Music and Singing

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Breathing Techniques in Performing Arts

Working within the performing arts you’ll be aware of how important good breathing techniques are for helping you give your best performance as an actor, musician, singer or dancer.

One essential technique is learning to understand when to take a breath. As a musician breathing preparation is essential if your pitch and phrasing is to be fluid, and as an actor practicing breathing techniques for breath control will help you perform monologues and long speeches.  As a singer controlling your breath is essential in order to ensure you don’t run out of breath while performing, and efficient breathing is a component of body conditioning in dance.

You learn to control your breath by connecting with and using your diaphragm to breathe. Your diaphragm needs to be strong to help you control your breathing and your breathing muscles need to have the stamina so that you have the power to continue performing at your best. 

Inspiratory Muscle Training: 

  • Enhances the ability to inflate the lungs (take deeper breaths) 
  • Enhances the ability to control the breath 
  • Enhances the ability to sustain forceful breathing (breathing does not become fatigued) 
  • Training may affect the intrinsic laryngeal muscles which control the action of the larynx
  • Breathing Training

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    • POWERbreathe inspiratory muscle training targets the breathing muscles you use to inhale, primarily your diaphragm and intercostal muscles, by using resistance training to exercise them and strengthening them by around 30-50%, significantly improving performance and helping to eliminate breathing fatigue. 

      Based upon our scientific understanding of the response of Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) in athletes (i.e. the muscles we use to breathe), a number of factors have proved to be of benefit to performing artists, including vocal exercises for singers / vocalists, actors, teachers and public speakers. 

      Inspiratory Muscle Training benefits: 

      • Enhances the ability to inflate the lungs (take deeper breaths) 
      • Enhances the ability to control the breath 
      • Enhances the ability to sustain forceful breathing (breathing does not become fatigued) 
      • Training may affect the intrinsic laryngeal muscles which control the action of the larynx 

      If you make any muscle stronger you improve your ability to control it, and the movement it creates, whilst operating under load. For example, if you strengthen your arm by weight training, you will discover that your ability to perform the same task is improved as a consequence of your superior arm strength. When you breathe via an external resistance such as POWERbreathe, all of the muscles of inspiration are activated to an extent that is proportional to the size of the added resistance, training them to become stronger and more resistant to fatigue.

  • Vocal Exercises for Actors and Singers

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    • Speaking and singing are very similar as they both focus on breath, rhythm, tune and phrasing. With voice training, as an actor or singer you can develop your range, clarity, strength and flexibility of voice, using vocal exercises to help release tension, improve expressiveness and build confidence.

      Learning to control your breath will help you control your voice, and using POWERbreathe inspiratory muscle training as a component of your vocal exercises will help you make full use of your lungs, and how you inhale affects how well you exhale. 

      Also important is good posture and strong, toned abdominal muscles, and your breathing muscles need to be strong so that you have the force to propel your voice when you need to deliver clear articulation or volume, but also have the strength to control your breath when you need to be quieter. Your breathing muscles also need the stamina for helping you achieve higher notes and slow phrases. 

      The aim of breathing exercises for breath control is to inhale as much as possible, as quickly as possible, so that you can then release that air, your breath, in a controlled manner as you speak or sing. The scientifically proven POWERbreathe training helps you do just that – you breathe in through the device as deeply and as quickly as possible against the resistance, and then release your breath as you would normally. This technique exercises your inspiratory muscles, improving their strength and stamina. 

      When you breathe via an external resistance such as POWERbreathe, all of the muscles of inspiration are activated to an extent that is proportional to the size of the added resistance. It is reasonable to suggest that this also applies to your lateral cricarytenoid muscles, and to other muscles that act to pull your vocal folds apart, including the cricothyroid. Certainly there is a large movement of your larynx during loaded breathing that is readily observed externally. This being the case, vocal exercises with POWERbreathe may enhance the ability to generate tension in your vocal folds and thus increase your vocal range. 

      As a vocal performer POWERbreathe provides a unique stimulus to your inspiratory muscles, as well as to the smaller vocal accessory muscles. This stimulus cannot be produced without imposing an external load to inhalation, but the functional enhancement it stimulates may provide for enhanced capacity, endurance and range. 

      A little test to see how effective your breath control has become from breathing from your diaphragm following inspiratory muscle training with POWERbreathe, is to make sounds (such as la, so, fa, do) as you exhale. Can you control how slowly or how forcefully you make these sounds, and can you vary this as you exhale?

      Vocal Fitness Program

      In 2007, a group of Pineapple Cheerleaders participated in a 6-week intensive vocal fitness program that incorporated POWERbreathe: 

      "Since regularly practicing with the POWERbreathe, I feel that my cheers and chants have developed a better sound and have a more rounded tone...Having completed the POWERbreathe program at the same time as working on High School Musical, I was pleased to see that both my vocal range and audibility had significantly increased by the end of the 6 week run. Throughout the later shows, my tone of voice remained consistent with the same audibility and I felt that I was genuinely less tired by these last shows compared to the earlier ones." Julia, Professional Cheerleader, Pineapple Cheerleaders, UK 

  • Breathing Exercises for Vocal Warm-up

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      Before you start working on your script or song, just as with any exercise, warming-up is essential. Your vocal folds (vocal cords) are no exception and need to be warmed up before working at an optimum rate, so it is important to carry out a vocal warm up. 

      The work that our scientists undertook with singers supported the notion that vocal exercises with POWERbreathe could enhance the ability to generate tension in the vocal folds and thus increase vocal range, as they reported an improvement in their singing ability and reported that their voices felt "warmed-up" after using POWERbreathe.

      Vocal performers have reported that training and warm-up with POWERbreathe provides something that they cannot achieve through any other means of training, practice or warm-up. 

      More about POWERbreathe for vocal warm-up can be found in our Training section.

  • Breathing Exercises for Musicians

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      If you play wind instruments you’ll know how important airflow is and how it can affect tone and phrase length. You’ll also be aware of your breathing, and how your musical performance can suffer due to lack of breathing preparation, including exercising the inspiratory muscles (breathing muscles) to make them stronger and improve their stamina. 

      Lack of breathing strength and stamina can leave you as a musician gasping for air between musical phrases and without the strength to hold notes for prolonged, powerful performances. Thankfully your breathing muscles are like any other muscle group and can be trained to improve their strength and stamina.  

      If you make any muscle stronger you improve your ability to control it, and the movement it creates, whilst operating under load. For example, if you strengthen your arm by weight training, you will discover that your ability to perform the same task is improved as a consequence of your superior arm strength. 

      When you breathe via an external resistance such as POWERbreathe, all of the muscles of inspiration are activated to an extent that is proportional to the size of the added resistance, and for a musician POWERbreathe provides a unique stimulus to the inspiratory muscles. This stimulus cannot be produced without imposing an external load to inhalation, but the functional enhancement it stimulates may provide for enhanced capacity and endurance.

  • Breathing Exercises for Dancers

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      As a dancer you have to learn to breathe not only efficiently, but with elegance, so that your upper chest can remain free to allow control of your arms. This means you must control your breathing from your thoracic region and your diaphragm.  

      Breathing techniques are important in the life of a dancer as they can help improve your performance by increasing your breathing strength and stamina. If your breathing becomes fatigued then your posture and technique can suffer; you may create tension in your neck and upper back, and ultimately your performance is impaired. This can also have a knock on effect as the situation becomes stressful causing you to breathe more shallowly or even hold your breath.  

      Strong inspiratory muscles, the muscles you use to breathe, will help you with opening and rising movements, and in turn they will help you control your expiratory breath as you lower and close. Exercising your breathing muscles with POWERbreathe inspiratory muscle training will make them stronger and improve their stamina, helping you to take in as much air as possible and hold it for when lifting. It will also help with more athletic choreography when you need your breathing and stamina to match the demands that athletic dance has on your body. Also when you tense any muscle during a dance performance, your breathing is affected, so inspiratory muscle training with POWERbreathe is an important component for dance conditioning. 

      POWERbreathe inspiratory muscle training will improve your breathing strength, stamina and performance.

  • Resources

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  • Research

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