pressurization are both exaggerated just to let you know what to look for.

Next article will outline sound and pitches! Thanks for reading this.

78 comments sorted by best / new / date

    frusciante_5
    wow r u a teacher something well written but it would have been nice to have a bit more there, in part 1
    phrank
    the envisioning air to yur feet REALLY helped really cool article ( . )( . )
    Out Ta Get Me
    Aww...I've been tempted back here again! I need to learn to sing like Dave! Please someone help me!!! How do you do that 'Oh Baby'??? Thanks
    Out Ta Get Me
    I want to sound like David Coverdale! Is that possible? I hope so..... Aww....nevermind I'll just stick to guitar!
    Duff_McGee
    Hey on the 4th paragraph, does that say, "you're breathing incorrectly" (as in wrong) or "you're breathing in correctly"(as you're doing it right)?
    SingingSabre
    Thank you, switchman33. Never underestimate the power of creative visualization, especially in music.
    fender_ragell
    fender_ragell jammings fun with my band but none of us can singi'll get them to read the artcile
    loserchild292
    are you sure your supposed to push your belly out when you breath. our band director yells at us when we do it. he says your supposed to enflate your chest. I guess your belly goes out a little bit but the major change is that your chest pops up and out.
    GayPower
    Me too, the best way to sing is to use the head voice technique. It involves using your head and a combination of your voice to sound your notes out and involves the use of breathing and singing from your head. Professionals can confim this.
    switchman33
    Sweet Article! That really helped me alot, I thought that visioning your feet thing really worked too.
    Lost
    Good article. I liked it a lot, this should help me. Thanks.
    Spike6sic6
    When your belly goes out it's the "normal" way of breathing...my girlfriend had problems,her belly was going in when she was breathing and she had to learn how to breath normally and speak again...
    mattmuffler
    oh yea and then you go to the tab that says music and then scroll down and all the sound files are there.
    mattmuffler
    he gave the proper link in the replies. its http://chocolate.dmusic.com/music/ but i cant seem to listen to the stream. when i click on the hifi or lofi thing it just downloads a stream file but i can't listen to anything. anyone no wat i'm doin wrong? but great lesson btw! thanks mate!
    gautam buddha
    good article but it does not mention types of voices e.g head voice chest voice etc. It also doesnt talk about the two most important aspects of singing e.g CONFIDENCE and FEEL.
    Xiang
    great to start with those fundamental rule of thumb absolute basics. Had the absolute unfortunate horror of being in the presence of a whiney bitch on a musical production, who had absolutely no vocal training, and I dare say ability. Sitting there hunched over in his chair chewing gum complaining that the director was bitching at him because he wasn't the next frank sinatra. You don't need a voice of gold, look at singers like Alex Kapranos from Franz Ferdinand, far from a perfect singer but he gets the job done. This comment has become a bit of a rant/vent in its own right, but the little things in this article are so important. Just getting the right posture, learning to breathe. all part of the process.
    eXploZive
    Great lesson, so.. it should feel as if you're doing that hut thing while singing?
    mr.de-sane
    ok sorry saber but one more time, you want your belly to come out when you sing right?
    SingingSabre
    Very true, Spike. If you watch an infant breathe, you'll see their belly expand more than their chest as they inhale. It can be difficult to train against the social stigma which encourages people to keep their bellies tucked in. But it makes singing so much easier!
    SingingSabre
    Green tea is packed full of antioxidents, the effects of which start to happen as soon as it touches your throat. Fedaykin: It is possible but in my choral experience I've only met one person like, and even he improved with training. Part 2 has been submitted. Expect to see it any day. It covers tone formation and how to actually sing. Part 3 will be on projection and phrasing. I will also write a bit on using falsetto. Part 4 will be the final part, it will cover exercises and voice maintainence. If you have any questions, PM me and I'll make a Part 5 Q&A.
    slash_620
    i was wondering,are the people who just can't sing at all because of some medical condition or something?cause i think i have it,great article 5 stars
    atee
    He's a singing teacher, isn't he. One can tell from the way he phrases his sentences
    dogsballs
    Cool dog. but whatdo you mean "when your belly comes out your breathing in correctly" are you saying "breathing in correctly" or "breathing incorrectly"???.. my belly goes in when i breathe.
    SingingSabre
    Addendum: I'm not a singing instructor, just a guy who's been in various performing groups, choirs, etc. for about 9 years. I've learned many techniques and helped many people out. I just wanted to help people here out, too.
    stormchaser
    That's pretty cool. singing does sound better when you do that. another good article like this was that one about screaming - now I could be the singer for CoB.
    travel sized
    you got all the points that a beginer should learn. which is good as mainly the beginers are reading this. good job. great artical. can't wait for the rest.