Judy Rodman - All Things Vocal Blog

Training & insights for stage and studio singers, speakers, vocal coaches and producers from professional vocal coach and author of "Power, Path & Performance" vocal training method. Download All Things Vocal podcast on your fav app!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Running Out Of Breath Singing?

Are you running out of breath when you sing or speak? Do you get to the ends of your phrases and have to barely squeeze them out? Is your inhale inadequate to allow control of tone and pitch all the way to the last word? It's highly unlikely that your lungs aren't big or healthy enough. More likely it's one of the following: You either...
  • ...don't take a breath (or inadequately top off your tank when gasping a small high inhale) 
  • ...use too much breath to accomplish your phrase
  • ...or need to find or create a breath mark in the phrase.
What to do about it?
  • Remember you have to inhale! So give yourself permission and create the habit of inhaling adequately for what you will be singing or saying. Learn to take this breath low... fill the bottom of the glass of air first.
  • Learn to focus tone like a rich, controlled laser beam instead of a leaky, breathy uncontrolled flashlight beam. It doesn't take much air to vibrate your vocal folds if you focus tone properly. As I mentioned above it matters more WHERE you take your breath-LOW- than how much air you get in. Use imagery such as "don't leave a breath mark on an imaginary glass plane in front of your mouth". Learn the art of "pulling" instead of "pushing" breath.
  • Plan your breaths for particularly long or wordy phrases. Make it make sense with the thought... and breathe!
  • The "Power" part of Power, Path & Performance vocal training concerns breath. Know that you must master all three cornerstones (breath, open throat and communication) for your best voice. Inhale and control that breath properly and you will also help open your throat and avoid being distracted when you try to communicate.
What is your experience with running out of breath?

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  • At December 14, 2012 at 7:02 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

    A singer usually runs out of breath because there is a constriction in the throat that pushes the vocal folds together. When the voice feels weak to a singer the body can recruit muscles either in the larynx to contract or around it and the airway gets narrowed. What feels like running out of breath is actually running out of space in the airway.

  • At December 14, 2012 at 8:47 AM , Blogger Judy Rodman said...

    Ronni; Thank you for your comment. An interesting take, to be sure. 'What FEELS like running out of breath is running out of space in the airway". I would suggest this is a 'which came first, chicken or egg' paradox though. When we are running out of breath (lungs smaller, ribcage starts to contract to attempt to move (bring up more air, the diaphragm loses it's finer control because the ribcage has become narrow, giving it too much slack. This uncontrolled air pressure through the vocal cords results in muscular contraction around the larynx trying to deal with it. This shrinks the airway space. In my view, the answer is to have enough air to keep the ribcage wide when using the voice. The question seems to be 'what's keeping the ribcage from being able to stay wide." Would you agree?


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