Like any other skill, proper singing requires a lot of time and practice. Since there are many singing exercises out there, it’s sometimes hard to choose, but one of the most common ones is using your diaphragm.
So how do you sing from your diaphragm in the first place?
In learning how to sing from your diaphragm, you should first familiarize yourself with how it works and then learn how to practice using your diaphragm.
The diaphragm is a muscle that helps you breathe. It is connected to the actions of vocal cords and, therefore, singing. There are ways you can learn how to use it, which will help you improve your singing technique significantly.
Although the notion itself might seem a little abstract or complicated at first, once you understand how the diaphragm works in singing and start with your lessons, you will find out what it means.
Also, if you learn how to “breathe properly,” understand what is happening with your body meanwhile, and practice daily, you will not only be going to get benefits for your voice and will know how to sing but many other things as well.
So, what is stopping you to at least try?
What Does The Diaphragm Do?
The diaphragm is a thin dome-shaped muscle located below the lungs. It separates the abdomen from the chest and helps you breathe, by contracting continually and mostly involuntarily. But how does that affect your singing?
Since the diaphragm is in charge of the process of inhalation when you exhale, it relaxes, and the air is expelled from the lungs. And as every singer knows, controlling the air is one of the basic vocal techniques.
By learning how to breathe air properly and getting in touch with your diaphragm that directly affects that process, you will undoubtedly improve your vocal performance.
Moreover, by attempting to exhale slowly, you will notice that you are, in fact, in control of the breathing, but only for a few moments.
The diaphragm ensures proper exhalation, even though its primary function is to assist in inhalation. So when you are singing and exhaling long breaths during long notes, the diaphragm will eventually take control over it.
The Diaphragm and Vocal Cords
The voice is produced by the lungs’ airflow, which is coordinated by the diaphragm and chest and abdominal muscles. When the air is pushed out of the lungs, it rises to the larynx, where vocal cords (or vocal folds) are located and makes them vibrate.
Basically, vocal cords cut the air into smaller ‘puffs’ that then create a sound.
The produced sound is modified by movements in the vocal tract, and the accompanying vocal vibration creates intonation and tone. Along with other actions that include air pressure, these processes affect the vibration frequency, shaping the voice’s basic pitch.
It is clear now that the diaphragm plays an essential role in singing. Also, even though it works mostly involuntarily, you can decide when to use it and sing from it. A flat diaphragm allows better control of your air supply to vocal cords, and it also strengthens the support to the airstream that you use to sing.
When you keep all of this in mind, you can begin to understand that your vocal apparatus is very interestingly structured and that you will learn how to sing and how its functions could bring your singing skills to another level.
Learn To Sing From Your Diaphragm
If you want to bring your voice to a professional level, learning how to sing from your diaphragm is crucial.
Needless to say, adequate breathing techniques are of great importance here, and although all of this seems connected (and it is), there is a specific exercise that will help you understand how singing from your diaphragm works and how you can use it for your singing.
It would help if you started with exercises to strengthen your diaphragm incorporation, to begin with singing steps better prepared.
1) Feel your diaphragm
First thing, try to locate your diaphragm muscle. To do that, you need to sit comfortably and relax your body, then put your hand just below your rib cage.
As you start breathing slowly, you will be able to feel your stomach moving against your palm. The diaphragm is a muscle that envelops your entire torso, so you will feel it moving as you breathe.
2) Breathe into your diaphragm
One of the most important steps is to try to breathe into your diaphragm. Keep in mind that you first need to be relaxed like in other breathing and vocal exercises. So sit back, and relax your shoulders, knees, neck, and face.
The easiest way to learn to breathe into your diaphragm is to inhale to the point that your lungs are full. Try to stick your stomach as far as possible, and then slowly exhale while you suck your stomach.
You will feel slight pressure, and with time learn how to isolate your diaphragm. This step takes some practice, though, so be patient and persistent.
3) Breathing exercises for the diaphragm
There are lots of different breathing exercises for your diaphragm, and one of the most common ones is similar to the method of feeling your diaphragm – you place one hand on the chest, and the other one below your rib cage and slowly breathe through your nose.
You can do this exercise sitting or lying down with your knees bent.
Another useful and simple exercise is to count out the inhaling and exhaling time and gradually increase it. This way, you will also improve your stamina, stretch your limits, and get much better results in your singing lessons.6
Moreover, diaphragmatic breathing is recommended not only for singers – it is beneficial for overall health. As it is also called, belly breathing encourages full oxygen exchange, which can lower your heartbeat and stabilize your blood pressure.
Therefore, this kind of breathing is important for people with certain pulmonary diseases, but it can also keep you relaxed and focused.
4) Practice lip trills
You can do lip trills by closing your lips and continuously push out air while singing a melody. Besides being a great warm-up tool for your voice, lip trills will help you develop better control of your airflow.
Of course, both lip trills and diaphragmatic breathing techniques should be a part of your daily routine if you want to achieve the results you want in singing.
You also need to integrate them into your singing lessons and apply them to your singing every time. At first, you will have to remind yourself of doing it, but later they will become a part of your technique.
Singing Exercises For Your Diaphragm
After strengthening steps, you are ready for singing exercises and learn how to sing from your diaphragm.
As you might have assumed, before starting your practice, you need to warm-up your vocal cords. Breathing exercises are always great for the warm-up, as well as the singing of the highest and lowest notes.
Some singers also like to massage their jaw and cheeks muscles while making the “mamama“ sound.
There are many possibilities, and you should keep trying them out until you find the one that suits you the most.
2) Mind your posture
Like you already know, the diaphragm is located above your abdomen, so you should keep it “open” by maintaining a correct posture. While sitting or standing, your shoulders and arms should be relaxed and leaned back, and your neck straight (and relaxed!).
On the other hand, if you sing from the diaphragm, you take long and big breaths, which should automatically prevent you from slouching posture. Nonetheless, be mindful of your body and keep a proper posture not only in your singing exercises but in the rest of your daily routine as well.
3) Open your throat
Besides keeping a correct posture, you should allow the air to flow also by opening your throat.
There are many learning techniques, such as yawning, assuming a facial expression of surprise, imagining a ping pong ball in your mouth, and so on. No matter which approach you choose, you should keep practicing it to control your diaphragm efficiently.
4) Learn the difference between your voices
When you start singing different notes, you change your voice accordingly. Therefore, you actually have two voices: one for the high notes and one for the low ones.
Then there is the falsetto, which requires a different technique. By learning this difference and keeping your singing voice in tune, you will use your diaphragm more easily.
5) Practice articulation
Voice articulation is also essential to practice when learning how to sing from your diaphragm. There are many ways to do it, and the most popular ones are tongue twisters, yawning, humming, and so on. This will also help you master hard consonants and sing any song smoothly.
After you learn these basic steps, many exercises are efficient and useful in improving your singing with the diaphragm.
One of the easiest exercises is the balloon exercise – you imagine a balloon inside your stomach, try to fill it with air, and squeeze it out afterward.
You can also stand in front of a mirror, put your arms in a parallel position, and try to breathe without moving your shoulders or chest. Another method is pretending that you have a straw in your mouth and then exhaling through to it.
Choose whatever exercise works best for you, and incorporate it into your daily routine. That way, it will eventually become natural to sing from the diaphragm, and you will notice improvements in your singing.
With daily practice and knowledge about your voice, you will learn more quickly and expand your abilities while enjoying the process.
If you find learning to sing all by yourself is difficult, hiring a vocal coach might better suit your needs, or more simply, why not consider online singing lessons?
Want an easier way to learn how to sing? Check out our comprehensive list and reviews of online singing lessons that work.