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By Selena, 18/12/2020, Category:Breathing and Posture
I’ve always found it surprising how many singers find breathing a major issue in their singing. Surely breathing is a natural thing that we’ve always done, right?
But in my 9 years of coaching I’ve discovered that so many people are unwittingly restricting their own breathing. (not referring to people who suffer with medical breathing problems)
And this has a major impact on their singing.
They can’t fill up with breath as easily as they want, and they can’t sustain their sound for as long as they want.
My student Naia had this same problem.
I taught her my full toolkit of techniques , which she did her best to implement, but something was still missing, and she was struggling to get all the breath she needed and manage her outbreath.
So I puzzled over this and racked my brains for a solution.
As you probably know, the way I coach singers I have a very holistic approach. Meaning that I work with the interdependence of mind, body and spirit. So I delved into this.
I asked myself, what do the in-breath, and the out-breath, MEAN on a fundamental, spiritual, emotional level?
I came up with some answers, which, whilst not necessarily being the be-all and end-all, have since proved incredibly powerful in enabling my students to access their full breathing flow.
So, having taught Naia all the ‘physical’ breathing techniques I knew without full success, I got her working with 2 special affirmations I developed from this investigation.
When it comes to the in-breath I got her to say to herself:
‘ I open to the goodness of life. I deserve, and am willing to receive, the abundant energy of life’
This worked incredibly well for her because as soon as I told her the statement, she realised that her mental state was the opposite of that. She didn’t believe she deserved the goodness of life and so didn’t allow herself to receive it.
So she switched to using this mantra repeatedly, and allowed herself to believe it.
As a result, all the subtle physical patterns of her breathing muscles naturally co-ordinated differently, and allowed her to let her breath in fully and automatically. Eureka!
(In fact, the way her breathing pattern changed was exactly what I had been asking her to do with the earlier, physical, exercises. It’s just that she had not been able to do them properly without the underlying attitude shift)
When it came to the out-breath I got her to repeat:
‘ I am happy to express myself. I am willing to be heard. I want to be heard. I allow my full self to be received and witnessed by life. My unique energy is welcome in the world.’
Again this brought about a deep mental-emotional change for Naia.
She realised that she had been in a state where although she wanted to sing well, she also did not want to be heard, she actually wanted to hide. So how could she allow her breath (as the blueprint for sound) to fully flow out?
As she gradually changed her attitude through using the mantra, her physical breathing pattern responded with its own involuntary, intelligent shifts.
And from then on her out-breath powered her sound with much more ease and sustain.
I was SO thrilled with this discovery that now, when I work with my singing students on their breathing, I almost always incorporate the affirmations aswell as the physical techniques.
It’s very satisfying to see vocalists free their breathing, and allow it be something that serves their singing without having to think about it or struggle with it anymore.
I’ve developed a very effective framework which I call the Dynamic Flow Breathing Method, which incorporates both the physical and mental-emotional approach. It allows singers to breathe optimally for singing so they can focus their attention on expressing themselves through song.
I share this approach in my training course for individuals, Breathe Right For Singing.
So give these affirmations a go, and let me know in the comments, how you get on with them!
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