How To Sing From Your Diaphragm: 3 Solid Singing Tips

how to sing from your diaphragm

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One crucial aspect of singing that often perplexes aspiring vocalists is the concept of singing from the diaphragm. There is a vast supply of breathing exercises online, but take it from a lifetime of singing and teaching- the application of free singing videos can actually hurt your singing technique if you don’t understand some foundational elements of the voice and anatomy.

Singing “with support” is not just about deep breaths or remembering to inhale deeply: When you sing properly, the function of diaphragmatic breathing as a wholistic act of relaxation and proper muscle engagement is so deeply memorized by your body that you don’t even have to think about it! In this article, we will delve into the meaning behind singing from your diaphragm, how this vital muscle functions during singing, and three simple tips to help you improve your vocal technique.

So lets get into it and learn how to sing from. your diaphragm!

How To Sing From Your Diaphragm

What Does it mean to sing from your diaphragm?

Diaphragmatic Singing As Anatomical Function

The phrase “sing from your diaphragm” is a common directive in vocal coaching, but what does it actually entail? The diaphragm is a large, dome-shaped muscle located beneath the lungs. Singing from the diaphragm means utilizing this muscle to control the release of air while singing, resulting in better breath support, resonance, and overall vocal control.

It can be very useful to understand that the diaphragm actually sits below the lungs. So when you think of expanding your body on the inhalations, know that your back and ribs all need to have malleability to move and make space for the air and diaphragm. More air does not necessarily automatically make your body expand in the right places; many people find their stomach moving but cannot sense their back and ribs moving. When you sing, start to know that the act “to sing” could also be interpreted as, “to expand.”

If you take away one thing from this article, let it be that you make peace with this fact: It is extremely important to work on your posture, alignment, and body awareness in order to sing properly- and this can take considerable time depending on your current habits and natural abilities.

How A Vocal Coach May Explain What It Means To Breathe Correctly

True deep breathing as it is used by singers is about more than contracting your abdominal muscles like when you’re at the gym, and it requires more than in depth anatomical awareness. Actually, many great singers are not experts in anatomy! Beyond its physiological implications, singing from the diaphragm is often described by experienced vocalists as a sensation of harnessing power and control.

It involves a conscious effort to engage the diaphragm to regulate the airflow, an action that requires practice not just for muscle memory, but to strengthen the ability of the diaphragm to assist in long phrases and supporting high and low notes. The concept of a “shallow breath” also changes in the eyes of a professional singer.

When we refer to shallow breaths, we mean a breath that is created with tension, usually limited to the stomach area and lifting of the thoracic cavity and shoulders, and requiring tension to control on the exhale. In fact, a deep breath could actually be called a shallow breath when done incorrectly, with the added issue of “tanking up” which demands your transverse thoracis muscle to act on the exhale as it does in forced exhalation such as when we cough.

How The Diaphragm Muscles Allow Resonance

Singing with proper singing technique means singing with diaphragmatic breathing. This technique allows sound waves to reverberate through the chest cavity, creating a warm and well-projected vocal quality. The reason for this is that the diaphragm acts as a dynamic amplifier, relieving the body’s many unnecessary muscles from needing to support the sound, consequently enabling them to relax and transforming the body -upper chest, vocal folds, throat, face- into a space capable of reverberation. Resonance is the product of sound waves bouncing around these “relaxed spaces” and finding amplification much like when you take your cell phone and drop it in a bowl or cup to get your music to sound louder.

In essence, the directive to sing from the diaphragm encapsulates a fusion of physical awareness and artistic mastery. It is not merely about understanding the anatomy of stomach muscles and the diaphragm but also about connecting with the source of vocal power within oneself. Singers often describe this connection as a grounding force that enables them to tap into the full potential of their voice, creating a transformative and immersive experience for both the performer and the audience. It feels powerful and is worth the work to develop your lungs and support!

rachel singing

How Does the Diaphragm Work During Singing?

Understanding the mechanics of air movement in the diaphragm is essential for any aspiring vocalist. When you inhale, the diaphragm contracts, creating space for the lungs to expand. As you exhale, the diaphragm relaxes, helping to expel air from the lungs. Controlling this process consciously allows singers to manage their breath effectively, enhancing the quality and power of their vocal delivery.

Achieving mastery over diaphragmatic control involves a comprehensive understanding of interconnected muscle groups. More control of the diaphragm can be achieved when an aspiring singer understands the role of the back, chest, rib cage, stomach, shoulders, and abdominal muscles. The back muscles, especially the lower back, provide stability and support for the diaphragm’s upward movement. Singers should focus on allowing the back to relax and the stomach expand, on the inhale, and maintaining this expansion on the exhale.

While inhaling, the chest muscles facilitates expansive breath intake, but many beginner singers will mistake breathing into the chest space as correct inhalation. In fact, your chest should never lift dramatically- the expansion needed for space for your air should be felt in the back and through the lower ribs, with the last expansion point being the upper chest.

The rib cage, acting as a protective enclosure, expands with the diaphragm during inhalation and learning to connect with this part of your body takes practice. Laying on the ground lie flat on your back may help to start recognizing when you lower ribs- sides and back of the ribs- are moving in expansion to make room for air.

The Abdominal muscles, including the rectus abdominis and obliques, stabilize the diaphragm during exhalation, ensuring controlled airflow. This is why many people say they feel their abs really active during singing.

Relaxing the shoulder muscles prevents tension that may impede the diaphragm’s natural movement. Strengthening the transverse abdominis supports sustained breath release, preventing rapid diaphragm collapse. In layman’s terms- watch yourself in the mirror and if you notice your shoulders moving drastically up and down on your breaths, you have a lot of upper body tension impeding your breathing.

This is a lot to process, so you may want to consider voice lessons with a trained vocal coach to help you start to become a master of body awareness and vocal performance.

Basics of The Singing Voice To Know

Before delving into the specifics of singing from the diaphragm, it’s crucial to grasp some fundamental aspects of vocal technique:

Find the correct posture

Maintain an upright posture to allow for unrestricted breathing and optimal vocal projection. Use a mirror to start watching how your body moves when you breathe. For beginners, we recommend trying breathing while lying on your back with your shoulders relaxed, knees bent and feet on the ground. This allows you to feel the movement of your back and ribs better while minimizing the movement of the shoulders.

Keep your throat open when singing

Tension in the throat can impede the flow of sound. Keep your throat relaxed and open for a smoother vocal delivery. Of course, this is easier said than done since once we develop tension, it is incredibly stubborn to get rid of. A vocal coach can work with you on relaxing undue tension and put you on track to becoming a better singer.

basics of singing to know

3 Tips on Singing From Your Diaphragm

Now, let’s explore three practical tips to help you sing from your diaphragm!

1. Strengthening Your Diaphragm for Better Breathing

Engage in exercises that specifically target the the diaphragm muscle. Deep belly breathing, yoga, and diaphragmatic breathing exercises can help strengthen this muscle, leading to improved breath control while singing. The truth is, this is a muscle: You will need to start paying attention to how you breathe throughout the day and actively putting time aside to work on taking deep breaths and controlling the exhalation.

Whether you choose yoga, meditation, or guided youtube practices, here is a hot tip: On your exhale, focus on pushing down through the pelvic floor to control the speed of your exhale. You know that feeling of pushing you have when giving birth your- excuse our language- have a really stubborn poop to push out? Those are your pelvic floor muscles, your Psoas, and your abdominals and back all engaged, and the sensation mirrors what it feels like to control air pressure and supply on the exhale.

2. Begin to expand your lung capacity

Enhance your lung capacity by practicing controlled deep breaths. Inhale deeply, expanding your lungs to their fullest, and exhale slowly. This helps increase the amount of air you can hold, providing a solid foundation for powerful singing.

Keep in mind our previous tip on the exhale, and trip this:

Inhale for 4, exhale for 4

Inhale for 5, exhale for 5

Inhale for 6, exhale for 6

Continue this until the length of time is not attainable and start your singing practice each day with this exercise.

3. Incorporate lip trills with your breathing exercises

Lip trills involve blowing air through slightly pursed lips, creating a vibrating sound. This exercise not only aids in breath control but also helps you connect with your diaphragm. Practice lip trills while moving through different vocal exercises to integrate lip trill and diaphragmatic engagement into your singing.

Make sure that you do not tense your jaw in order to create the trill. This exercise is great, but also very commonly difficult for beginner singers. Try to be super patient and invite the trill to start, but don’t tense your face or jaw in order to achieve it. Keep exhaling and relaxing your lips, mouth and jaw. Eventually the buzzing and trill will come naturally.

How to Sing from the Diaphragm – Basics to Remember

Know what muscles to activate

Consciously engage the diaphragm by focusing on the sensation of breath originating from the lower abdomen. This ensures that you are using the diaphragm effectively to control airflow.

Watch for expansion in your back and ribs. Ask a singing teacher to help you when you first start singing.

Sing Long, Sing Strong.

Extend your vocal phrases to encourage sustained, diaphragmatic breath engagement. Singing longer phrases challenges your breath control and strengthens the diaphragm over time. Try singing phrases from songs you are working on with just vowels or on lip trills so that you can focus on the breath and not have the words and their many consonants getting in the way. It can be just too much to focus on at one time when you are trying to improve correct breathing.

Work your diaphragm properly

Are You Ready to Improve Your Breath Support?

Mastering the art of singing from the diaphragm is an ongoing process that requires practice and dedication.

Consistent incorporation of these tips into your vocal routine will contribute to enhanced breath support, resonance, and overall vocal performance.

Want to Learn More Vocal Cords?

Understanding the intricacies of vocal cords is another crucial aspect of honing your singing skills. Many singers don’t even think about how to care for their vocal cords until there is a problem!

Practice singing with a qualified teacher and have them create a practice regimen for you so that you can track your progress and vocal exercises. We recommend a journal designed for singers so you an track the growth of your vocal range, the work you do with your singing teacher, and specific work you are doing for technique and application of those techniques to your songs!

Want More Vocal Exercises?

Make sure to check out our Tiktok and Instagram where we post free content from artists on our roster. The best answer will always come from someone who has been through it!

Also check out The Singer’s Tension Podcast for more free content on the music industry!

Who Can Teach Me To Sing In Toronto?

Toronto vocal coaches

If you are like most people and notice you have some bad habits, tension, or issues with rhythm or pitch, you are not just looking for a great singer. You need to find the best vocal coach in Toronto. Finding the best vocal coach in Toronto or Toronto training programs for singers can be overwhelming. We know that and hear it all the time from our students.

We have put together this list to help you identify: What skills and experience make the best vocal coach in Toronto? If you don’t feel like reading, Call us and we can connect you with voice lessons based on your specific goals.

Voice Training With Professional Singers

Perhaps the most obvious qualification is that your vocal teacher not only sounds good, but is actively involved in the industry. You will learn from their proven ability to perform regularly without vocal fatigue. You will understand how to deliver captivating performances on stage, hit high notes, and book roles in your industry. 

Unlike conventional music schools, Express Voice Studio only hires voice teachers who are consistently booking gigs in their industry. We ensure you work with good singers that know how to “make it” as a performer.

Start Singing With Your Body

If you are new to the arts world, this may be your first time hearing about Body mapping, Alexander Technique, Linklater, or Feldenkrais training. Commonly used by actors, singers, and movement based art forms, these somatic body practices build on the connection between your brain and body.

Maybe you have heard that breathing should happen from your stomach: Breathing is actually a full body coordination that often cannot be corrected with a simple direction like, “sing from your stomach.” Having a teacher who is able to undo tensions in your body, build new coordinations essential for singing, and empower you with the skills to continue this self development work on your own is a critical qualification for a vocal coach.

We believe in the importance of this skill so much, that all of the vocal coaches at Express Voice Studio have experience in at least one somatic body movement practice. Express also offers focused lessons in Alexander Technique and Body Mapping for students requiring more intensive bodywork to improve their sound.

Vocal Lessons Tailored to You

You might think all voice teachers can show you how to practice singing, but if it were as simple as doing a few universal exercises everyday, then everyone would sound like Beyonce. When asking yourself, “how can I learn to sing better?” Try to remember that the best voice teacher for you will be able to tailor their teaching style to you.

This is the exact reason why generic Youtube video singing lessons don’t work.

A vocal coach will build unique vocal exercises for you after determining your vocal range, health of your vocal cords, identifying any tensions impacting your ability to sing a song well, and your capacity to learn musical rhythm and match tone. If you and your best friend both took voice lessons you should not be doing the same practice routine as your friend, since your body and limitations are very different from theirs!

Unfortunately, many music lessons are given by teachers who do not have the versatility as a teacher to create individualized programs for their students.

Look for a Teacher with Previous Vocal Problems

So this point probably sounds crazy. I mean, why would you want a tone deaf singing teacher? Of course we would never recommend you work with a voice teacher who is tone deaf!

Think of it this way, If your vocal coach used to have problems hitting high notes with power and now sounds like a rockstar, they must have figured out how to do it! Unlike singers who are born with abilities, those who have had to learn from scratch have added value as teachers. 

Firstly, they know what to listen for in your voice to see if you are improving. When you get better at singing, it is not a linear process. You want a teacher who knows what red flags to look for. You need a teacher and who can point out when something you are doing is moving you down the path of improvement. 

Additionally, they will be able to offer you numerous ways to improve! You will not need to rely on metaphors about sensation. These teachers can give you a concrete singing technique training program because they know exactly what to do to build a new skill in someone’s body.

Never Rush Your Music

Our last piece of advice in choosing a singing teacher in Toronto is one based on patience- a quality every great vocal coach needs. You- the student- must also practice it. Give yourself time for songs to get into your body. 

You may have all the best techniques for practical singing, but don’t underestimate the power of letting music settle into your body and soul. You’ll be surprised how much more natural you sound after a couple of weeks just from repetition and familiarity.

Record yourself singing and decide what you like aesthetically about the choices you are making.Try playing around until you have solidified the sounds you want and are happy with how you are evoking the meaning of the song.

You can’t rush this process, it just takes as long as it takes. But you’ll know it’s happened when suddenly it feels way easier to sing than it ever has before. When you feel ready, book a session at a recording studio to lay down your track.


Curious how to sing and perform when sick? 

Review of the 5 Best Singing Teachers in Toronto

Express Voice Studio | Singing Lessons

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When looking for singing teachers in Toronto, the choices can be overwhelming. There are singing teachers everywhere in the city, each selling themself by claiming to be the best vocal coach for opera, or the top singing teacher for musical theater.

How do you find the best vocal coach in Toronto training programs?

We have put together a review of the top 5 singing teachers in Toronto based on what their niche is. Who excels at coaching pop singers? What singing teacher is an expert at working with gender diverse voices? Keep reading to find the right voice teacher in Toronto for you. 

What Makes A Great Singing Teacher

In our analysis of what makes a great singing teacher, we consider a few qualifications. Too often we have seen aspiring singers work with a teacher that wasn’t the right fit for them, and their voice and career suffered because of it. Not all amazing singers make good teachers! Our overall advice to finding a great vocal coach is to try out a couple and see who connects with you and the way you understand your body and voice.

Hopefully your teachers will understand that singing is a journey, and they shouldn’t take it personally if you decide to leave to work with someone else. Here are some qualities to look for in your potential vocal coach, whether you are a beginner singer or professional singer looking for vocal coaching.


Do good singers make good voice teachers?

Keep in mind that some people were just born with a natural ability to sing. From a teaching perspective, it is difficult to teach someone how to sing if you never actually had to figure it out yourself! Teachers who were born with the ability to sing are limited to explaining to their students what it feels like in their body: they have not had to overcome tensions, bad technique, and vocal issues and thus they really don’t know how to coach you on overcoming those same problems. 

Look For: 
A teacher who has had previous vocal health issues or vocal technique challenges which they have overcome, and thus understand how to coach others through the same challenges.


Why Your Singing Teacher Should be A Performer

Part of what we look for in a coach is their experience in the field we want to be in. If they are an active performer, it means they are likely known within the industry and have connections. Business is about who you know, and the arts are no different. You want a singing teacher that is a full time artist because they know the people you will need to know to get roles, opportunities, and stage time.

Building your network as a singer is critical.

Your teacher is also demonstrating that they have the chops to do what you want to do! Your teacher should be able to demonstrate the techniques they are talking about. If you need to work on stamina- your teacher should also be capable of answering the question, How do you sing on stage without losing your voice?

Look For: 
Success acquiring roles, gigs, and singing opportunities in their field.
Active participant in the scene you want to be a part of: Connections in your industry.


Singers Need Alexander Technique Training

We would actually expand that statement to say that singers need one of the following body awareness studies: Body mapping. Alexander Technique, Linklater, or Feldenkrais training. Each of these somatic body movement practices connect the singer with a deep understanding of how to coordinate their body, retrain incorrect coordinations, and release tension.

Never heard the word somatic before? It refers to the connection between your mind and body.

Most singers do not have perfect technique, and depending on the issues they have, they may or may not be risking losing their voice, damaging their vocal chords, or singing in pain. When your teacher has experience in Alexander Technique or another somatic practice, they can help your body stop subconsciously using muscles that are not only not necessary for beautiful singing, but are actually preventing you from singing better!

Great side effects include no more neck pain, better breath control, more vocal power, and being able to practice singing in a way that is not frustrating!

Look For: 
A voice coach with training in body coordination or somatic practices.

top 5 singing teachers in Toronto

In our review of the 5 best singing teachers in Toronto, Tylor comes in as one of the most well rounded. Tylor has received awards for classical voice, worked and studied Musical Theatre career path, studied acting at Guildford School of Acting. He offers singing lessons for adults in Toronto, working with singers of all skill levels in Pop, Jazz, and Musical Theatre.

With technique experience from Estill to Alexander Technique, Tylor checks our boxes on needing somatic body awareness training and he is one of the few vocal coaches in North America to incorporate techniques found in the Laryngeal Conditioning System, which aims at freeing the voice through balancing acoustics & power, dealing with issues in registration, and allowing singers to produce a healthy mixed belt.

Explore More Cabbagetown Singing Teachers

If you live in Toronto, consider yourself lucky to be able to work in person with Toronto pop singing teacher Jenn Connor. In 2022, ReverbNation named Jenn one of Canada’s top independent pop recording artists, and Toronto’s number one artist! Vocally, Jenn is classically trained, specializing in Bel Canto over the past 13 years. 

Jenn has worked with renowned producers including Los Angeles-based Tomas Costanza (Boys Like Girls) as well as award-winning producers Douglas Romanow (Justin Bieber) and Rob Wells (Ariana Grande). 

Jenn teaches vocals, beginner and advanced piano (classical and pop/jazz), and helps students prepare for RCM examinations, auditions, and performances. Her experience in the recording studio makes her an ideal voice teacher in Toronto for any parents looking for a singing teacher for kids in pop music.

Explore More Online Singing Lessons


Another voice teacher who can seemingly do it all is Robert Popoli. Robert is a voice and piano instructor, composer, and performer based in Toronto. Work on musical theatre, pop, opera, and rock with Rob or take advantage of his incredible skills as a composer to learn how to write songs.

Rob can teach students how to accompany themselves while singing, and develop their sense of creativity for songwriting. In addition to one-on-one lessons, Robert occasionally offers masterclasses where students can perform for each other and receive feedback from their peers via live performances. 

We recommend working with Robert if you are a more advanced singer wanting to increase your vocal range, sing with more power, learn musical theory and song writing or just ensure you are not singing in a way that is harmful to your voice. Learn to sing with a teacher who is highly trained like Rob and building confidence as a performer is only a matter of lessons. 

Explore More Midtown Singing Teachers

Katrina Anastasia, a 24-year-old multidisciplinary artist and entrepreneur hailing from Toronto, Canada, is a sonic architect whose musical palette weaves alternative new wave tones with hints of RnB, dream pop, acoustic, nu-disco, folk, and more. Her smooth and alluring sound is a testament to her ongoing exploration of dynamic ranges, resulting in ethereal layered vocals that seamlessly complement her intimate lyricism, providing a captivating experience for her listeners.

Katrina offers lessons in songwriting, inviting aspiring artists to explore various styles and glean insights from her creative process. Additionally, she imparts the secrets of live performance, teaching techniques to keep an audience engaged, master the art of audience interaction, and discover one’s unique stage presence.

For those eager to enhance their recording skills, Katrina provides lessons in microphone and recording studio techniques. Students can learn to confidently work with microphones, ensuring their self-recordings and studio sessions capture the desired sound. Moreover, Katrina offers guitar lessons, with a focus on basics tailored for beginners or singers looking to delve into songwriting and guitar playing.

Her rates for lessons are $115 per hour for songwriting and live performance techniques, and $100 per hour for microphone and recording studio techniques, as well as guitar basics. Join Katrina Anastasia on a journey of artistic discovery and mastery.

Explore East York Singing Teachers

If you thought belting was only used in Musical Theatre, think again! Belting is the style of singing used in r&b, pop, & jazz when the singer gives you that moment of insane power where your jaw drops and you start to think, God I wish I could do that! Toronto vocal coach for belting Nika Samandas is a master at this genre.

So, though we have named her the best Toronto Midtown vocal coach, she is in fact ideal for anyone looking to belt and sing jazz, rnb, or pop as well. Your singing voice is a muscle and like having a trainer at the gym, having Nika on your team for voice training will work you out!

Explore More Music Lessons Near Me

How To Sing Better in Toronto

There is no other music school in Toronto solely dedicated to the voice. Express Voice Studio only hires full time artists who are active and successful in their field so that you get the best voice teachers in Toronto.

You may have been feeling overwhelmed by the idea of starting vocal lessons before. You may have stage fright and worry about feeling confident. Our teachers can work with you to build confidence and make you excited by the opportunities that await you!

Each of these teachers uses their teaching styles to craft a personalized voice routine for students. How can you learn to sing better in Toronto? Pick a coach, work hard, and know that each of these options for singing teachers will not lead you astray.

Become part of an elite music academy and work with one of the top 5 voice teachers we highly recommend in Toronto!

The Best Gifts For Singers

What do you buy a singer in Toronto?

Express Voice Studio Services

Home to rising stars so you can learn from the best.

Why Do I Gasp When I Sing?

Why Do I Gasp When I Sing?

Your breath is the foundation of a beautiful sound. How often do you notice yourself hearing your friends breathe? Unless you both have just completed an hour of Cross-Fit, probably not very often. Why then, do some singers make an audible gasp when taking in breath to sing?

The sound of someone gasping is defined as, “the strain to take a deep breath.” To put the complexity of your body mechanisms attempting to function together simply: You are fighting yourself! One of the most obvious- and loudest- ways to check if your breathing is… messed up… is to record yourself and see if you gasp between phrases for air. Sorry to say guys, this absolutely needs to be addressed.

Because a gasp is the result of tension in your body, the solution is to release this tension.

Simple enough.

However, your body considers these tensions essential to existence; without habitual tensions, your body believes it cannot produce the action you are demanding of it: standing, walking, sitting down, and of course, singing. For this reason, stopping yourself from gasping is not a matter of merely telling yourself not to do it. Rather, you must use Alexander Technique and personalized vocal exercises to change the way your body supports itself while strengthening intercostal muscles (also called the singer’s support).

Now you ask me:

But, isn’t it enough to just practice singing and it will go away on its own?

I wish I could tell you yes! But, I also would by lying if I said definitively no!

And herein lies the frustrating truth about singing: No two bodies are the same, no two singing journeys are the same, and the speed at which you and Bob beside you progress are highly dependent on the extremity of your natural habits and whether your teacher understands exactly what your body needs. Let’s look at Bob first.

A Singing Case Study: Bob v. You

Bob has some nasty habits: His posture involves pulling his neck forward and down while his shoulders slump forward, and back curves over. As a result, his voice is compressed and his throat must work extra hard to create sound- this is why Bob finds it difficult to talk for extended lengths of time and gasps when he takes a quick breath. Bob is going to have to change his posture entirely if he hopes to sing without pain and use his voice in a healthy way. Bob understands that he cannot use strength of will to force a good sound out of a twisted instrument and so goes to work with an Alexander Technique teacher for 8 weeks. He spends time learning how to change his relationship with his body so that when he goes to sing, he can ask of it what he needs to support and play with sound.

Now lets maybe look at you? You are commended often on your posture, you exhume a regal air and are known for being able to project across large halls. It seems that all you need to work on is loosening some tension in your chest (likely established from holding that posture without an awareness of the space that should exist within your sternum and back even when standing straight!) But luckily, you are not nearly as twisted as Bob. You take singing lessons focused solely on scales, trills, and sighs without any specific body work or Alexander Technique, but your teacher mentions you are a bit stiff and should try yoga. A few months later, you are a better singer with less tension and have achieved the goals you set out to: This is a possible outcome! Alas, the story could easily go the other way, where the absence of body work has actually made you even tighter, and now you have lost your ability to project across large halls.

Bob, who incorporated both body work and vocal exercises into his learning, now has a job as a voice over artist for Disney.

So, What Should You do To Ensure You Improve And Stop Gasping?

Don’t leave anything to luck. Treat your body like a cellist treats his cello- keep it in top condition and watch for any broken strings. Work with a voice teacher who has training in Alexander Technique or another form of body work or complement your training with your current voice teacher by doing sessions with an Alexander Technician.

When you go into the practice room, go in as a detective. Spend time just breathing and preparing to sing- before you make sound, see where in your body you feel tight. Make notes and take this to your teacher. Lessons and practice times should be exploratory. No one is inside your body but you, and if you try to improve as a singer by simply repeating the same act over and over again, you are neglecting the most obvious and yet forgotten fact:

Your body is your instrument.

Be like Bob.

Does stretching help with singing

Does stretching help with singing

Stretching Cannot Help Your Voice

We are about to bust open one of the trendiest fitness routines of our generation and answer the question: Does stretching help with singing?

The short answer, No. Stretching does not inherently help improve your singing voice.

So…Yoga for singers, why do it?

To feel more present in the body? To allow space for breath? To improve flexibility? To help posture? To relieve pain?

There are some really amazing benefits of yoga. Do it for your mental health, to stimulate a part of your body when you wake up, you could even do it for the positive correlation it induces between heart health and your resilience to stress, but please:

Don’t think you can change the way you breathe and sing by increasing the time you spend stretching.

A necessity for “breath work” often derives from a teacher observing compensating movements in the upper body as the student inhales. In the pursuit of moving a singer’s breath out of the shoulders and chest and into the intercostals and back muscles, singing teachers often use creative metaphors, hoping to trigger a psychosomatic change in their student: Think of a sigh of ecstasy! Be like a monkey!

Sometimes, these images work, and the student re calibrates their perception of singing with a new, more accurate sensation . More often, students walk away with a cognitive understanding that their breath is too high, that their shoulders move too much, and somehow they need to get the tension in their chest, back, and hips to release to make room for a deeper breath.

Enter stretching.

As we stretch, there is a pleasant sensation of expansion and release which we often mistake for beneficial change. In reality, this is merely a moment of awareness as your mind registers a sensation in an area of the body where there previously was none. Numerous studies have demonstrated that stretching not only fails in achieving most of its perceived benefits, but can actually have a negative impact on performance and alignment including a decrease in lower body stability by 22 percent!

Certainly, overall flexibility can improve from stretching, but most stretchers don’t suffer from limited movement, in which case overdeveloped flexibility serves no beneficial purpose. Now, what if your intention is to release tension in a tight muscle you believe is impairing your breathing? Every muscle in your body has a resting level of tension set by the nervous system. Over the course of your life, your posture, repetitive movements, and stress teach these muscles to remain tight. While static stretching temporarily lengthens muscles by reducing the activity of the stretch reflex, the effect is short-lived. Our muscles typically start tightening up within a few hours as the stretch reflex regains normal function. Whatsmore, many of the key muscles involved in singing are unstretchable! 

Most of us will hit the end of the natural range of motion of the joint long before we’ve stretched anywhere near as hard as you can stretch other muscles. In other words, some muscles are just biomechanically awkward to stretch. I call them “the unstretchables” — a bit of hyperbole, but true in spirit. Although these muscles can be elongated, they can’t be elongated enough to create the satisfying sensation of good stretch.*

When singing a difficult phrase requiring sustained support or powerful vocals, you must engage the expansion of your back and intercostal muscles. The intercostal muscles, located in the chest between the ribs are nearly impossible to manipulatively stretch. Their role in singing is one of coordinated release and lengthening achieved through inhibition (or an accurate body map in the students mind) which invites a correlated relationship of expansion from the lower back muscles. And what about post-workout soreness, those days where you have to perform vocally but that lower body session from two days ago has you feeling stiff and vocally blocked? Won’t stretching help to loosen these knots? No.

Your best option is to practice a level of awareness in your workout wherein you monitor proper form, not as it is explained with the end goal of lifting a heavy object, but from an alignment and muscle engagement perspective: Any compression of the spine and lower back or tightening of the psoas and related respiratory muscles will need to be released to its natural resting length throughout every movement and at the end of every session to minimize the impact of workouts on the function of singing.

The deep soreness that follows a hard workout (“delayed-onset muscle soreness” (DOMS) or sometimes just “post-exercise soreness”) is very uncomfortable and it does impair performance. Many people believe that stretching can prevent or relieve it. But this definitely doesn’t work. Basically, nothing touches DOMS — nothing anyone has ever claimed as a treatment for it has actually passed a fair scientific test.*

The deepest problem for singers and non-singers alike lies in our tendency to only become aware of an issue in the body when a tension or misalignment has progressed so far as to cause pain and discomfort. Then, an attempt is made to eradicate the nuisance and yet no question of WHY is posed. Simply stretching tight muscle tissue without addressing the habitual irritant will only result in further misuse of the body and myofascial discomfort. Often, the culprit of our tensions and pain is our own posture and the manner in which we use our body habitually every day of our lives.

Muscles are “dumb”; they do only what they are told to do. I’m constantly pounding it into my patients’ heads that the nervous system controls everything and muscles don’t contract unless the nervous system says so. If a muscle is chronically tight, there’s a reason – for example, the body trying to provide stability to an unstable joint.

-Linsay Way, Dynamic Chiropractic

Chiropractors now suggest warming up your body by doing the exact moves your exercise routine calls for. Thus, in the case of a singer, warm up your connection to deep breathing through… breathing.

Careful- Herein lies a cyclical problem.

When I ask you to breathe, you have an instant reaction of what it means to breathe: How you perceive this action and what you feel while doing it is called your sensory perception. If a faulty sensory perception of “how to breathe” is causing you to follow a habit wherein your body is misaligned and holding tension, a warm up of breathing will never change your habit!

A 2010 paper in Physical Therapy identified our nervous system’s ability to learn how to allow greater movement. This means that a reduction in malleability anywhere in your body is actually a neurologically imposed limitation, not a physical one! The only way to change the resting level of muscle tension being set by the nervous system is through active psychosomatic movement. Improper movement, or habitual movements, can increase undesired tensions, posing a critical need to address faulty sensory perception and re-educate the student’s nervous system through Alexander Technique. Numerous studies back the Alexander Techniques’ efficacy, such as these two randomized studies that show the techniques as less expensive but equally effective, if not more than massage and even yoga in dealing with a full range of issues.

What we can take away from the way athletes approach their warm-up today is using a more gentle, focused piece of the ‘action of singing’ before diving into full belting, opera, or other styles that will call for maximum support. When the coordination and resulting movements are done properly, with a reliable sensory perception and coordinated release and expansion of the body, starting our session as singers by simply practicing breathing and gentle sound production is the absolute best way to warm up! Through this work, you are awakening the psychosomatic relationship integral to singing between your intention, your musicality, and your physical instrument.

How to improve singing everyday

How to improve singing everyday

Singing students often feel guilty when they haven’t sat down and put in hours of uninterrupted practice every week. The thing is, there are ways for you to improve your singing just by having some self-awareness throughout the day! This article will teach you how to improve your singing everyday.

If our bodies are our instruments, then their habits must be worked on to improve sound. What you do throughout your day directly impacts your singing ability.

Connect To Your Voice When You Wake Up

Where does your day begin? The few feet from your head resting on the pillow, to sitting up in bed, to walking to the bathroom. If you live alone, maybe you don’t utter any sounds for a few hours; if you have housemates, a ‘good morning’ or conversation over coffee could be where you begin to vocalize. However, you are not really aware of how you are connecting to your voice here. If you sleep on a mattress that hurts your alignment, if you have naturally damaging habits, or if you spent the previous day dehydrated, you may start to speak in a damaging way!

Change up your morning routine.

When you wake up, do vocal fry on a few exhales. Do it while you brush your teeth and make coffee. If you have the time, lay on the floor in Alexander Technique’s Semi-Supine or Active Rest position for five minutes while performing vocal fry.

Take Those Breaks At Work

It has been said time and time again, take small breaks throughout the day to move your body. This improves focus, body soreness, and mental health. Now let’s add one to the list: It helps your singing too!

Try to take two to three small 5-10 minute breaks throughout the day to check in with your body. Ask your neck to to be free, your head to come forward and up in relation to your spine, and the spine to lengthen and widen in all directions. Simply sending these requests invites your psycho-physical relationship to improve and the body will respond, if only in small degrees at first, more drastically over time. Whatever tensions you are holding throughout the day don’t magically go away when it is time to sing.

Bring body awareness into your breaks at work. Take five minutes a few times a day to check in and give yourself a request to release. Feel your feet in contact with the floor. Think of your ankles extending deep into the ground with your head growing gently up from here, in relation to your back, which lengthens and widens as you sense your true height.

Renew these directions several times while breathing.

Jaw Tension Hurts Singing Ability

To all my teeth grinders and jaw clenchers, now is the time to become aware of your habit! Like all muscles, the more you use them, the stronger they get. Opening your mouth to sing is then restricted. It can be uncomfortable to try to stretch it open farther, and yet a free jaw is essential when singing as it must be able to move according to where in your register you are singing.  Just like stretching any other muscle, you cannot will your jaw to be free and elongate to its maximum potential on the spot! Jaw tension is something a vocal coach in Montreal could help you undo.

When you brush your teeth, wash the dishes, or are working at your desk, check in with your jaw and invite it to release one percent more. Do this repeatedly throughout your day and week to gradually stop jaw clenching and enable the muscles to loosen.

Bad habits and good habits are ingrained in our bodies the same way: through repetition.  We cannot force our body to do the opposite of what it considers its normal 24 hours a day. However, we can permanently change how we use our body during daily activities and in turn, improve how we tap into the body’s abilities during vocal production. How?

By using body awareness and patience to gradually replace bad habits with ‘good use.’

Want to talk to a vocal coach and identify your negative tensions? We can help you create a vocal workout and body awareness program to improve your singing.

How to Improve Breath Support For Singing

How to Improve Breath Control in Singing

The underlying motive of human beings is to achieve a result as quickly and efficiently as possible. This is why marketing catchy titles which promise a fast result are so effective! But, have you considered that like trying to lose weight or using physiotherapy to rebuild muscle coordination and strength, proper breathing is also a full body exercise with absolutely no shortcuts?

But hey, maybe your breathing is already amazing! How am I to know? Just a voice on the internet. So why don’t I help you the best I can to analyze and improve breath support and check if indeed you know how to breathe correctly.

improve breath support

Physiology Of Breathing

To grasp the intricacies of proper breathing, it’s crucial to delve into the mechanics. Despite its daily occurrence, how much do we truly understand about breathing?

Breathing is orchestrated by the autonomous nervous and motor systems, functioning independently to maintain equilibrium. This intricate system not only ensures the optimal intake of oxygen and a balanced level of carbon dioxide but also involves the expansion of the back during inhalation. The diaphragm, a muscular and tendinous structure spanning the base of the neck, is a key player in this process. As diaphragmatic muscles contract during inhalation, the back expands, facilitating the smooth influx of air.


Although methods for conceptualizing and developing breath support are varied from person to person according to the training techniques they have adopted, most teachers and singing artists have common concepts or definitions. Support is using various parts of the skeletal system, such as muscle and lungs, as tools for producing the desired result: improved tone and the capability of singing longer phrases and maintaining the same notes. When a singing teacher talks of the terms breath control or vocal power they are inherently referring to the existence of breathing control techniques necessary for proper breath support.

There are various ways to learn to sing, and many teachers disagree on the best way to make beautiful sound fastest and with the least negative side effects. However, it seems like everyone agrees at least that diaphragmatic breathing is an essential component in singing properly.

Reasons for Dysfunctional Breathing

Dysfunctional breathing happens when we don’t control our breathing. It is common practice for people to inadvertently breathe incorrectly. If a singer has no ability to relax the throat or diaphragm before inhalation, only the upper lungs are filled. There will be no vocal power. A good singing teacher understands the vital importance of relaxation to breathe correctly and efficiently. But the majority of singers lack psychosomatic skills (when we connect our brain/ body awareness/ and muscle malleability to these thoughts) and their singing voice suffers.

Human beings in general tend to breathe in their air flow in a shallow way. Even with practice it takes some time before the healthy diaphragmatic breathing cycle becomes the nervous system’s habitual coordination. Unlike driving on autopilot, this breathing pattern requires conscious work in the beginning before eventually taking minimal energy. Singing requires more coordinated efforts and more diverse breathing methods than it merely takes to survive. This is why most people never address their breathing: They are alive, so it must be working.

However, for vocalists, if the underlying foundation of their breathing techniques fails, singers can have erratic performance outcomes.

The Truth About Breathing Exercises For Singing

As a singer, your breath is the first step to making a good sound. If your breathing is tight, your voice will be tight, your vocal cords will feel stiff, and your singing voice will suffer. Our correct breathing is what we will refer to as the breathing mechanism. It is dependent on flexibility through the rib cage- particularly through the back- proper posture, and a release of unnecessary tension through the pelvic region and abdominal wall to allow space for the diaphragm.

Sounds complicated? It is and it isn’t.

Your body is actually designed to use proper breathing techniques. This is why babies can scream without tiring- their bodies have yet to be manipulated by slouching in class and at work, how we tighten our neck when we workout, or how we constantly manipulate our posture as we look down at our phone to text.

The way we use our body builds what is referred to in Alexander Technique as “undo tension,” and as singers we must become hyper aware of how we are using our body: Natural breathing is achieved through the process of releasing tension in the body while re coordinating correct habitual patterns.

The most frustrating part of it all: there is no black and white, a + b= c approach to breathing well. 🤷🏼Your body and the tensions you have are completely different from everyone else, which is why breathing exercises which claim to be a universal solution are not the quick fix you think they are.

the best vocal coach for you

How To Analyze Your Breathing Technique

Lets play body detective. Perform these tests to check if you are relaxed and are breathing correctly. This test will not give you the answer to the question, “Where is my unnecessary tension?” However, it will visually and immediately answer the question, “Do I breathe correctly?”

1. Find a mirror in which you can see your full body


2. Stand naturally- don’t position yourself in any manufactured way


3. Start with a an exhale: let out everything you are holding onto


4. Inhale slowly and watch how your body takes in air. These should be slow breaths so that you can see how your body tries to make room for their air


5. Ask yourself what is moving? What feels stiff? Make notes of these observations


6. Make sure to Inhale deeply, but notice if you have the urge to “tank up.”


Beginner singers usually breathe as much air as they can without taking any time to think of the length of phrase. These breathing habits often result in an ‘increase in clogging up the lungs’ resulting in ‘fast breaths expelled’. (These same singers are usually ‘clavicular’ breathers who gasp for air between phrases in order to expel the remaining stale air.)

We can label tanking up as taking in as much air as your lung capacity will allow. When you inhale, how much air you take should be somewhere between a deep breath with your lungs filling, but not so deep that you tank up.

Keep this in mind as you perform the following tests.

What Is "Tanking UP"

Beginner singers usually breathe as much air as they can without taking any time to think of the length of phrase. These breathing habits often result in an ‘increase in clogging up the lungs’ resulting in ‘fast breaths expelled’. (These same singers are usually ‘clavicular’ breathers who gasp for air between phrases in order to expel the remaining stale air.)

We can label tanking up as taking in as much air as your lung capacity will allow. When you inhale, how much air you take should be somewhere between a deep breath with your lungs filling, but not so deep that you tank up.

Keep this in mind as you perform the following tests.

Test Your Breath Support

Test Your Breathing

The following are directions to aid you in learning how to identify whether you need to improve your breathing. If breathing is halting your progress as a singer- you’re about to know it!

1. Don't think too much

Don’t think about air quantity on this breath. Just go for it!

When you breathe in, do you feel you are taking shallow breaths?

When you think about your breathing throughout the day, do you think they are shallow breaths? Do you feel your air rapidly fills in short bursts? Do you feel your air supply is small causing you to breathe more often?

Write down what you notice.

2. Consciously inhale

Lets consciously inhale now.

Inhale deeply without tanking up.

Do you feel a tension in your chest or between your collar bones?

3. Lower Body Test

When you breathe in and sing a single note or sound, do your hip sockets tighten? Do you become stiff in your legs, lower back, or hips?

Write down what you feel.

4. Upper Body Test

Make sure to look in a mirror now. When you breathe in, do your shoulders rise? Do you notice your chest rises?

Write down what you see.

5. Jaw Test

During your inhale or sound production, does your jaw tighten? What about your neck?

Write down what you feel.

6. Back Flexibility Test

Now lay on the floor with your knees up and feet flat on the ground. When you inhale, does your back widen, slightly pressing into the ground, or do you feel tighten? Do you feel your back actually pulls away from the ground instead of opening into it?

Write down what you feel.

7. Self Assessment Time!

If you answered yes to any of these tests and noticed any of the above tensions listed, your body is not free to take in air and support your sound with its full strength and colour.

Your intercostal muscles are likely not engaged. The surrounding muscles may in fact be extremely tense preventing proper vocal technique, relaxation and even causing poor posture.

Any “breathe exercises” from Youtube for instance that you perform will not address the overall coordination of your body and your unique tensions.

So what will?

Tamar simon performs with proper breathe technique

Alexander Technique For Singers

As I mentioned earlier, I cannot give you a quick fix! This is why a vocal coach is so essential: A singing coach trained in Alexander Technique will be able to analyze your sound quality and physical habits. Based on their observations, they will be able to walk you through a sequence of thoughts which will re coordinate your body and develop mobility through key areas for healthy singing, such as the rib cage, psoas muscle, lower back, and freedom of the neck and jaw.

In order to breathe properly, you must learn how to work around sensory perception: The current understanding of the nervous system as to how to coordinate itself to make sound and breathe. Many singers, actors, voice actors, tour guides, etc. use Alexander Technique to improve their sound and breath control for this reason. It is a proven method of improving breath management, breath support, vocal range, vocal power, reducing chronic pain in neck and abdominal muscles,, and ensuring you can in fact breathe deeply.

When you understand how to monitor your body for tension, inhibit habitual reactions, and coordinate new muscles, you will be able to apply this awareness and learning methodology to vocal exercises and breathing exercises you find online.


The danger to your vocal health, proper posture, and breath control lies in mindlessly performing actions with your body which reaffirm bad habits.


When you are ready to take the next step, reach out to a voice teacher- preferably one with training in alexander technique- and change the way you breathe to change how you sing. Undoubtedly you will also be overjoyed with how much better your neck feels on a daily basis, how your jaw seems to feel less tight, how you can easily maintain proper posture without thinking about it, and how naturally your body can take a correct breath.


What About Yoga Breathing?

Many singers ask if yoga and practicing yoga breathing specifically is good for improving breath control. From an Alexander Technique perspective, any activity can be beneficial for breathing if you bring conscious control into the equation: Conscious control is the term given by Alexander to a form of body awareness where the head-neck-back- relationship leads all movement in order to organize the entire body correctly. Without this awareness, your movement through a yoga flow is comprised of habitual movement restricted by whatever tensions your body holds.

When we stretch a muscle, we do not re coordinate it back into the necessary functioning of the entire body. This is why when you stretch your neck, it may feel temporarily better, but very quickly the pain returns: Your body is coordinating itself the way it always has.

However, if you learn how to use Alexander Technique, every yoga practice breathing move becomes a brilliant way to build and change the coordination of your body! Don’t get me wrong. belly breathing is never going to be the answer to proper breathing, but the combination of Alexander Technique- conscious re coordinating of the body- with the mobility and stretching of yoga and yoga breathing is a beautiful combination.

Thus, stretching and yoga by itself may make you feel good, it certainly relaxes you, but it will not change your singing voice or directly improve breathing techniques.

Yoga Breathing

Breathing for singing: To the diaphragm and beyond!

My job as a voice teacher is for students to learn to sing properly, which involves teaching a student to breathe! Sometimes students may request breathing exercises directly, but they are not ready for me to give them breathing exercises because they are trying to “end gain.” That is, they desperately want a result, and they want it quickly, so any direction I give them is filtered through a need to achieve a result and body awareness and observation flies out the window.

This is why voice classes in person are so great. As a singing coach trained in Alexander Technique, I can stimulate their nervous system to respond with improved coordination through my touch while walking the student through the thought sequences I have successfully used to re coordinate my own body.

So, How can one learn how to breathe properly while singing? By developing a sequence of thoughts that works for them to relax and re coordinate the body even before making sound.

Everyday, whether you choose to follow along to an Alexander Technique style warmup or practice another form of body awareness, all that matters is that you try it! Stop being in a rush to make sound and take the time to be hyper aware of what your body is doing. Once you master inhaling without tension, you will be much better aligned to work on engaging your muscles on the exhale.

One thing is certain

Learning to breathe when working on a singing voice is a good starting point. It is because breathing support makes your voice strong throughout your entire vocal range.

Generally, singing exercises are helpful for enhancing your breathing ability but need to be integrated into your routine when ready. 

 So prioritize working with a singing teacher trained in breathing exercises, alexander technique, and voice lessons who has also gone through the journey of discovering this work for his or herself- this is the best person to impart their knowledge onto you.