Support, Breathing and Phonation – Part 6

Phonation and Support

Before continuing, this is a very, very basic approach into it, the idea is to allow you to feel how it’s like to produce a well supported note while coordinating your breathing to do it.

The training goes further, and there are other aspects for support to happen properly when the energy demands are higher. Still, the fundamental idea is the same, so work this one carefully and aim to do exactly what is said.

To begin, you absolutely need the circular breathing control I mentioned before. If you still can’t do that, go back as many steps as necessary, and figure it out. Don’t cheat, the movement must really feel as one thing, and you must control the tempo at will.

Now, AFTER the control is present and the movement is continuous, do it without the metronome, and just pay attention to the moment you go from inhale to exhale, and slow down during it. Slowing down will probably prove to be more difficult, but no matter, just do it. Notice the sensation, it’s a kind of “stall”, a “pause”, however you want to call it. The thing is, muscles remain active.

Do it again, while plugging your ears, breathing silently, notice that the feeling becomes even stronger. Work on this for a while, and map it down well.

After you get it well-defined in your head, keep your ears plugged, do the same circular breathing motion a few times, and then, when you are confident it’s going on fine, you will start humming on MMM, at the EXACT MOMENT the coordination begins to change into exhale. So when you reach the “pause” area, you begin the MMM.

This M, in its turn, should be spoken quality, and low on the voice. Thinking of MEE may help. Also, when you begin the sound of MMM, don’t let changes happen to the position you get from “silent breathing”. You mouth and throat should feel the same, just close your mouth and begin the sound.

And do it just once. Then relax, repeat the whole thing. Go back to the reference as many times as necessary. Remember, this is coordination, the key thing here is timing, the attack on the MMM should be at the exact same moment you begin exhaling.

Notice that doing this, you will get a SLIGHT sensation of that “stall”/”pause” through the whole time you are making the MMM, you will also feel that your whole body is working to produce the note, instead of just neck up. This sensation, means that the coordination is now involving your breathing too, and at least at this point in the range, this is how support will feel like.

It should be easy and comfortable to produce the note in this manner, and you should achieve a good volume without a problem.

Unfortunately, this is also where the teacher interference starts to become really important. Record yourself and pay attention if:

– Your timing is precise between starting to release air/attack of the note;
– Your breathing is well-regulated and you are following the idea of the previous posts;
– Your humming is not breathy;
– Your humming is not pressed;
– It should ALWAYS be comfortable;
– You may feel you are working more for it, and indeed you are. But you should not feel anything on your throat. If there is effort there so low on the range, most likely there is something wrong going on. Make sure that you are coming from the silent breathing coordination.

Having this sensation, the little “stall”, “pause”, “body envolvement”, however it feels for you defined and under control, practice doing the circular motion exercises and keeping it through the whole time you are releasing air. But relax when inhaling.

But how does this help you support? Why does this help regulating the flow?

Well this is one form of organizing it, the most common one also, appoggio, support, apoio, depends on the language.

The idea is always offering some resistance to the release of air. This way you can use larger breaths without fearing overpowering the attack (larger does not mean chocking with excessive air), and you can control the flow of air by means of this resistance and the exhalation muscles (they oppose each other), so instead of worrying about [i]when[/i] to engage the abdominal muscles, they are already pushing a bit

And keep it dynamic, if necessary, go back to the circular breathing reference and get the sensation of “stall/pause/suspension” again, it should be slight, and you should be able to gauge the amount. Remember, its about control, not force.


About Felipe Carvalho

Singer and voice teacher in São Paulo - Brasil
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