I often hear from vocalists, “I cannot do abdominal breathing well. Can you give me some tips on how to improve this?”
I have an effective method on how to be able to do abdominal breathing.
It’s simple, and you can expect to improve your abdominal breathing if you master this method.
First of all, many people think that abdominal is taking a breath in and expanding your belly.
That’s not completely wrong, because air does enter into the lungs through the nose and/or mouth.
However you should imagine taking the air from the ground, widely. When taking a breath in, try to picture pulling the air in from beneath your body.
When you breath out, you should imagine that you are returning the air from your abdominal area to ground.
This method is able to improve the movement of the diaphragm, by using pelvic floor. This is because the diaphragm is supported by the legs of the third lumbar vertebra.
Please try it.
The breath is the driving force for the voice.
Whether your singing is good or not, having a sense of rhythm really matters.
I’ll introduce the mechanics of rhythmic sense and how to train to get a better sense of rhythm.
First, be aware that rhythm is sensed, and delivered through sounds, by the brain and muscles. Production and control of rhythmic sounds rely on the flexibility of muscles, relating to vocalization, and are required for a sense of rhythm. You cannot display through vocalizing, having a good sense of rhythm if you have rigid muscles.
Next, you should listen good sounds and good music. This is because people can precisely understand sounds by the brain when listening to music, and then order their muscles relating to vocalization to let out the same voice or mimic sounds.
The brain correctly moves the muscles to determine the timing of exhalation, expands the resonance chamber and makes the words – in only a moment!
I’ll now introduce effective training techniques for rhythm.
First, tap one leg or hand, and if you need to you can count from one to four. Like a foot tapper keep tapping and optionally repeat the numbers. Take a breath in and out, simultaneously with the tapping.
For example, you take a breath out when your heel touches the floor. You take a breath in when the heel is not touching the floor. Try this training exercise for a couple minutes.
Moving your hand or leg at high and low speeds of tapping, also strengthens those muscles in the hand or leg.
You do not need to let out your voice during this exercise and can choose your favorite music to listen to while you do this training.
When 20 people tried this training technique, 15 people got a better sense of rhythm.
Note:If you acquire a good sense of rhythm after getting flexibility in the muscles surrounding the throat, you will notice it is easier to let out your voice without straining the throat.
If you listen to the singing produced by someone who is tone deaf for an extended period of time, there is a possibility you too will display some slight qualties of that recently heard tone-deafness and/or miscalculate rhythm. This is commonly referred to as the mirror effect. Which is when an individual unconsciously mimics style or qualities of actions, recently seen or heard. Any type of music or sounds you hear and surround yourself with may have a heavy influence in your own sound production.
(For example, your singing is better if you listen to good singing and your singing is worse if you listen to bad singing)
I researched and conducted an experiment to document how the rhythm and tonal qualities in vocalization change in a person who is not tone deaf, before listening to and after listening to an individual sing who is tone-deaf. I measured the range of scale while speaking naturally and vocalizing through singing of the person who is not tone-deaf. Then had them listen to tone-deaf singing, measured again and compared the statistics. These are the following results and changes I concluded, surrounding the phenomenons in the case of post-listening to the singing of an individual who is tone-deaf.
1:The High-pitch sounds are out of pitch
2:Difficulty and struggling to vocalize in the high register
3:The omohyoid muscle became stiff
4:The thyroid cartilage got into a deep position
5:The voice became slightly hoarse
6:The voice flipped into a falsetto
7:The voice displayed new signs of trembling
8:Breathing techniques drastically changed, and it was more difficult to take and hold a long breath
If you are the type of person who is affected easily by someone else`s singing, please be aware of this problem. My studies show that 50%-65% of all people can be unconsciously affected by the mirror effect. This rate will vary based on these factors, the length of time you are presented with tone-deaf sounds and the degree of intensity of the tone-deaf sounds heard.
Note1:No wonder why listening to good music is good for pregnant women in prenatal training. If the fetus only listens to the singing of bad singers or bad music, they may lose or be slow in the comprehesion of rhythm, have lessened ease in learning and/or less of a chance of displaying future musical talents.
Note2:Individuality and style characteristics are not necessary in the early stages of vocaliztion and are acquired after comprehending and producing accurate rhythm and tone. Tone-deafness can improve with through practice, studying and patience throughout the process.
Please listen to a lot of good music and great singers. This will have a positive influence on your singing voice.
If you want to investigate the larynx, please move the larynx by itself gently and palpate it in detail.
The mobility of the vocal cord and the larynx let you know how to much you can move the cricothyroid articulation and the course of a nerve, which vary considerably from person to person.
The following photo is when I was identifying the superior laryngeal artery in Laryngeal Functional Surgery, at the Mayo Clinic in the U.S.A.
The voice is not only to communicate, but it is also a way we as individuals express artistic and musical qualities. Hundreds of millions of varied styles and voices are made by different characteristics. These characteristics we possess within our vocal cords and resonance chambers are all controlled by muscles.
Please understand the characteristics your individual voice has, and focus on making the conditions the best they can be in your throat.
My wish is that people understand, enjoy and gain confidence in letting out their voice.
Plácido Domingo is famous opera singer and is known for his role in the group ‘The Three Tenors.’ The Three Tenors are Plácido Domingo, José Carreras and Luciano Pavarotti.
Plácido Domingo was named, “the King of Opera,” and is one of the most famous tenors of all time. He first studied piano and conducting music before he started his vocal career. His pharyngeal cavity is slightly oversized, which he holds direct and meticulous control over. Throughout the years he has shown extreme care for his throat and dedication to his music career. His voice has an extraordinary smooth rich lower register in his late age, but actually when he started his vocal career he was primarily a baritone. But early on many people suggested to him that his put his focus into singing tenor, because that’s what his voice seemed suited for. Although, he has proved throughout his career that his range is wide which allows him to go from one style to another. He has currently accepted roles singing both tenor and baritone. Plácido Domingo shows that quality and control of the voice hold a high value, and that is what vocalists genuinely strive to achieve.
Below shows a visual comparison of the condition of the throat between when he is not singing(A) and when he is singing (B)
Note: His throat is expanding over the collar when he is singing. His amazing voice is produced in the pharyngeal cavity.
I sometimes hear that, “heavy people are better at singing,” which is a stereotype. It’s not true that they are good at singing because they are heavier. Although it is true that heavyset people are noticeably good at singing, because they have a larger resonance chamber thus being more able to let out a stronger and louder voice.
The pharyngeal cavity is the most important resonance chamber in the body, and is located in the root of the neck.
The resonance chamber can be compared to the sound hole of an acoustic guitar, and needs enough space to make a good sound.
If the neck gets bigger, it will have a comparably larger and louder sound.
I have tested this theory before by surveying a group of 4 different groups of people with the following physical attributes, and will now discuss my findings.
1:Heavy people that have a thick neck.
2:Heavy people that have a thin neck.
3:Skinny people who have a thick neck.
4:Skinny people who have a thin neck.
After I heard their voices, I personally felt the best voices had the physical attributes of skinny people that had thick necks and the heavy people who possessed thin necks.
There is a scientific reason why not all heavy people have a good voice … I believe this is in connection to the thickness of the subcutaneous fat between the top of the hyoid bone and the laryngeal prominence. Because, when I measured the necks of the singers and compared statistics, I figured out that less thickness made the voice more resonant and more thickness made the voice less resonant.
Therefore, the thickness of the neck is actually relevant to voice, but subcutaneous fat is not a factor in its resonance quality.
Regardless of the body type, when the neck looks thick because of the thyroid cartilage and the hyoid bone are big this just means that they have flexibility around those muscles.
The size of the thyroid cartilage is proportional to the size of the neck, and if the thyroid cartilage is big, the neck looks big as well.
This information does not just apply only to heavy people, but many light people too also have big thyroid cartilage. The resonance chamber is controlled by muscles and soft tissues.
The conditions that need to be met to be able to make the resonance bigger, are flexibility of the middle constrictor and movement of the stylohyoid muscle.
I am researching now to confirm whether the downside of the hyoid bone attaches to the middle constrictor or not, and then I will focus on analyzing the movements of the stylohyoid muscle.
The stylohyoid ligament is sometimes fused to the stylohyoid muscle, and obstructs the stylohyoid ligament from being able to move freely.
If an individual can make the space bigger in the resonance chamber, then their ability in resonance sound and control would be positively effected – so keep doing vocal muscle exercises and you can get a great singing voice!
This is the stylohyoid ligament and the stylohyoid muscle.
This is the stylohyoid ligament and the relaxing stylohyoid muscle.
Note1:The people has a thin neck and a big thyroid cartilage whose muscles might be rigid because have to use neck muscles so hard to let out the voice. But if you get flexibility of muscle in the larynx,you can get great voice.
Note2:Do you know which woman produces a stronger louder voice in the above figure?
The answer is the woman on the right, because
the right woman has a thicker neck and a bigger resonance chamber.
There are two kind of tone deafness, which are input & output tone deafness.
Input tone deafness is when an individual cannot identify details about pitch or rhythm through hearing. Meanwhile, output tone deafness is when an individual cannot recognize the same or similar sounds through hearing.
There are 4 types of sound:
I’ve described each issue in detail as follows.
i: The problem of cricothyroid articulation.
ii: The defective adjustment of the cricothyroid muscle.
iii: The vocal cord muscles and the mucosa do not move properly.
iv: Dehydration in the larynx.
v: Disease surrounding the vocal cords.
i: The musculus extrinsic laryngis is permanently decreased in movement.
ii: Lack of practicing singing.
iii: Disorder or condition relating to the brain or muscle group.
i: The malfunction of the resonance chamber.
ii: Muscles relating to breathing which in turn cause decreased on obsolete actions.
iii: Disease of the vagus nerve.
i: Defective movement of the diaphragm.
ii: Abnormal hardening of the costovertebral joint.
iii: The defective action of the tongue.
When physical qualities, mental attributions, and skilled or learned techniquesall come together at the same time perfectly, your voice can become great.
If you think, You are not good at singing or are afraid of singing a song, you need to investigate what causes that problem exactly.
1:Physical…Hardening of the muscles or joints relating to vocalization.
2:Technique…Problem or insecurity with the skill of singing.
3:Mental…Stage fright …e.g.
Please consult with a vocal coach or my clinic about these kinds of issue. Getting help to overcome these issues is possible!
First, it is helpful to you and your advisor if you know what the condition and status of your throat and voice are.