Lack of Air Movement

Not moving air might seem to be a good thing if we think that singing is all about controlling our breath rather than moving it out.  We might even believe we need do something with our abdominal muscles or rib cage so as to prevent the breath from escaping too rapidly.  As it turns out, lack of air movement is a common fault; definitely not a good thing. An explanation is in order.

Breath and breathing are extremely important, but not the primary focus in singing.  Our primary focus in singing is how vocal muscles are being developed and coordinated. As the main muscle systems responsible for adjusting the vocal cords for singing do their job well, then the breath does not leak out.  The breath is not controlled by some direct physical action that we do with our abdominal muscles, but is controlled by the opening and closing of the vocal cords.

Think of it like this. If there is a hole in our car tire, then the air leaks out and the tire goes flat. There is nothing one can do to fix the problem until the hole is plugged.  In a similar way, there is nothing one can do to stop wasting breath by trying to control the exit of breath with the abdomen or rib cage. All that is accomplished by this attempt at local and direct muscular activity in the torso region is an increase in the rigidity of these muscles. A domino effect then causes other muscles to be excessively rigid, including the muscles in our larynx.  

But, if appropriate exercises cause the vocal cords to properly adjust, there is no wasted or leaking out of air. We do not need to try to control the breath or hold back the air flow. Rather, we will sense that the air is actually moving out and we are riding this wave. As this air moves along with the cords coordinating and moving, there is a balance of moving air and moving muscle with a feeling of flowing freedom.  The air is no longer “dead” or “static” due to non-movement or active holding back. The air or breath is now being controlled in a more automatic way by what the main vocal muscles are doing in the throat.

We stop worrying about poking the belly out and squeezing abs. We let go and sing; riding a wave of moving air.

Allen Rascoe

about the author

Allen Rascoe Allen has been enjoying singing since he was a little kid. He officially studied voice at ECU and USC. However, he ran... Read More