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Breathing for Singing: Common Questions Answered
September 2, 2014
2:50 am
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Marnell Sample
Philadelphia, PA
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In this vid, I address some common questions I've received regarding breathing. The questions are:

1. How much air should I breathe?
2. Should I breathe through the nose or the mouth?
3. When should I breathe?

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

September 2, 2014
7:22 pm
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IAm
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Hi Marnell! Nice video!

As a person with persistent, annoying sinus issues, I find that sniffing during my initial warm-up phase helps to stimulate the sinuses and help break up some blockage. Sniffing coupled with some nasal-ish humming will get me closer to clear, without the nasty side-effects of decongestants/allergy medicines.

That said, there are days when breathing through the nose simply isn't happening for me, but I don't want to let that tamper with my support. No sir!

An interesting parallel that I have discovered, when rapid breath through the nose isn't possible, is a *fast* sucking in through the lips. This seems to stimulate expansion evenly and consistently. Not sure if that will work for anyone else, but it really seems to work for me, *especially* in songs with lots of sustained phrases with tiny pauses in-between them.

"There is still a future with music, because people want music." - MJK

September 3, 2014
9:59 pm
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Marnell Sample
Philadelphia, PA
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Hi IAm,

Thanks for watching. You bring up an interesting point about humming helping to clear blocked sinuses. I think I read something some time ago that said humming help to release nitric oxide which helps to open up blocked sinuses. Breathing through the nose (as opposed to the mouth) also helps facilitate the nitric oxide release.

But, on those days where you just can't get your sinuses unblocked, breathe through the nose. You do what you have to do in order to sing well. Breathing in through the mouth is ok once you get out of the habit of trying to take in a ton of air. When I breathe through the mouth, I just let my jaw hang passively (so the teeth are slightly separated from each other, not even a full centimeter), and take in the same volume of air I would as if breathing through the nose. I'm not sure if this is the same as the method you are describing.

September 3, 2014
10:42 pm
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IAm
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Marnell Sample said

Thanks for watching. You bring up an interesting point about humming helping to clear blocked sinuses. I think I read something some time ago that said humming help to release nitric oxide which helps to open up blocked sinuses. Breathing through the nose (as opposed to the mouth) also helps facilitate the nitric oxide release.

Absolutely, my pleasure!
I tend to get congested overnight, and since I have worked into a habit of morning warm-ups, I had to find a natural way to get clear. This seems to work for me with a fair amount of consistency. Interesting to hear a bit of chemistry, as to why!

But, on those days where you just can't get your sinuses unblocked, breathe through the nose. You do what you have to do in order to sing well. Breathing in through the mouth is ok once you get out of the habit of trying to take in a ton of air. When I breathe through the mouth, I just let my jaw hang passively (so the teeth are slightly separated from each other, not even a full centimeter), and take in the same volume of air I would as if breathing through the nose. I'm not sure if this is the same as the method you are describing.

Oh yes, agreed! I will certainly breathe nasally when possible. If there's enough space between phrases when I'm congested to get me back to ~75% capacity through the nose, then I'll certainly shoot for it since I'll have a better chance of the blockage draining, not to mention the added protection from airborne nastiness that the nose provides. But if I HAVE to resort to the mouth...

The technique I'm referring to is something I read here:
Update! on Breath Management - by Shirlee Emmons
The article is an interesting read; but to save everyone time, the gist of this is a quick sucking in. One way to get the sensation is to place your thumb or knuckle in front of your lips, and try to suck air rapidly from in-front of the finger. Kind of like projecting a punch through a target. And absolutely yes, the jaw is best relaxed while doing this. Smile

EDIT: by "In front of the finger" I mean from the side of the finger opposite the face; in other words, you pretend that no air exists between your lips and your finger, and all of the air exists on the side of your finger that's not facing your mask.

"There is still a future with music, because people want music." - MJK

September 4, 2014
12:06 am
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Phil Moufarrege
Japan
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Yeah if you suck in the air like you are sucking through a straw the sensation will be similar to a nose breath. It won't have the added health benefits but will definitely not cause any harm to your singing.

@PhilMoufarrege
Online Vocal Coach, Singer/Songwriter
Grow-The-Voice.com | PHILMOUFARREGE.com

September 4, 2014
9:19 pm
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daniel formica
San luis Obispo, Ca
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In this video i address a simple way of understanding support/ breathing

list=PLoWcfXjHDXqhdL_N_0yO5o-6HqCFX32on

September 5, 2014
1:48 pm
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Felipe Carvalho
Brazil
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Both videos top notch Marnell and Dan.

And these are such simple things sometimes misinterpreted to a point where it defeats the very purpose of doing it.

Felipe

Felipe Carvalho
Singer and Voice Teacher in Brasil - São Paulo

September 5, 2014
2:56 pm
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quentin
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https://app.box.com/s/wymbn3lyq70kcm1dlv47
Ok guys, I got a question about support. I have remarked that it is very difficult for me to maintain my mixed voice on lower passagio notes. I feel like I uave to support even more than is full chest voice.

To show you what i mean here is a clip of my singing from chest to light mix. Listen to the phrase "love is all can you hear the call". I have to support like crazy. Its an ood recording but you got the idea.

September 6, 2014
2:28 am
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Phil Moufarrege
Japan
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quentin said

https://app.box.com/s/wymbn3lyq70kcm1dlv47
Ok guys, I got a question about support. I have remarked that it is very difficult for me to maintain my mixed voice on lower passagio notes. I feel like I uave to support even more than is full chest voice.

To show you what i mean here is a clip of my singing from chest to light mix. Listen to the phrase "love is all can you hear the call". I have to support like crazy. Its an ood recording but you got the idea.

You're sounding great on that song lately Quentin!
What is making this way harder for you is how you're still breaking the phrases into staccato sounds. Minimizing that vocal tract shifting and getting more legato on those phrases so they feel like one vowel is what is gonna help you the biggest. Because you are singing some high notes on some tough vowels. If you focus on their modifications you can make everyone think you're singing the words but with way less effort on your part.

awesome Dio grit too ha ha!

Another thing to try is simply using less sound to get THE SAME SOUND, and making sure the tension is only in the lower part of your belly. You will surprise yourself that you can get the same sound output with less if you focus on retaining the sound (glottal compression).

@PhilMoufarrege
Online Vocal Coach, Singer/Songwriter
Grow-The-Voice.com | PHILMOUFARREGE.com

September 9, 2014
1:52 pm
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TommyTheHat
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Great videos. So much is made of support and I always believe I am supporting well therefore I don't pay any mind to it. If I had to pay attention to all the fanfare paid to support I'd start wondering if I'm missing something. Laugh

I sing, I have enough air,I can hold a note and keep it strong or I can do the same note just as full but softly. So I try not to get too caught up in all the search for the "magic" of support. It has become like I have an automatic refill mechanism inside me. It also has a computer chip. It knows when I need air and how much based on the upcoming phrase. The lungs open and refill and I'm good to go even before I know I'm going!!! It just happens. The mind of no mind!

Daniel, I like your analogy of the golfer. I used to use a similar analogy with punching. Bigger muscles don't equate to a harder punch. It ain't about strength. Technique brother.
But the key (imo) is to absorb the technique and then forget it. If you constantly focus on "technique" you never own it. It has to be there but not seen.

"It's not how many notes you know. It's what you do with them."

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