So how do you get it?
- breath support and
- breath control.
1. InhalationYour posture is all-important here. try inhaling as you stand or sit flexibly tall, chin level, head balanced over your tailbone instead of forward. This should cause the upper curve of your spine to be straighter, which will open the ribcage wide. Your low abdominal wall should easily expand as you breathe in, allowing your diaphragm to flatten out and lower the floor for your lungs. This kind of inhale feels like a quiet, quality breath falling into the pelvic floor (which is really into the lower lungs) ... no gulping or gasping sensation needed! You don’t need a huge inhale… just breath enough to accomplish the phrase you intend to sing.
2. Breath SupportLet's define breath support as that which moves air up and out, passing through and vibrating your vocal cords. To get it, you’ll need to contract those low abdominal muscles you just relaxed for the inhale.... This will support the dome of the diaphragm moving up and pressing air from the floor of the lungs - but keep the squeeze below the navel. In fact, the safest way to engage breath support is to focus on tensing your gluteus maximus (butt) muscles, which will naturally cause your low abs to also contract. We’ll talk about why next:
3. Breath ControlLet's define this as that which holds air back as it's coming up. To control your exhale, keep the bottom of your ribcage wide! This keeps the diaphragm, which is connected at its edges to the bottom of the ribcage, stretched taut like a trampoline or drumhead. The stretched diaphragm can then control itself and the air it allows upwards. In fact, the biggest saboteur of breath control (and the voice in general) is a dropped or tight ribcage!
I call the delicate and vital balance of breath support and control ‘pulling’ instead of ‘pushing’ air. It is a compression source of air power, centered and sensed in the pelvic floor or saddle area – NOT in the lower rib area that comes from a wrong understanding of breathing from the diaphragm. You back off the air pressure to the minimum needed to make the sound you want. The sensation of pulling instead of pushing breath is, in my experience, the best way possible to have optimum vocal control.
4. Mental Focus
- to hit a particular pitch a particular way - such as using a particular tone, volume, degree of shimmer or vibrato or straight tone, phrasing and other nuances of the human voice;
- to communicate a specific message and get a specific response.