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Breath is Everything

Updated: Aug 19, 2023

As a singer, having control of your breath means having control of your voice. This concept is called "breath control" or "breath management", and it is the holy grail of the vocal world - sought after by many, but can be frustratingly elusive.

What do we mean by "breath control"? In very simple terms, we are talking about the ability to take a full inhalation in a short space of time, then have the skill to make the exhalation (i.e. the sung phrase) many times longer whilst remaining steady. In addition, we need to deliver text, emotion, a variety of dynamics (how loud and how quiet we can sing) and maintain a pleasing vibrato (natural "spin", which sometimes may tip over into a "wobble" 😅). All of this is called "breath management", and whilst it sounds like a reasonably simple concept, for many (most!) singers, it is rather like hens' teeth.

In this series of articles, I'll share my strategies for achieving reliable breath management. Once you have achieved this goal, your singing will effortlessly soar to a whole new level. But be warned - whilst this should be every singer's goal, many simply don't spend enough time digging and concreting this vital foundation.

For now, start by "watching" your breath. Check in several times a day with your breathing, and just be an observer - what happens in your body when you breathe (which bits move, and where do they go?), what happens in your nose and mouth? What is your tongue doing? Are your teeth clamped shut? How do all these things change depending on your mood, or how tired you are? Or whether you're standing, sitting or lying down? How did you feel before you began observing your breath, and did you feel any different after a few minutes of observation?

Jot down some notes to remind yourself what you noticed. I have a lot more content to follow, and you can check out my YouTube channel - Lois Johnston Singing Tips - for practical technical videos and step-by- step song tutorials.

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