Why Do I Run Out of Breath When I Sing?
HOW ARE YOU BREATHING?
Breathing when singing is very different to the way we breathe day-to-day. We usually take very shallow breaths into the chest which doesn't allow us to inhale very deeply.
The first step to help you change this is to focus on breathing deeply into your ribs, lowering the breath so that your shoulders don't rise. Your ribs should expand when you breathe in and release slowly as you control your exhale.
This will feel quite foreign to beginners as we typically expand into our chest when we inhale and this breathing technique is the opposite. People who have practised yoga will often pick it up faster as it is similar to what they currently practice (although we don't push the stomach out).
ARE YOU USING TOO MUCH AIR?
Something else to consider is that you might be using too much air. This sounds ludicrous because you're reading this post because you feel as though you don't have enough breath, but stay with me for a moment.
We only need a little air moving through the vocal cords to create sound and many starting singers push too much through at any one time. Experiment with blowing most the air out of your lungs, taking a tiny sip of air in and singing a note gently. You may be quite surprised with how little air is needed to hold a note.
If you take in a huge breath and inflate to 100% capacity, it feels quite uncomfortable to hold. We want to leak out the air very slowly (to control the air flow and keep the sound consistent) and this becomes much harder if you're having to hold back what feels like tonnes of air.
I often see students "over-singing" and making it much harder work than it needs to be, so try to go easy on how much air you gulp in to start off with.
Most contemporary songs allow enough breaks between lines or phrases for us to "top up the tank," so start with about 50% of your lung capacity and see how it feels. You can always add more for longer lines or if you feel that you can't make it to the end.
Would you like to see this in action (including other video tutorials on helping you sound better if you're just starting to learn singing)?
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