Updated: Jun 11
Whenever I work with a new singer, one of the first things we focus on is breathing. After all, breathing is the foundation of singing - it's physically impossible to make a noise with your voice if you don't have any air in your lungs.
When I first started working on my breathing, I noticed two things. First, after paying no attention to my breath at all, changing the way I breathed was an extremely strange process. Secondly, I realised that I had never noticed any other singers breathing like this.
After clicking on video after video on YouTube, I soon worked out why - there's a very specific set of circumstances needed to be able to see how a singer is breathing. Firstly, it's terribly difficult to find videos where you can see a singer's abdomen while they sing - usually the camera is focused on their face, or everything's dark. Even if you can see their whole body, the singer needs to be wearing clothing that's tight enough for us to see the movement of the abdomen area - but not so tight that they can't breathe from the diaphragm.
But even if these videos are rare, they do exist - and they're great to watch if you're just starting to understand breathing. So, here's four different performances that will help you understand how breathing works when we sing.
Danny Osmond - Close Every Door to Me
For the most part, these videos are live performances, but I've made an exception here for a very simple reason; Danny Osmond is shirtless. That means you can see how he uses his diaphragm to breathe and fills the abdomen area with air instead of the chest. Watch the area between his chest and belly button closely and you'll see what I mean.
Beyoncé - Halo
You may well have seen this video before - it's one of the most popular live vocal performances on YouTube, and with good reason. But have you ever taken the time to focus on Beyoncé's breathing? It's very subtle, but if you keep an eye on the area around her belt, you'll see how it fills with air when she takes a breath.
Floor Jansen - Nemo
Unless you're a metal fan, you've probably never heard of Floor Jansen. Long story short, she's one of the most versatile singers I've ever come across. This video is a great example of breathing with your whole abdomen, including the sides. When you watch, you'll notice that her entire mid-section is swelling up every time she takes a breath.
Rihanna - Stay
You have to watch closely here, because the camera's moving around a lot. (Great for the video, but not so great for those of us trying to see Rihanna breathe.) However, if you focus on her belly you'll notice how it fills when she breathes. Also, there's a glorious side angle at around 1:10mins that shows not only her belly, but her back expanding.
And that's it! I'd love to show you more, but unfortunately these are the only good breathing videos I've ever managed to find. If you know of any, please let me know, I'd love to add it to the list!
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