How Do I Sing from My Diaphragm Not My Throat?

VocalCoachKen September 17, 2011 8


Hi! I’m trying out for chorus at school, and I REALLY want to know how to sing from the diaphragm. Even if I try, I only feel my throat vibrate, not my diaphragm. Any tips?

P.S. I do feel my stomach go up when I place my hand there, but how can I let out the air so that way it’ll sound like I’m singing from my diaphragm, not my throat?

-Sandy

Hey Sandy,

The first thing I want to point out is that your throat is going to vibrate whether you’re singing from your diaphragm or not. Vibration is normal, as resonance is what creates the fullness of the sound while singing. Tension however, is not, which is what often is present when we’re not singing from the diaphragm.

So, how do we sing from the diaphragm?

First off, we breathe deeply into the body. I like to imagine that I’m breathing all the way down to the ground. The other thing I try to do while breathing in is expand around the lower area of the rib cage. This indicates that I have a more than enough breath, and the diaphragm is flexed so that I have control over the flow of that air.

That being said, let me describe why we breathe from the diaphragm in the first place.

Our biggest goal in breathing from the diaphragm is to be able to create a steady, consistent flow of air. The diaphragm is a muscle that’s attached to the bottom of the lungs.

When you inhale and press your diaphragm down, you have control over the amount of air that exits your body and you don’t have to regulate it at your throat. When you breathe into your chest while not utilizing the diaphragm, you’ll have to use your vocal cords to control the rate at which the air exits your body, which often causes unnecessary tension as well as shortness of breath.

All that being said, simply breathing from your diaphragm isn’t enough. You also have to continue the downward push of the diaphragm in order to regulate the amount of air exiting the body (this may sound gross, but if you were to imagine what it feel like when you’re going to the bathroom… not #1… you’d get a good idea of how this feels). That being said, if you don’t continue to moderate the rate the air exits your body with the diaphragm by that continual push down, then you might as well not have breathed from the diaphragm in the first place.

So, now that we know what we’re doing with the diaphragm, how we can we make sure we’re breathing properly? Simple.

 

  1. Watch yourself in the mirror. If you see your shoulders go up while you breathe, then you’re not utilizing your diaphragm.
  2. Breathe deep into the body, and continue that sensation of a downward push while you’re singing in order to regulate the flow of air.
  3. When in doubt, you can lie on the ground and place a book on your stomach to ensure that it’s expanding while you breathe. Also, you can use the same sensation you get while going to the bathroom as mentioned earlier.
  4. Finally, if you’re feeling pressure in your throat underneath your cords before you start singing, then you’re breathing in too much air.

I know this was a long message, but I hope this helps and good luck!

 

Best,

Vocal Coach Ken Taylor

ps – If you like this, click the “Like” or +1 Button to share it with others. Want to share your own thoughts on the topic (even if they’re not in line with mine), comment below.

You can also check out this article out about how to breath and sing correctly- Breathing and Singing

8 Comments »

  1. Sandy September 20, 2011 at - Reply

    Thanks so much! I’m also wondering, does your vibrato really develop when you’re 25? My music teacher told me that, and could it be possible to get your vibrato at a young age? If it is, how can it develop?

    • VocalCoachKen September 29, 2011 at - Reply

      I hate to say that someone is just straight up wrong, but I certainly don’t agree that your vibrato won’t develop until you turn a quarter of a century old. You are getting closer to your vocal prime, so I can see why maybe she felt that way, but I feel as though that’s really more of a cop out than anything. I’ve written an article on vibrato not that long ago, but evidently I didn’t post it to the site. I’ll make a note to contact you once I find it and share it with you.

  2. Junkinu September 21, 2011 at - Reply

    thanks 4 the tips..it was really helpful 4 me.tq.

    • VocalCoachKen September 29, 2011 at - Reply

      You’re more than welcome! Glad they helped!

  3. Brett February 9, 2012 at - Reply

    Hi, I’ve been doing different exercises from YouTube and all around the Internet for months and yet to find a break through with my voice. When I sing I use my throat a lot and my larynx raises up. When I use my diaphram I feel like I push down but it doesn’t raise my note, the only way I feel like I can raise to higher notes is shooting my larynx up or I flip into falsetto. And I’m starting to get frustrated after a few song I just go do somthing else. I can’t afford a vocal teacher so anything that will indeed help will be much apreciated thanks!

    Sincerely
    Brett

    • VocalCoachKen February 25, 2012 at - Reply

      Practice warm ups on lip flutters… I outline how to do this in this video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p_-FUztYMMo. Start watching at about 1:10. Flutters can help a singer get through their bridges more easily. If you find that your larynx still rises, add a little bit of a hooty or dopey tone to the flutter, and that’ll help balance the larynx. Do that and you’ll experience what it’s like to transition your bridges without hiking the larynx.

  4. Sherry Whitefeather July 23, 2012 at - Reply

    How in the world can I sing And push down on my diaphram (like going to potty) at the same time. I cannot do these two things at the same time.

    • VocalCoachKen August 3, 2012 at - Reply

      I’d imagine most people would feel the same way initially about patting their head and rubbing their stomach. Keep working at it… you’ll get it down. :-)

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