Part 1: Exercise to Help You Fully Integrate Breath Into Your Singing – Get On The Ball!
Fully Integrate Your Breath Into Your Singing
Singers who fully integrate their breath into their music-making find benefits in sound quality, clarity, stamina, character development, and even memorization. Why is this? Because the music is fully in and on their body. Today I share with you the first of a five-part series showing you different exercises to fully integrate your breath into your singing. Read the step-by-step instruction below and watch the demonstration video and then have fun applying the work to your song. Get on the ball!
These are variations of exercises passed on to me by Madeline Abel-Kerns, founder of the body, breath, sing™ method. This work has helped countless students from coast to coast. While it can be useful for everyone, I find it particularly helpful with students whose primary learning modality is kinesthetic.
Before You Start The Exrecise
A few reminders before we begin – for me, I found these exercises work very well in short dosages…practicing them gently when first learning a piece, or problem solving a difficult section of a song or aria. The aim is to bring awareness to muscles and stimulate coordination that may have been dormant in our music-making. The exercises are physically active and move a great deal of air through the throat. Be gentle; provide space in your body as you work by lengthening your spine, grounding your sitz bones, and releasing air freely….
1. Grab your favorite exercise ball or you may use a chair or low stool.
2. Select a phrase of music.
3. Sit on the ball with your legs open and feet firmly grounded, your sitz bones squarely under your torso, spine is neutral – neither extended forward or rounded, shoulders also neutral – not pushed back or slouching forward. Sternum is slightly lifted. Neck is relaxed and buoyant. Jaw is also relaxed… soft, slack… you may even allow it to fall in the down and back position as recommend by New York City coach David Jones.
4. Get comfortable on the ball and sing your chosen phrase on your favorite vowel.
5. Sing the phrase again, but before you make sound, allow all the breath to exit on the exhale and naturally fill up your lower abdomen on the inhale – beginning your phrase of music with the exhale…singing on the breath.
6. With this breathing cycle as your foundation of the exercise, add in arm movements. The arms are strong and have a sense of resistance and pulling through the phrase of music as you sing it. I think of a strong ballet arm as I sing. Practice this a few times before you move on.
7. Now add a slightly shifting pliée into the action, feeling a stretch in the inner thigh and contracting your buttocks. If you were to take the ball away it would look like this. (see video) The ball allows you to sit lower in the pliée and connect more deeply to your breath in your pelvic floor.
8. Work the phrase of music into and onto your body – feel free to explore with the gestures and the timing of your movements. Allow your body to be in charge. The less the brain is engaged the better. With every breath and movement, feel the musical phrase.
Have fun and play!
It is my firm belief that as an athletic singing musician, the more we bring awareness and coordination to the entire body – our entire instrument – the easier it is to perform with more beauty, joy, and confidence.
Try this exercise on for yourself. Play, be gentle, think about space and breath in your work and have fun! Let me know how it goes for you… and don’t forget to share this article with your singing friends.
Have a great week, and always, Rejoice In Your Voice™
Click the Video Below to Watch Exercise Demonstration…
November 23, 2013
Thanks Tricia – I’m not a singer (except in that embarrassing the kids way!), but I do some public speaking. Wouldn’t these ideas be valuable to practicing and feeling relaxed for a presentation?
November 27, 2013
Thank you, Barbara, for your comment 🙂 My mom always said that if you can talk you can sing! Please rejoice in your voice™ as well!! Just belt it out with no excuses!!!I think this exercise would be great in warming up your voice before speaking…pick some words and sustain the vowels – allowing the voice to travel throughout your range…high and low. Next time you are using the ball to do some core crunches….just sit up and “sing” a little bit…connecting your breath to your sound 🙂 Let me know how it goes!
November 27, 2013
This is a great blog and I look forward to using this exercise. Thank you so much!
November 27, 2013
Oh, Kelly, I am so glad you found it helpful! Yay! You are welcome 🙂