How to Sing – 12. Breathing (1) – 20 elements

Good breathing technique affects at least 20 different elements in singing. Alexander Massey of explains what these are. Alexander is an international soloist and singing teacher, who also specialises in vocal rehabilitation.

34 thoughts on “How to Sing – 12. Breathing (1) – 20 elements”

  1. @VIDEOHEREBOB Sorry it’s been such a long time coming! I hope to get into a rhythm of posting a sequence of videos about breathing over the next few weeks. Cheers. Alexander

  2. Alexander Massey

    @Kaines Thanks. It would be interesting to know what people’s questions are about breathing technique for singing. Hopefully, the sequence of videos I am creating will answer some of these.

  3. Thanks Alex! your videos have been great and I look forward to the rest of these! The way to breath for singing, and “support” is tough to “get” from books and written explanations.

  4. #17 and #18 and #19 are the ones that I’m most interested in. Been chasing the “stamina secret” forever.

  5. Alexander Massey

    Thanks. I have written articles in the past, but I think the medium of video is a much better way of putting these ideas across to someone who isn’t in the room with me.

  6. Alexander Massey

    There are at least two other elements to the stamina question in terms of technique – the degree of ‘grip’ or pressing of the vocal cords, and how well we balance the resonance (delivering power through the use of intensifying the right harmonics, rather than just trying to put lots of pressure on the cords themselves).

  7. Trying to read about singing is useless if you ask me. I’ve got so many books on it and at the end of all of em, you’re left with the thought “Hmm, is that right?”

  8. Alexander Massey

    I have a pretty good grasp of vocal anatomy and function, the techniques to maximise the voice, and an understanding of vocal acoustics; I also have done university-based research on teaching and learning, so have a fascination for how people teach and learn. On that basis, I study the books for whether the writers have a sound understanding of all these topics, and try to learn something from how they are trying to put their ideas across. I don’t think books are good for student singers though!

  9. i have been following ur videos n really got benefitted…thanx a lot my teacher…nw my question is—should singers have a moderate sex life??? dat’s a question i have always looked for an answer..n i don’t think i wld find a better person than u to answer this… because singing has got a lot to do wth breath so if sex life is’nt moderate it might lead to irregular breathing…please reply

  10. Good question. Some singers use sexual intercourse or masturbation to stimulate adrenalin, and get ‘hyped’ up to perform, or to try and release nervous tension. This is not a good idea, as after such activity, our adrenalin reserves are lower. Excessive sexual activity can lead to some people developing congestion in their vocal cords or sinuses, creating a problem for vibration (making the note), and resonance. Sex is fine, but not on the day of performing; control your nerves another way!

  11. thanx a lot for replying sir.. i feel a problem in inhalation actually while singing when i am more into such activities…n also i feel a more tensed throat,diaphragm n abdominal muscles..so breath flow is hampered…is dat normal or is dat a unique case??.because when i closely observe i feel a lower life energy n power while singing after doing masturbation frequently..sometimes i wonder whether healthy married life n succesful singing career together wld be possible for me or not..

  12. After what you say about your sexual activity, I would expect you to have the physical experiences of singing you describe. Singers, performers and athletes can enjoy a good sex life, but it must be balanced and in moderation, given the demands of singing and performing. I think you are describing either excessive sexual activity, or activity that is too close in time to the times when you want to sing at your best. You may need to consider moderating reducing such frequent sexual activity.

  13. being a teacher if u can just let me know how much such activity wld be considered moderate.. i wld really be in a better state of undrstanding if i get to know it in more exact terms from such a big teacher…thanx a lot for giving me time
    .

  14. Learning to sing is also about learning to listen to the messages coming from your own body. You are discovering what affects your vocal cords, sinuses, and production of catarrh. You need to listen to that and change your habits. Find out what works for you. Singers need personal discipline about how they look after their bodies, and how they use them. Do less sexual activity for now, see if you body regains its vitality, and see what affect this has on your singing.

  15. thanx a lot for dis nice councelling…i think i got my answer…. my neck is d most affected out of everything…a kind of numbness i feel.. are ur neck exercises enough to get more consiousness in d neck or shd i visit a physiotherpist.. or go for a massage in neck or to a neuro specialist….

  16. It’s often a good idea to go and see a specialist if you are concerned about something. They can check you physically, which is important. If you are worried, perhaps you need to visit someone with clinical qualifications.

  17. Alexander Massey

    Maybe, eventually. But I see these as specialist techniques that should be attempted only when more basic vocal mastery has been established. They are techniques that should be used sparingly even by competent singers. The wisest users of these techniques have the ‘gain’ high on their microphone inputs – let the amplifier do the work. The body is not built to sustain frequent use of these techniques, despite what you may hear some singers or singing teachers say.

  18. Alexander Massey

    You can certainly improve your singing by looking at Breathing first, but I personally recommend looking at Aligning (and posture) first. If we are aligning our spine well, then our breathing will be helped. And aligning also helps set the vocal instrument up better for operating the vocal folds in the larynx, and maximising efficiency of how we work the resonators.

  19. Alexander Massey

    Sorry – I don’t do critiques and advice on individual performances. I get hundreds of emails and messages. I can only work with those who book paid sessions with me.

  20. Alexander Massey

    It’s currently £40 GBP for an hour on Skype (£50 in my teaching room face to face). May 2013

  21. Very curious… point 8: “getting the mixture of treble and bass”.. you are referring to chiaroscuro here, are you not? If so, are you one of the pretty few teachers who also believes and teaches in the “real” appoggio technique? If so, I’d love to see you make a video with your views about the subject (producing chiaroscuro sound). 🙂

  22. Alexander Massey

    Yes, I am referring to chiaroscuro. Appoggio was never clearly defined by anyone in pedagogic history. My way of talking about it is to say that appoggio is a) the engaged sensation in the breathing system, b) the stability of the larynx during healthy phonation when sub-glottic and supra-glottic pressure are well balanced, and c) the subtle sensations of sound wave pressure in the mouth when we have a clean resonated sound.

    1. Please sir, I suddenly want to hear you sing a song, as badly as I want to hit a clean G4. Do you have videos of your performance? Cheers.

    2. Alexander Massey

      +Ricky Anthony Maybe I’ll find time to put something up at some point. Not all good singers necessarily have a correct understanding of the theory of vocal technique; nor can they necessarily teach. So a demo of a teacher’s singing is no guarantee that what they teach is correct. You still have to test the usefulness of the teaching through your own experience.

    3. i thank you …. watching your videos online has improved my singing 100% thank you … i am currently soaking in all your other videos.. you are extraordinary to say the least

  23. guys…check out alexander’s channel….whover is interested in SINGING…he is gr8 vocal coach…u yourself will be doing a gr8 favour in taking ur singing to next level 😛

  24. Discipline of breath, I’m realizing, has such a massive impact on singing that worrying about anything else in this early stage of my career is misguided and futile.

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