Breath support, what is it and how do we develop it.

It is surely understood by us all, that the foundations of a building are essential in ensuring the building remains standing and functional. Well, the foundation of all good singing is breath support. But what exactly does good breath support involve?

Well, reading a number of erudite papers published on this subject, has made me realise that in order to explain what should happen in order to produce good breath support, we first need some understanding of our physiology, especially our Lungs diaphragm, inter costal muscles, and lats.
Starting with the lungs, the less than obvious information about this sponge like organ is that most of it is situated at the back of the rib cage. You will probably recall that Individuals suffering in intensive care during this virus pandemic, are often rolled over onto their tummies in order to allow the lungs to operate more freely.

The diaphragm is the primary dome shaped muscle used in respiration and is located below the lungs and heart.

Intercostal muscles are the muscles situated between the ribs and are used to expand and shrink the chest cavity

The lats are large muscles situated in the back and run from below the shoulders down to the waist and in the breathing process, are known as ‘accessory’ breathing muscles.
That’s enough biology for today.

The process of breathing is in two parts, namely inhalation, breathing in and exhalation, breathing out and all of the above muscles are used.
The inhalation is created by relaxing the diaphragm allowing it to contract from the domed shape by moving downwards I.e flattening out. At the same time the intercostal muscles pull the rib cage upwards and outwards and so enlarging the rib cavity creating a partial vaccum. The trick for singers during this process is to ensure that the diaphragm is moved down as far as possible and the rib cage is made as large as possible in order for the lungs to expand to their fullest.

Now we come to the essence of this blog. Breath support then, is the process of using these muscles for regulating the outflow of breath whilst at the same time, maintaining an even supportive pressure.

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