POWERbreathe For Vocalists

POWERbreathe Japan have been supporting several singers with POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training to help them breathe more deeply, control their breath and sustain forceful breathing.

Artists who’ll be undertaking their POWERbreahte Inspiratory Muscle Training include singer-songwriters Chika Takahashi and UKO (Yuko), and vocalists Daisuke and Nona.

Each artist has their own unique style of singing but each vocalist will benefit from POWERbreathe IMT.

Chika Takahashi

Chika, a beautifully soft-voiced neo-acoustic singer has been using POWERbreathe since last year and began using it two-weeks prior to a live performance, afterwards saying how comfortable her breathing was during the performance. She now uses it on a daily basis and takes it with her to all live performances so she can perform a vocal warm-up prior to going on-stage.

You can see Chika talking about POWERbreathe on YouTube >

Daisuke

Daisuke, a versatile singer with a reputation for a powerful falsetto voice has not long started POWERbreathe training.

He says that because you can’t actually see your breathing muscles you don’t think about training them, but after using POWERbreathe he felt immediately how much stronger they would become.

Nona

Nona is a percussionist and vocalist and therefore not only has to have enough breathing stamina to sing, but also to drum at the same time, so her breathing will fatigue quite quickly. By using POWERbreathe daily she will improve her breathing strength and stamina and reduce her breathing fatigue.

UKO (Yuko)

UKO has a mellow and soulful voice, and in 2014 her single “Signal” was nominated for the ‘JBS Music Award’. She’s a very energetic singer and realises how important it is that her breathing muscles are strong in order for her to maintain her energy. POWERbreathe IMT will help her with this as she’ll be training her breathing muscles twice a day to become stronger and more resistant to fatigue.

Find out more about POWERbreathe for vocalists in Japan >

Proper Breathing – POWERbreathe Can Help

Your primary breathing muscle is your diaphragm; a dome shaped thin sheet of muscle separating your rib cage from your abdomen.

When you inhale this dome shape flattens out as your diaphragm contracts, pushing down on the contents of your abdomen (your gut) and increasing the space in your chest cavity.

Because your gut has to go somewhere as your diaphragm descends, it forces it down and out and your tummy expands. Because of this, this natural, healthy and proper way of breathing is often referred to as abdominal breathing or diaphragmatic breathing.

If you do already have a good breathing technique it can often go awry when you start exercising as you demand more air and your breathing increases to compensate. This is when your breathing technique can change from good diaphragmatic breathing to reverse breathing i.e. pulling in your tummy as you breathe in and letting your tummy go as you breathe out.

Because your diaphragm is a muscle, you can train it like any other muscle to become stronger and helping you retain that good diaphragmatic breathing even when pushed to your limit. POWERbreathe targets your inspiratory muscles – not only your diaphragm but also your intercostal muscles, the tiny muscles in between your ribs, which are recruited during a slightly forced respiration.

You’ll notice when training with POWERbreathe that you have to work harder to breathe in. This is the effect of resistance training acting on your inspiratory muscles. When breathing out, POWERbreathe offers no resistance because when you exhale normally, your diaphragm and intercostals naturally relax and move back up, pushing the air from your lungs.

Breathing for singing – how POWERbreathe could assist

In this article ‘Get Your Breathing Right: The Foundation for Good Singing’, published recently in TakeLessons online, voice teacher Ben shares his tips for proper breathing for singers, as he says breathing is the foundation for all good singing.

Ben begins by talking about how your voice actually works, and then how, when singing, you need to breathe effectively as you need to take in more air than when you’re speaking in order to reach and carry notes.

Ben offers 3 techniques that singers should consider:

1. Breathe to expand, not to raise
2. Expand your breathing capacity
3. Add a tone

Both points 1 and 2 above should help you, as a singer, achieve point 3, adding a tone, as they both concentrate on inhaling as much air as possible into the diaphragm and filling the useable area of your lungs to their fullest capacity. As you learn to breath in more air, you’ll find you’ll have more air to ration out during your exhale.

This is where POWERbreathe can help. Because POWERbreathe is an Inspiratory Muscle Training device, it helps you to breathe in more air by exercising the breathing muscles in one simple operation. By just breathing in through the device against an adjustable resistance for 30 breaths twice a day the breathing muscles, mainly the diaphragm and intercostals, are subjected to a training stimulus which exercises them, improving their strength and stamina and enabling you to take deeper breaths.

The article summarises by suggesting that “If you’re having trouble figuring out the right way to breathe, a voice teacher can observe your process and help you identify the breathing muscles you need to utilize. You’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to achieve your vocal goals when you just learn to breathe!” This is great advice!

Check out POWERbreathe breathing exercises for singers >

How POWERbreathe Works >

POWERbreathe Vocal Performance Case Study

Image from Mountview Academy website

Jon Trevor, TV Expert at Sit-up Channels and Show Business Personal Trainer at Fit4ThePart, led a two-year trial with Dialect Dialogue and Voice Coach, Rick Lipton, at leading UK Drama Academy, Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, using POWERbreathe inspiratory muscle training as a platform for singers and performers to help enhance their vocal performance.

The trial involved a bespoke combination of physical exercises combined with Inspiratory Muscle Training with POWERbreathe to see if it enhanced the performers’ vocals.

“We found that IMT (Inspiratory Muscle Training) did indeed have a positive effect on vocal performance, in activating the soft pallet and helping participants to identify and control intra-abdominal pressure,” reported Jon Trevor.

Having worked with the students for two years, Jon found that specific POWERbreathe training helped with breath control which in turn resulted in an improvement in vocal ability and vocal performance, “in more ways than just on a physical plain”.

“Having uncontrolled stronger breathing muscles can blow the vocal folds, which is not good for a singer, so my programme is a physical programme designed specifically for singers in combination with IMT that incorporates the learning curve of controlled breath support.”

Inspiratory muscle training with POWERbreathe:

  • 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)
  • May affect the intrinsic laryngeal muscles which control the action of the larynx

One of the three mechanisms of voice production is the Air Pressure System which involves the diaphragm, intercostal muscles, ribs, abdominal muscles and lungs. They help in voice production by providing air and by controlling the pressure of that air.

Learning to control your breath will help to control your voice, and by strengthening the breathing muscles used in the Air Pressure System for voice production, you’ll improve your ability to control your breathing. By incorporating POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training (IMT) into your vocal exercise routine, you’ll help make full use of your lungs, and how well you inhale will affect how well you exhale.

Read more about how POWERbreathe can benefit music and singing , or if you’re already using POWERbreathe to help with your vocal training then please leave a comment here or on the POWERbreathe Forum, Facebook or Twitter as we’d love to hear from you. You can also read about how POWERbreathe has been used by other singers and musicians in our Performing Arts blog.

POWERbreathe features on TV programme ‘Music Station’ in Japan

‘Music Station’ is a Japanese television programme that’s broadcast weekly and is where many Japanese groups and singers make their debut performance. It was sheer good fortune that someone from Entry Japan, our POWERbreathe friend and distributor in Japan, happened to be watching the programme when Japanese singer and heart-throb Yuya Tegoshi appeared alongside a picture of the POWERbreathe he uses!

Yuya Tegosh, aged 25, is a member of the pop group NEWS, Japan’s answer to One Direction, and self-proclaimed worst dancer, but he is considered one of the best, if not the best, singer in the group.

In 2006 he and a band mate formed the singing duo Tegomass. Together they recorded a song entirely in English which they released as a single in Sweden – it reached no. 12 in the Swedish Charts!

Listen to Tegomass’s most recent single, Sayonara ni Sayonara.

‘Music Station’ is similar to the UK’s Top of the Pops and we’re delighted to see rising star Yuya Tegoshi performing and talking about POWERbreathe. Sadly we’re unable to find a video clip of the programme but do have a photograph of the actual moment Yuya appeared during broadcasting talking about his POWERbreathe (see above).

Best wishes goes to Yuya, NEWS and Tegomass, and a big thank you to Entry Japan for sharing this news with us all.

For more fantastic news about POWERbreathe for singers, have a look at Fakhrul Razi’s success at this year’s World Championships of Performing Arts in Hollywood.

Find out how POWERbreathe could be beneficial as part of your vocal exercises and vocal warm-up, or if you’re a singer and are already using POWERbreathe to help with breath control, then please leave a comment here or on the POWERbreathe Forum, Facebook or Twitter as we’d love to hear from you. You can also read more about POWERbreathe and the use of Inspiratory Muscle Training in Performing Arts on our blog.

Congratulations to Fakhrul Razi – Gold & Silver Medal Winner at WCOPA

We’re delighted to announce Brunei singer-songwriter and POWERbreathe user, Fakhrul Razi’s success at this year’s World Championships of Performing Arts in Hollywood.

Fakhrul won no less than 5 medals:

  • • GOLD – Male Vocal Open – 30&Over
  • • GOLD – Male Vocal Original Works – 30&Over
  • • GOLD – Male Vocal R&B/Soul/Jazz – 30&Over
  • • SILVER – Male Vocal Broadway – 30&Over
  • • SILVER – Male Vocal Pop – 30&Over

Not only was Fakhrul recognised for his vocal talent but also for his song-writing abilities, as his original song, ‘Senyuman Gelapmu’ was the overall winner in the original work category.

Fakhrul was heard to say, “I did the best that I could and may this be just the beginning of a productive adventure for the creative industry of Brunei.”

We’d like to congratulate Fakhrul on this wonderful success, and we look forward to hearing from him about his POWERbreathe training and his future successes. If you too would like to congratulate Fakhrul then please feel free to leave a comment here.

POWERbreathe goes to Hollywood

Our POWERbreathe friend and distributor in Brunei, Sabah and Sarawak, Armtirix Enterprise, have released some very exciting news about top local singer, Fakhrul Razi.

Fakhrul Razi is an independent Brunei singer-songwriter and TV host and has been performing in shows and at events in Brunei and Internationally since 2004. He has a massive following in Indonesia and Malaysia, and when you hear his voice, you’ll know why.

Listen to a few of Fakhrul Razi’s tracks here on ReverbNation.

Armtrix provided Fakhrul with a POWERbreathe Plus Level 2 (MR) to, as Fakhrul put it “help me hit that note cause it helps to strengthen the lung muscle so I can sing better.”

Fakhrul is one of three aspiring talents selected to represent Brunei in the Vocals, Instrumental and Acting Categories at the World Championships of Performing Arts (WCOPA) in Hollywood. The WCOPA is the only international performing arts talent competition and educational experience of its kind held annually in Hollywood, CA, and each year countries from across the world send their best and most outstanding talent to the event. Fakhrul, entered for the Vocals category, and others will face a huge contest of skills to see who is the most accomplished in the world.

Fakhrul and others will be in Hollywood for two weeks (the championships take place July 12th – 21st, 2013), joining in on workshops designed to help them master their individual skills, before competing on stage.

We’re just hoping that in his excitement Fakhrul will have remembered to take his POWERbreathe with him, as like any form of exercise, warming-up is essential, and the vocal folds (vocal cords) are no exception. They need to be warmed up just like any muscle before they can work at an optimum rate. The work that scientists undertook with singers supported the notion that using POWERbreathe as part of a vocal exercise warm-up could enhance the ability to generate tension in the vocal folds and therefore increase vocal range.

For Fakhrul, who decided to try POWERbreathe to help him “hit that note…so he can sing better,” POWERbreathe will help him make full use of his lungs. Learning to control his breath will help him control his voice, and the aim of breathing exercises for breath control is to inhale as much as possible, as quickly as possible, which is what POWERbreathe training does. The point of this is so that the singer, Fakhrul, will then be able to release his breath in a controlled manner while singing. The other benefit Fakhrul will find from training with POWERbreathe is that his breathing muscles will become stronger which in turn will help him propel his voice when he needs volume, and then have the strength to control his breath during the quieter notes.

POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training will help all singers:

  • Enhance the ability to inflate the lungs (take deeper breaths)
  • Enhance the ability to control the breath
  • Enhance the ability to sustain forceful breathing (breathing does not become fatigued)

Everyone from POWERbreathe would like to wish Fakhrul all the best in his competition, and we’ll keep you posted on his progress. If you’d like to leave your well-wishes for Fakhrul then please feel free to leave a comment here.

Read more about how POWERbreathe could prove beneficial as part of your vocal exercises and vocal warm-up, or if you’re a singer and are already using POWERbreathe to help with breath control, then please leave a comment here or on the POWERbreathe Forum as we’d love to hear from you. You can also read more about POWERbreathe and the use of Inspiratory Muscle Training in Performing Arts on our blog.

Laryngeal Movements During Inspiratory Muscle Training in Healthy Subjects

The Journal of Voice has just published online (17th May 2013), a study that looked at Laryngeal Movements During Inspiratory Muscle Training in Healthy Subjects.

As Inspiratory Muscle Training has been used to treat patients with exercise-induced vocal cord dysfunction, the theory behind this being the close relationship between the diaphragm and the posterior cricoarytenoid muscle, the study aimed to substantiate this theory by performing laryngoscopy in healthy subjects during standardized Inspiratory Muscle Training programs.

Conclusions showed that Inspiratory Muscle Training can produce laryngeal abduction in healthy subjects, and training programs may conceivably contribute positively in patients suffering from laryngeal adduction during exercise.

Here’s the Article in Press, the Abstract for which can be found online at the Journal of Voice.

Laryngeal Movements During Inspiratory Muscle Training in Healthy Subjects

Authors:
Astrid Sandnes, Tiina Andersen, Magnus Hilland, Thor Andre Ellingsen, Thomas Halvorsen, John-Helge Heimdal, Ola Drange Røksund

Summary

Background
Inspiratory muscle training (IMT) has been used to treat patients with exercise-induced vocal cord dysfunction (VCD); the theoretical basis being the close relationship between the diaphragm and the posterior cricoarytenoid muscle, which is the main abductor of the larynx. Before launching a treatment protocol in patients with VCD, we aimed to substantiate this theory by performing laryngoscopy in healthy subjects during standardized IMT programs.

Methods
Twenty healthy volunteers at mean age 24 years were examined with video-recorded continuous transnasal flexible laryngoscopy while performing standardized training programs using a resistive loading IMT device (Respifit S). All subjects were exposed to two modes of training, that is, the resistance set to generate mouth pressures ≥80% of the maximal attainable inspiratory mouth pressure (PImax) and 60–80% of PImax. Laryngeal movements were scored in retrospect from the video recordings by a senior laryngologist.

Results
At pressure settings of ≥80% of PImax, laryngeal movements could not be assessed in one subject. Abduction was observed in 10 (53%) subjects, six to a maximal extent and four to a moderate extent. At pressure settings of 60–80% of PImax, abduction was observed in 18 (90%) subjects, seven to a maximal extent and 11 to a moderate extent.

Conclusions
IMT can produce laryngeal abduction in healthy subjects, and training programs may conceivably contribute positively in patients suffering from laryngeal adduction during exercise. Individual response patterns varied between subjects and individualized programs seem crucial for effect. Use of high resistances seemed to be counterproductive.

Further evidence in Respiratory muscle strength training applications (which looked at the handful of studies discussing the use of strengthening techniques for the voice-disordered population), revealed how inspiratory muscle strength training showed promise for use with upper airway disorders including abductor vocal fold paralysis and paradoxical vocal cord dysfunction.

The purpose of this study, Inspiratory Muscle Training in Exercise-Induced Paradoxical Vocal Fold Motion, was to determine if IMT would result in increased inspiratory muscle strength, reduced perception of exertional dyspnea and improved measures of maximal exercise effort in an athlete with exercise-induced paradoxical vocal fold motion (PVFM). At end of the study, the findings suggested that Inspiratory Muscle Training may be a promising treatment approach for athletes with exercise-induced PVFM.

If you’re already using the POWERbreathe Inspiratory Muscle Training device to help with a voice or speech disorder, then please leave a comment here or on the POWERbreathe Forum as we’d love to hear from you. Read more about why IMT is a useful adjunct to your breathing exercises and breathing technique for Performing Arts. You might also find our blog for Singers and Vocal Exercises blog to be of interest too.

Vocal exercises for the perfect singing voice

There are people who are born with the talent to sing, there are those who struggle to sing but still, vocal exercises are needed in order to be a good singer. These exercises are needed to develop the singing voice and in order to carry a good tune. But what are these exercises? And are they easy enough to do?

The answer to both these questions is yes; these vocal training exercises are easy to follow and are very effective in terms of helping a person sing very well. Included in this kind of exercise are respiratory exercises, pronunciation and voice exercises. It can range from easy to difficult. These exercises will help you have a smooth and powerful voice, extend your vocal range and also help you sustain your voice.

Warm up exercises like singing in middle range voice, then decrease to low range and finally to a high range. Spend as much time as possible, at least 10 minutes on each range and do not overdo it. Stressing and pronouncing your vowels correctly can do the trick. Sing a song from ‘do’ up to ‘so’ in order to practice the flexibility of your voice. If you have pitch problems, practicing from do-re-mi can remedy this problem.

Breathing as we all know can help a lot in our singing. In singing, breathing from the diaphragm can increase and extend vocal power. It also helps in the quality of the voice. You can hit the right notes by breathing from the diaphragm. After singing, it is good to have a cool down exercise like lip rolling. This can help in avoiding strain to your voice.

Continue doing these vocal exercises. In time you will be able to sing well and impress more people. Singing can be learned and developed. Given the right vocal exercises and the right attitude, surely a good singing voice can be achieved. Practice as they say makes perfect, so just keep on practicing to keep on developing your voice.

Breathing techniques for singers

One of the biggest challenges any singer faces is learning how to breathe correctly. As if that is not hard enough they also need to know how to control their breathing so it is used to optimum effect when singing.

From birth our breathing is naturally correct. For example, a baby can scream, yell and breathe using their lungs with optimum effect because they are doing this without a conscious thought. However, as we start to grow older some people become lazy in their habits and only use the upper part of their lungs – they take a shallow breath instead of a normal one.

To understand how correct breathing and breath control works, first you need to understand the process that it uses to operate.

Surrounding your lungs is a muscle system called the diaphragm which is attached to the lower ribs on the sides, bottom and to the back, acting as an inhalation device. When you breathe in the muscles lower, displacing the stomach and intestines. When you breathe out the diaphragm helps the abdominal muscles control how quickly the breath is exhaled.

If you breathe out quickly, the diaphragm does nothing but when you breathe out very slowly the diaphragm resists the action of the abdominal muscles. A singer learns to use this muscle system to control the breath as it is being exhaled.

Hold a finger close to your lips and breathe out slowly, the breath should be warm and moist and you should notice the action of the diaphragm as you exhale. This is the correct amount of breath used when singing normally. A singer does not need to ‘force’ or ‘push’ air through the vocal chords to produce a good strong sound, doing so creates too much pressure against the chords, preventing them from operating correctly which can cause damage to the voice.

The stomach area should move naturally inward toward the end of the breath, the stomach should not be ‘sucked in’ as it prevents the diaphragm from working effectively. Instead the abdominal area should remain expanded to the level it was when you inhaled and allowed to gradually decrease naturally at the end of the breath.

This is where the ‘control’ comes into play – the singer expands the lungs by inhaling and ‘controls’ the amount of air expelled when singing a note by allowing the muscle support system to remain expanded – this doesn’t mean the stomach is pushed out, rather that it is blown up like a balloon when the air goes in and the singer slows down the natural rate at which it goes down. In most people the breathing is shallow and only the top half of the lungs are used – breathing correctly uses the whole of the lungs so that more air is available, the singer then uses the natural action of the muscles (diaphragm and abdominals) surrounding the lungs to control the amount of air that is exhaled when singing a note.

Good breath support during singing and speech requires good posture, abdominal breathing and breathing during natural pauses. Breathing techniques and correct support does not require great physical strength – although having toned abdominal muscles helps. Remember the diaphragm doesn’t exhale for you – just helps to control the amount of air exhaled and if done correctly your vocal exercises routine will become second nature.