Monday, November 02, 2015

How to sing quietly (without running out of breath)

Some people find it hard to sing quietly. They seem to run out of breath easily and their voice goes all wobbly.

photo by Cristian V.

Why is this and how can you learn to sing quietly?

When we’re asked to sing quietly, we can think it means less energy is needed. So the body slumps and goes a bit floppy, less breath is taken in, focus and concentration get a bit fuzzy, and we generally work less hard.

With less breath and bad posture you’ll find that there’s not enough support for your voice and you will end up wobbling.

Even though we’re singing quietly, we still need a constant flow of air over the vocal cords in order to produce sound.

Some people sing quietly by being very breathy. That is, they don’t use all their breath to produce the sound, but allow some breath to escape at the same time. Lots of pop singers do this for effect. This will reduce the volume, but since you’re effectively throwing away some of your breath, you may find that you run out more quickly than usual.

The answer is to counter your unconscious reactions by doing what may feel like the opposite: be more focused, take in plenty of air, have an erect posture, and work harder.

Try this: sing a passage you know well quietly but with very little energy. Now try it again but this time increase the energy, breath, focus, etc. whilst maintaining the same volume. Notice any difference?

I get asked so often about breathing and singing (usually along the lines of “I always run out of breath, what can I do?”), that I’m planning to write a whole series of non-technical posts on singing and breathing very soon. Stay tuned!

If you have any specific questions about singing and breathing, do drop me a line and I’ll try to incorporate them.

Chris Rowbury



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Chris Rowbury


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