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ArtistWorks Vocal School Lessons: Basics: Natural Breath Control

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You may have been around the singing block
a, a few times and heard people talk about
breath control and
how important it is and, and various
that you might, they feel, need to do in
order to.
Breathe better or manage your breath
better as you sing.
But let's take a look at why.
And from there it will lead us into how.
Again, the whole idea behind this is,
how does the body designed to work to make
And I, as I as I researched all of this,
I had a basic idea with which I looked to
see if it was correct as I studied
the anatomy of, of, or the physiology of
the voice, I went off of the idea that.
Singing is for expression, for
communicating and that when we talk,
we don't need to know what's happening in
order to make sound and use our voice.
So, shouldn't it be that way when we sing?
Like you don't have to know what happens
with the body in order to sing or talk.
The only thing is that when you're singing
you're taking the elements that occur
naturally when you're speaking, and you're
asking them to work a lot more for you.
And very specifically so, and we are
taking all of these elements and
we want to enhance them because we are
looking for greater quality, control, fu,
fuller use when you speak, I doubt if you
only speak on one pitch.
Hello my name is.
You use different pitches and the more
expressive you are usually the more
pitches or mel, or notes you use in your
The difference between talking and singing
is that singing includes
a calculated, even if it's on the fly and
you're ad-libbing,
it's a calculated use of notes in a
certain order.
That work together, with the har,
harmonic base that you're singing along
with the chord structure and such.
And when you're speaking it's random.
So, it's the same elements though.
Okay, so where does this lead us?
I felt, and still have found to be true,
that the body is basically designed to
serve us.
And we'll get into this more a little,
just a little bit later.
But what this really means is that
the muscle actions that need to occur in
order to make the sounds of your voice.
Can happen without you charging energy
into them.
Now let's take a look at,
a little bit more about how the vocal
folds work to make sound.
I've got three pictures I'd like you to
take a look at.
And these are three different stages of
positions of the vocal folds.
As you're singing from around your
speaking voice range
to midway or a little bit, a little bit
past midway
in let's call it a three or so octave
range, maybe a four octave range.
And then the third picture shows.
A much, much higher note, or series of
Okay, I'm gonna explain this a little bit
See where it says, Front of Throat in the
So the back ends which show these little
tiny kind of round things,
those are called the arytenoid cartilage
and they are like your tuning pegs if
you're familiar with any kind of string
instruments, the tuning pegs twist and
they like pull the string.
Tighter and, and as the strings gradate
they're thinner, when you pluck the
strings, say of a guitar,
it's gonna give you you a certain note,
because it vibrates at a certain speed.
In order to sing higher your vocal folds
need to stretch more and thin more.
And you'll notice how they close up.
So, they're closing from the back forward.
This is how they're designed to do their
You don't have to make them do it, but you
do need to exercise them doing it so
that they can fulfill their automatic
functions with greater ease and
precision, and we'll be getting into vocal
exercises that help you accomplish that.
But I want you to get the basics of this
understanding because
what I'm telling you and if, you probably
need to watch this video a few times and
let it all sink in and look at the
pictures and figure this out for yourself.
I'm not really, you know, getting into a
complicated thing.
I know this is anatomy.
Who wants to study anatomy, but hey, this
is your instrument.
And it's all concealed, so we need to look
at a few basics, and
then you will have a discovery.
I guarantee you, you will be very happy
Okay, I'm being your cheerleader again.
So, notice again, that they close from the
Forward and that's creating shorter
lengths that are going to vibrate.
And they will be able to vibrate faster.
The main thing in, in taking a look at
these three basic
pictures of the vocal folds making sound
is that.
I want you take a look at the,
the, the far left one where you see the
black line going the whole way.
That doesn't mean that, that's a big gape
or a hole.
That's just the vocal folds lying side by
Now take a look at the far right one where
there's just this teensy little slit.
And that's the amount of vocal fold that
are, is gonna vibrate for
a much higher note, you know like!
Around there, at versus!
Something like that for the, for the
longer ones.
So, figure this is, just, just take a look
at this.
Would you think that.
To vibrate the whole length of each of the
two vocal folds compare to just
the tiny little bit that's gonna vibrate
for the higher note that they need
the same amount of air vibrating them or
might it be different, what do you think?
Would it be the same amount?
Remember that that air, if it pushes
through your vocal folds,
it's gonna push them apart.
And that's an exhale position.
They will not be able to vibrate.
So the, the amount of air has to just
stimulate their vibration.
Okay, now that you've thought about it a
little bit, I will give you the answer.
The vocal folds need varying amounts of
Depending on their particular position in
the note as a result that you're singing.
Take a look at my fingers.
So here's the vocal folds.
This is your Adam's Apple and
the air is going to come up to them and
trigger their vibration.
It's kind of difficult to do with fingers.
But hey, it doesn't need to do that.
It needs to come underneath them and as I
mentioned before,
it doesn't dry up of course.
That airstream transforms into vibration.
It, it, it, it's like a, a caterpillar
turning into a butterfly.
So butterfly, your voice is a butterfly.
[LAUGH] okay.
So, if you're a hard rock singer, maybe
it's not a butterfly.
But at any rate, so that's the basic
Now, next question.
Well, at least the next statement who
wants to think about breathing while
you're singing, you know?
That would be like you have to tell your
Oh, please talk amongst yourself, I'm busy
figuring out how to breathe.
The body in fact is designed to handle
these variations of air for
you automatically.
The key is how is it designed to do that
and is there anything
you need to do to get out of it's way and
help it to do that.
One last thing in this lesson and then
we'll take it further.
I'm gonna give you two different words.
[LAUGH] One has to do with breathing, so
that's the word,
breathing and the other is airstream
When you're breathing, the vocal folds are
There's no purpose for that air.
It will call that pushed-out air.
The body just wants to get rid of it.
It's considered waste material, basically.
You take in the oxygen.
It goes into your bloodstream.
Well, it goes into your lungs, then it
transforms into your bloodstream.
It does all these wonderful things and
what's left is considered waste and
the body wants to get rid of it.
It's not going to be used for any purpose.
You decide to speak or sing that airstream
takes on a role in the cause,
effect, cause, effect, ta da, your voice.
And since you've seen the difference in
the vocal folds and
their position for breathing versus vocal
sound, that's part of it.
So again, when you're, when you're making
vocal sound,
that's when your vocal folds are vibrating
and you hear voice.
The airstream needs to be just the right
amount and again,
we're going to call that a regulated
Here's your working definition for that
Regulated in this case means, a controlled
varied amount that matches up with the
needs of it's purpose.
The purpose of the airstream when you're
in this case is simply to vibrate the
vocal folds.
Yes, it happens to end up exiting your
body, but it has this very specific role.
The vocal folds have a particular need, as
we've already discussed.
Each segment of your range requires a
different amount of air.
And by the way, as you sing higher,
you do not need more air to come to them,
you need less.
Mm-hm, I'll let that sink in.
[LAUGH] So when you're singing higher, you
don't need to push out more air.
And in fact, if you do,
you're creating a problem that you then
have to figure out how to solve.
Or you end up going, oh, well I guess it's
just totally out of my range and
[SOUND] but more than likely,
your vocal folds haven't been properly
exercised to execute those notes and
you're pushing out more air than they
really need to vibrate them.
So, as you're singing up and down your
range, they need a certain amount,
then maybe less, a little more, a little
less, less, less,
less, more, less, more less, depending on
your melody.
That could be an awful lot to think about
I know neither of us were born with a
manual that said,
when you're singing this note you need to
send out this amount of air and
you have to, this is how you regulate it
with your belly or your whatever.
And who in the world wants to think about
And that was one of the things that I
ended up researching very
intensely with the idea that the body is
designed to make sound for
us and do each of the elements for us, so
how in the world is that going to be true
as far as airstream regulation.
You'll find out really soon.