After you have aligned your body so that your posture is correct it’s time to take a breath. But there’s a good way to breathe and a not so good way to breath for singing in your voice lessons. Let’s start with the not so good. Most untrained singers will take a breath by raising the chest and maybe even the shoulders when breathing in, and then dropping them back down as they exhale. This type of breathing is called clavicular breathing, because the clavicle, or collar bone, is raised and lowered as you breath and sing. Of course, if you were in voice lessons with Fox Music of Virginia Beach, this would never happen. The best breathing for singing is called abdominal breathing, and the simplest definition that we learn in voice lessons is this: Abdominal breathing is when your belly moves in and out as you breath and sing. Imagine that your body is a big balloon that needs to fill up with air. As the balloon fills up it expands. When your lungs fill up with air they expand, and as they expand your belly needs to move out of the way to make room for the expansion, so out it goes. As you exhale and your lungs deflate your belly gradually goes back in to its normal position. Of course you want to do this without any clavicular motion or shoulder involvement. During your group and private voice lessons with Fox Music of Virginia Beach we monitor this. Here is an exercise that we use in our voice lessons to help you feel abdominal breathing. Start by sitting on the edge of a chair with your feet flat on the floor. Sit up straight so that your shoulders are balanced over your hips, and your head is balance with your ears directly over your shoulders. From that position raise your arms over your head so that you feel your ribcage stretch away from your hips. Now lower your arms and relax your shoulders all the way down to your fingertips, but keep your ribcage elevated. As you continue, remember that whether you are breathing in, breathing out, holding your breath, or singing, your ribcage, needs to remain in the elevated position. If you let your sternum drop, your next breath will become an incorrect clavicular breath. Breathe out for four slow counts, completely emptying your lungs of air. Once empty, hold your breath in empty position for another four slow counts. Again be sure that your sternum remains up. By the end of the fourth count the urge to breathe will be strong, but before you breathe remember to keep your sternum up. Now allow the breath to happen naturally. If you did everything right you felt a deep abdominal breath. Notice that the inhalation was actually the relaxing part of the breath. That’s how you want all of your singing breaths to become inside and outside of your voice lessons. It will take quite a bit of practice for this to become natural and easy, and eventually you will want to do it standing up. But for now, just practice the exercise while sitting on the edge of a chair. It’s easier to feel your belly move while in a seated position. If you have any questions be sure to bring them up at any of your next group or private voice lessons.