When To Take A Breath When You Sing?

by Carla Kelley
(Monroe, WI)

When I'm holding out a note I feel like I should of taken a breath at an exact point beforehand.

I find it hard to judge how far I can hold it and still get to the end of the note.

From The Editor

Hi Carla, these are great questions!

First of all, yes. Breathing can be a tricky issue in some songs.

Here's something interesting to note.

When you see a professional singer perform on stage, and nail it...

... He/She has very likely practiced the song literally hundreds of times.

The great performers. They are perfectionists. And they have the work ethic to back it up.

Now what does this have to do with getting through the song without running out of air?

Well, a few things.

Firstly, when you first begin to learn a song, it will take a little while to work out all the "in's and out's".

For each song, there are going to be ideal times to take a breath. And there are going to be moments when you need to breathe in deeper.

This is one reason why the pro's practice the song so many times. They discover all the little in's and out's... the best times to take a breath... the positioning of their tone for each note... the way to hit each note depending on what letter each word begins with.

My favorite vocal coach, Roger Burnley always talks about how when your voice "breaks apart" or you "run out of air", very often it can be traced back to what you did the note before.

So that's step one. You need to know the song so well it becomes a part of you.

This will give you an understanding of the rhythm of the breathing patterns that will get you through each difficult passage.


As usual, to sing your best it all comes back to technique.

And one sign of making technique mistakes is when you are constantly running out of air.

Now remember, technique is all about learning a skill. It's NOT about your level of talent.

Literally anyone with a voice can learn to sing beautifully. And the key is to get your technique in order.

So if you are running out of air, your balance between air and vocal cord pressure may be a little off. You may be singing with a "breathy" tone that is leaving you breathless.

To work on this, check out the video section on this website. You'll find videos that will tackle both correct breathing, as well as allowing your vocal cords to get the most tone from your voice.

I hope this helps you with your breathing issue, and good luck. Knock em dead with your next vocal performance!

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Oct 30, 2015
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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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