If you are a frequent visitor to KTV bars, you will often listen to bar singers who would venture to sing a fast-paced song and end up running out of breath. It makes you want to guffaw or chuckle on your seat. Yet, had these singers learned the proper way of breathing while singing, they would have made a sterling rendition of their songs.
One cannot simply take a deep breath as one glides from one phrase to another when singing. One also needs to maintain controlled breathing without making one’s breath obvious. Controlled breathing, of course, more often separates the professional from the amateur singers.
Your lack of training in breathing will be most evident if you are singing fast songs or rapping. Rapping relies on vocal delivery that comes with rhyme and rhythmic speech, done in vernacular language. So, if you are desirous of becoming a rapper or a good singer, you need to control your breathing.
Why Do You Lose Your Breath When Singing?
You need air to produce voice when you are speaking or singing. When speaking, for example, your vocal cords within your voice box vibrate feverishly to create sound. The vocal muscles surrounding the vocal folds make these vibrations possible by bringing your vocal cords together while allowing a whiff of air from your lungs to pass through.
However, if you breathe in and breathe out, a significant amount of air passes through your vocal cords. This passing of more air might be useful to your lungs but bad for singing because you will run out of breath as you sing.
Hence, when you are singing a fast song or rapping, you need to sustain your breath. Do not let much air out of your lungs, for you will tend to run out of air and gasp for air. Instead, let little air through your vocal folds, reserving the air inside your lungs so that you will not feel bereft of fresh air.
Sometimes you will find professional singers singing as if they are whispering. These professional singers keep their vocal folds a bit open to create a sufficient amount of sound while allowing little whiff of air to leak out. In this way, the vocal folds will create a clean and clear tone without making the singer sound breathy.
Yet, some singers—not trained in right breathing—will leak out so much air to produce louder sounds. With so much air leaking out of the vocal folds, the lungs would soon run out of air. Like a drowning man, these untrained singers would then gasp for air because of letting out too much air. To compensate for their lack of air, they draw in a massive amount of air, disrupting their singing.
In doing so, they look and sound funny and awkward. It will help to remember that it is not what the amount of air you inhale that matters when singing, but your level of efficiency in using the air you breathe in.
Useful Breathing Techniques For Singing Fast Songs
As I keep saying, breathing techniques can help you avoid the awkward moment of running out of breath when you sing a fast song. Here are some of the most useful breathing techniques you can utilize:
1) Practice Snatching in-between Long Phrases
When singing long phrases, you need a short rest to catch your breath. You need to get in enough air quickly during this short rest without being noticed.
As a practice, you need to get yourself in a hefty exercise mode to improve your breathing while singing. As your breathing gets fast, stand straight, and sing a song with long phrases. You will feel that your body would want to inhale. Once you inhale, you will see that air goes unimpeded down your body when you breathe.
This type of breathing is different from the normal breathing you would take. It is also different from gasping for air. At this point, your throat is open and helps you make that quiet and quick breath.
2) Practice Sniffing the Air
Practice makes perfect. Thus, if you want to develop good breathing technique while singing, you need to practice the right breathing exercises more often. You can start taking a good breathing posture. Then, start breathing through your nose. Yet, you should not merely inhale; you should quickly sniff the air. While sniffing the air, you will feel that the sniffed air goes down deep into your lower lungs.
You can engage in this type of breathing as you practice fast-paced songs. Remember, you will practice this breathing type to develop a specific breathing habit perfect for singing a quick tune.
After those short sniffing breaths, you can then breathe in silence through your mouth. Pretend that you are surprised while breathing. Master this breathing type, likewise, and combine it with the sniffing kind of breathing.
As you master both breathing types, you can indeed sing any fast song without running out of breath. Using such techniques, you can hold your breath until you reach a comma or full stop.
3) Control Your Breath on Long Non-stop Phrases.
As you trained yourself in singing, you will soon learn how to control the passage of air out of your nostril. The trick is to be able to hold your breath until you reach the comma or end of the phrase. Along with lengthy phrases, of course, you need to take quick inhalation and slow exhalation.
A quick release of breath may cause tension and make it difficult for you to produce the necessary sound. You can practice slow exhalation by holding a lit candle in front of your mouth. Then, breathe deeply. Now, you would tend to breathe out faster too. Yet, instead of exhaling fast, you can hold your breath a bit and slowly release air without snuffing off the light of the candle.
Watch how the air you exhale passes through the flame. Make sure that you don’t extinguish the flame. Continue breathing out until you have breathed out the air. You should do this in the most relaxed way possible.
4) Be Aware of Your Inhalation and Practice Slow Breathing
Another way to develop good breathing for quick songs is to be aware of the way you breathe. Awareness of breathing, of course, would enable you to correct it. Breathe from your lungs deeply. Let the air fill your lungs.
Then, place your index finger over your lips and say, “shhh.” As you say “shhh,” you will feel the air coming out of your mouth. This practice lets you exhale in a relaxed and automatic fashion.
You should practice this method five times a day. As you practice this method, you enable your muscles to gain perfect control of the air that you release.
You can also practice slow breathing. Count one to twenty as you slowly inhale. Then, exhale while counting up to twenty likewise. This breathing practice enables you to control the amount of air you release when you are singing and helps you refrain from breathing with quick air bursts.
You may say that inhaling is the most natural thing to do in life. It is as natural as exhaling. Yet, when singing, you need to control your breathing to create the necessary sound. You need to have perfect control of the muscles around your vocal folds to ensure that you will never run out of breath. Correct inhalation entails keeping a good posture while you breathe in and out.
Your body should be free of tension, and your throat should be open when you breathe. It will help to keep your shoulders steady to let the most air inside your body when you breathe. Moreover, you can master the above-mentioned breathing exercises with a constant breathing practice and employ them perfectly when singing fast-paced songs.