How to sing from your diaphragm properly: Expanding the Back | Breathing exercises | Singing Lessons

This is an addition to the “how to sing from your diaphragm properly” video. If you had trouble getting your back and sides to expand in the breathing exercises in the previous video, then I break down the solution here.

It will show you how to engage your lower abdominals so that you breathe properly for singing.

(I apologize for the crooked camera angle)


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35 thoughts on “How to sing from your diaphragm properly: Expanding the Back | Breathing exercises | Singing Lessons”

  1. LastDayStudios

    These have to be the best tutorials I’ve seen on YouTube thus far. They are thoroughly informative and readily applicable.

  2. Hey Marnell, I just want to say, this was extremely helpful, I’ve never been able to “breath from the diaphragm”, and i think it’s cause i thought my breath needed to be higher. Opening up my lower torso for air has really helped, and this video in particular. One thing I would like to mention is I was having trouble, so i did some back stretches and that really relaxed my back up and i was able to fill it out like you explained in the video. I think i was just too tensed up to be able to expand properly. Anyways, thanks so much!

  3. giancarlo garcia

    I try to do this but every time my throat gets tight and it’s hard to breathe. I think it’s my solarplexus getting in the way which makes it hard to breathe since it closes my throat please help me. Do you have any solutions or exercises that can help???

  4. Marnell, thanks for incorporating this information about the usage of ab muscles in this video about breathing with diaphragm. I’ve recently finally discovered the “singing with diaphragm” sensation, and this was due to my sudden development of ab muscles/core. I ultimately figured out on my own that the ab muscles need to contract to a certain extent in order to allow expansion, but no video that I’ve watched on youtube regarding singing with the diaphragm talked about this. 

  5. Oh and marnell, I was wondering, do we need to breathe this way even when we’re not singing? I’ve been trying to breathe this way while walking around the park(when exercising or even just during my day-to-day activities) to get used to this feeling. However, it’s really quite difficult to tighten my abs every time I breathe, so what do you suggest? It may seem like a really odd/silly question but … is it necessary to breathe this way even when not singing, or can I just breathe comfortably through the lungs, with my belly coming in and out when breathing this way? 

  6. Im contracting but its making it hard to breathe and I still don’t feel any expansion in my back. Oh well. Maybe it’s because I’ve got an arch. 

  7. Cameron Corcoran

    Marnell! I love your videos. I have a question about the cry. I’ve noticed that when I try to include it in my vocal creation, I am able to remain connected and hit higher notes without losing the “heft” of a chest voice sound, but I feel like my throat is constricting when I try to do this. If I don’t “cry”, i can’t get quite as high, but my throat feels more relaxed. Would the sensation in my throat be due to a new “approach” to singing, and the cords remaining closed?  or am I doing the “cry” wrong? Thank you! – Cameron

  8. This was the best explanation I found, and I’ve been watching many videos about this topic. Thank you, Marnell, I’m so glad I discovered your videos on Youtube. I am looking foward to seeing more! 🙂

  9. Marnell,

      Silly me. I just watched the second video after emailing you a question of what the abs are supposed to be doing when I breathe Now my question is answered. Your explanations are very helpful – shoot! you even gave percentages of how much I should contract the abs. Now, I can at least feel a hint of the back side of the torso expanding. Thanks again.

  10. Hey Marnell, thanks alot for these helpful video’s! I think i’m finally getting a little grasp into the right direction.
    I have one question about the contraction of the abdominal area to make the back area expand more.
    English is not my native language, and while i know with contraction means i don’t really know how it applies to my body.

    Is contracting your stomach/abdominal area comparible to, say like, *holding in your stomach a bit to appear more skinny*, if  this is true, then i think i have felt the sensation of having alot of air pressure.

    With the example you gave with bracing for a punch i tend to tight up by alot, i end up tighting up almost all my chest muscles in the process and i don’t think this is correct.

  11. Hi thanks for the tips this is very helpful and informational, just one question does this way of breathing help to achieve vibrato? Or if you have any tips on achieving it?

  12. Somehow when I try to expand my back I can’t see my upper ab expanding. Is it because I’m unconsciously pulling back my upper ab too? And is the lower back area means right down the last rib and just the sides of the spine? @[email protected]

  13. Marnell Sample

    +Kim Raven The lower back area refers to the entire area from the very last rib all the way down to the top of the pelvis. It’s the area off to the sides of the spine in the general vicinity where the kidneys are at, not directly in the center of the back. (Just had to make that clear.)

    In that lower back area, I also include the sides where people get love handles at, because it feels like this entire area engages together.

    When the lower back expansion happens correctly, it’s something you will FEEL inside of you rather than physically see, per se. The upper abs will not expand much. No more than an inch or so. The smaller you are (like me), then less you will see a physical movement. 

    If you’re concerned that you’re holding the solar plexus (upper ab area) too tight, check to see how your throat feels when applying these ideas. If the throat feels relaxed, then you’re doing it right; if it feels tense, then you’re probably tightening the solar plexus and getting rigid. I cover that more in this video here: 

    Hope this helps! If you need more assistance, don’t hesitate to contact me for a lesson:

  14. Kelly Christie

    Thank you.  You are awesome explaining this.  Been looking awhile now and haven’t heard such a good explanation of the breathing with the diaphram. Thanks again.

  15. Francisco ADJAMAH

    I always have a diffucult to breath with diaphragm especially feel my back expand but, I’ve done it, yes but I would like to know how long should it take to master it very well, and how many times to I practice this per day? do I have to sing along or just breathing? thanks Marnell

  16. Marnell, I have been trying to learn to build the right pressure to sing for a long time. In a 5 min video you just explained that to me. You are really good, thanks brother!!!

    Hugs from Brazil

  17. It does not work! I will NEVER be able to sing from my back. I can make by abdominals and sides expand but my back is impossible 🙁

  18. nice question. I have been singing in a choir for 4 years..(34-39 yo) after that i was troubling with my breathing and got some ache on my you know how I can solve this with just breathing..what’s happening? tnxs

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