How To Sing From Your Diaphragm

Do You Know How To Sing From Your Diaphragm?

It's happened again. Another, poor, singing student has received the confusing instruction to "breathe from your diaphragm".

And that person...

... Is you!

I'm sorry. I don't mean to seem like a tease. In fact, the reason I wrote this page is because...

... I Know How You Feel!

You see I too, have been instructed to "sing from my diaphragm. I too, have not really understood what it means. I too, have spent hours trying to master this so called "diaphragmatic breathing". With little or no success.

But you know what I discovered? Brace yourself... This may sound a little strange.

Diaphragmatic breathing is the biggest myth in singing! There... I said it.

I know this because I tried SO many so-called "breathing exercises". I've invested time and money in learning how to sing from your diaphragm. But it never worked. And later I discovered why it didn't work...

Why This Technique Does Not Work

Let me first say, the teachers that are giving you these instructions aren't completely wrong. Yes, breathing does have to occur in a certain way for you to sound great. But the thing is, you can already breathe properly. Your diaphragm ALREADY works automatically.

Let's clarify this some more. I know it may sound a little confusing.

When you fall asleep at night, why do you stay alive until morning? Because your diaphragm works by itself! It doesn't need exercises specifically designed to train it to work. It can already work well enough for your singing. You don't need to learn how to sing from your diaphragm.

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The Biggest Problem Is...

When your teacher goes on and on about how to sing from your diaphragm, and how to support your tone, it gives you the impression that you need a lot of support to sing.

It gives you the idea that you have to consciously control how much air you send to your vocal chords. And this pattern of thinking is...

... very damaging to your singing.

You see, you don't need a lot of support (or air pressure). You just need the right amount. And it's impossible to send exactly the right amount of air by 'thinking about it', which is what these breathing exercises make you do.

There Is A Better Way...

Instead of training your breathing muscles (which won't work), why not cut to what's really important. Why not train the muscles that do control your voice. What I'm talking about is the 'inner muscles of the larynx'.

These are the muscles that control your vocal chords, which make your sound.

You see, to sing well, you need to strengthen these 'inner' muscles, so they can hold your vocal chord together. When your chords are holding together, your voice will remain connected... Meaning you will be able to sing, over a large range, with absolute ease.

If these 'inner' muscles are not strong enough, or if you send too much air pressure (which is what will happen if you use the 'diaphragmatic support method) your chords will break apart. This is when your voice falls apart. It sounds breathy, and you won't be able to sing in a large vocal range.

Once you train these muscles to hold together, your breathing will be regulated automatically. That's right. Correct breathing is actually a by-product of holding your vocal chords together. Not by learning how to sing from your diaphragm.

Click here for a free singing video on breathing technique

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About The Author

Roger Burnley - Vocal CoachRoger Burnley - Vocal Coach

Roger Burnley is a vocal coach located in Hollywood, California. He has been teaching the voice for over 30 years and singing for even longer than that. 

Notable past and present clients include Macy Gray, Brandy, Ray J, The Beastie Boys, James Torme, Taylor Lautner, Nona Gaye, and many more.

His clients have collectively sold more than 30 million albums, with several reaching Platinum and Gold status. 

Roger has been featured on VH1, TV Guide Channel, TV One,
and MTV appearing as a vocal expert.

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