The Need for Breathing!

6 05 2011

You might think that breathing would just be natural when you lead singing. However, the stress of leading singing can take your breath away.

Stress can hamper even sympathetic muscles. It’s true when we are nervous or under great stress we breath more shallow. The activity involved in leading singing can also steal our breath.

Solution, breathing deeply! Sounds stupid doesn’t. Before you take the podium take several deep breaths and exhale completely so you can take in more air. Taking in more oxygen helps calm your nerves and gives you the needed support for the activity of leading worship.

During the week you should do some simple deep breathing exercises.

  • Begin by exhaling as much air as possible.
  • Inhale deeply (Remember deep breathing involves those stomach, back and side muscles).
  • Now exhale in short pants. (Like a dog, not the Bermuda type).  This will engage those big muscles that control breathing.
  • Do this a dozen times.
  • Next inhale deeply and exhale making a an “S” sound.  Continue this until all your air is gone.
  • This “S” exhale will help build stamina, the “S” sound will put no strain on your voice.
  • You can do this exercise making a “Z” sound which engages the voice too, don’t strain or push though.

If you will do this routine a few times a day for a few weeks it will certainly help you build the ability to breath deeply.  That in turn will help you when it comes time to lead singing.

Lack of deep breathing and breath control is one of the causes of vocal fatigue and voice strain.  You don’t want that ever.

So in the words of Faith Hill “Just Breathe”.

What helps you remember to breathe during worship leading or singing?  I’d love to hear your helpful hints.  Comment here or drop me a note chasejoseph(a)

Joseph D. Chase
Gospel Preacher
1000 N. Loop 485
PO Box 667
Gladewater, TX 75647
(903) 845.2531 office

The Stabilized Larynx

29 12 2009

The title of this post sounds like a B Movie at the local Drive-in.  But it isn’t anything like that.  It is a description of what needs to happen for singers to sing without strain and without forcing air and use of the swallowing muscles in singing.

Anyone familiar with Seth Riggs Speech Level Singing? I’ve studied a lot of his information, this is quite similar to what Brett Manning teaches. They strive for a “stabilized laryngx”. This really is hard to explain. Basically they are trying to teach singers to disengage the swallowing muscles while singing. For those of us who are belt singers this is perhaps the hardest habit to learn. I’ve always poured on more power to go higher. This has led me to some vocal problems now that I am in my mid 40’s.

If you can purchase a copy of Dr. Stephen Smith’s book “The Naked Voice” you will see what all the weird lessons and exercises do to disengage the swallowing anatomy and stabilize the larynx. Seth Riggs system is cheaper than Brett Manning but Brett is easier to understand. The Naked Voice can be purchased on

Many of the exercises will seem to be useless and make no sense at all. However, they are specifically designed to engage proper singing muscles while eliminating muscles that can cause damage to the vocal anatomy if used for singing.  Brett Manning’s Singing Success costs $200.00.  It has 12 CDs and a DVD with workbook.  The lessons are easy to follow and engaging enough to maintain your interest.  He makes a claim that you can increase your vocal compass by a full octave.  I’ve used the system  for over a year and still haven’t increased my upper range.  I have increased stamina in singing.

Seth Riggs sells his “Speech Level Singing” lessons in a new format.  It borrows from the popular American Idol fame. The product is actually called Singer’s Advantage and is packaged with the American Idol logo on the package.  It has 4 CDs and a DVD with workbook.  Seth will take you through an introductory lesson that identifies your weaknesses and from that identification tells you which of the lessons to use to improve.  The exercises are almost identical to Brett Mannings method.  I’ve seen the Singers Advantage for as little as $25.00 at Hastings and online at Amazon.

I can’t say that you will become a famous singer if you use either of these products but you will learn some important lessons on how to preserve your voice for many long years.  If you do the lessons you will begin to end bad habits of trying to muscle through your singing.  You will also improve your accuracy in pitch.  Singing the scales and arpeggios are great for warming up before you have to sing or lead singing.

Let me suggest that you put the lessons you need to use on your mp3 player so you will have them with  you.  You can practice your lessons in the car or during your lunch break.  Don’t think that you can use these for a few days and you’re done.  You will need to use them consistently and come back to them over and over to keep from falling back into bad singing habits.