As a vocalist, it’s absolutely critical that you learn how to sing from your diaphragm. This technique is essential for vocal control, vocal range, and breath support.
However, the concept of singing from your diaphragm can be a bit confusing to beginner vocalists.
In this article, we’ll explain how the diaphragm works when singing and how you can use it to your advantage.
Continue reading for a step-by-step guide on how to sing using your diaphragm successfully.
Table of Contents
What Does The Diaphragm Do?
The diaphragm is a thin, dome-shaped skeletal muscle underneath the heart and lungs. It stretches across the bottom of the ribcage, and its primary function is to push down the abdominal organs to make space for your lungs to fill with air.
When someone is singing from their diaphragm, they are flattening it, which allows them to breathe deeper and have more breath control.
How Your Diaphragm Works When Singing
Sometimes called “supporting the voice,” singing from your diaphragm is a vocal technique that uses the diaphragm to control the amount of air in the lungs while engaging the abdominal muscles.
If you notice your stomach shrinking or your shoulders and chest moving more than your abdomen, then you know you’re not singing from your diaphragm correctly.
Instead, you’re probably singing from your throat, which can eventually damage your vocal cords.
When you’re engaging the diaphragm while singing, as you inhale, your diaphragm goes down, flattens, and pulls air in. Then, as you exhale, it comes back up, relaxes, and propels air out.
Now you know what the diaphragm is and what it does, let’s learn how to use it correctly when singing.
How To Sing From Your Diaphragm (Step-By-Step)
Although the diaphragm is best known for causing hiccups, it also plays a critical role in singing. Understanding how to sing from your diaphragm is essential to sustaining notes and improving vocal tone.
So, without further ado, here’s our step-by-step guide on how to sing from your diaphragm and develop this proper singing technique.
Step 1 – Find Your Diaphragm Muscle
Anyone can learn how to sing well from their diaphragm. However, first and foremost, you must pinpoint where this muscle is located.
It can be challenging to feel it since it’s inside your body, but you can train yourself to notice it working as you breathe and sing.
To locate your diaphragm, stand up straight and place your hands at the bottom of your rib cage as you inhale and exhale. If you are unable to feel it with this method, try following these steps:
- Lie on your back on the floor.
- Place a book above your stomach.
- Inhale deeply and watch the book move down.
- Exhale and watch the book move up.
The diaphragm is the muscle that makes the book move.
Step 2 – Inhale & Exhale Into Your Diaphragm
The second thing you should learn to do is isolate your diaphragm as you breathe in and out. The best way to accomplish diaphragmatic breathing is by inhaling until you’ve reached your lung capacity.
Let your stomach expand as much as possible. Then, slowly begin to exhale as you suck your stomach in.
As you perform this technique, you will feel pressure in your diaphragm and the surrounding area.
Step 3 – Warm Up With Breathing Exercises
Once you understand how the diaphragm works, you can start strengthening the muscle with various breathing exercises to help you control your air supply.
Here are a few techniques that engage your diaphragm and prevent shallow breaths while singing:
- Balloon Exercise – To perform this exercise, simply take a deflated balloon and blow it up. Let the air out of it, and repeat the process as often as you want. This method will work your intercostal muscles and enhance your lung capacity.
- Hiss Exhale – Develop breath control by inhaling and slowly exhaling on a hiss or “sss” sound. Remember that your stomach should protrude as you inhale while your neck and shoulders stay in the same position.
- Straw Phonation – You can use this technique to reduce vocal strain, increase breath support, and relieve tension on the vocal cords. Just take a straw and place it in your mouth. Practice inhaling and exhaling through it or humming through your vocal range.
Step 4 – Use Proper Posture
Never underestimate the importance of good posture, as it plays a significant role in proper diaphragmatic singing.
When you use your diaphragm to sing, you need to take larger, longer breaths, requiring an unobstructed airway.
Stand up or sit up straight with your feet shoulder-width apart and your shoulders relaxed and rolled back.
This correct posture will open up your lungs and allow for deep breaths that produce the vocal power you’re looking for.
Step 5 – Open Your Throat
If you want to be like singers that don’t use autotune, you’ll want to make sure you sing with an open throat.
Singing requires a consistent flow of air entering the lungs and exiting out of the mouth. Therefore, any obstruction, such as poor posture or a closed throat, can result in tense, strained vocal cords.
It’s critical that you learn how to sing with an open throat, as this will help you achieve clearer, more powerful vocals and avoid vocal health issues later.
To open the throat, you must raise the soft palate and lower the larynx to create adequate space for the sound to resonate.
Two of the easiest ways to open your throat are yawning and singing while imagining there’s a ping-pong ball in your mouth.
These methods reduce tension in the jaw while lowering the larynx and widening the vocal tract. Humming and jaw-stretching exercises can also help.
Step 6 – Distinguish Between Your Voices
Everyone has two voices when they sing, the chest voice (for low notes) and the head voice (for high notes).
All the singers in the most popular music genres can switch between these voices seamlessly. And to master each voice, you must sing from your diaphragm.
When you’re singing lower notes, try not to sing them as loud as you would when you’re singing higher notes.
Doing so will improve the dynamics of your singing and prevent you from going off-key. Learning to recognize the differences between these two voices will help you hit the right notes with power and precision.
Practicing the breathing exercises we mentioned earlier, along with vocal sirens (which we’ll discuss later), can help you distinguish the different sensations of each voice.
Step 7 – Practice Articulation
The best singers of all time understand the importance of good articulation. After all, what’s the point of singing if no one can hear what you’re saying?
While improving your diaphragmatic breathing, you should also concentrate on how you’re enunciating your words.
Hard consonants (like K, P, and B) can be difficult to sing, as they can lead to tension, hinder proper breath management, and make certain words feel awkward.
However, learning how to sing from your diaphragm can help you improve your breath control, which results in a healthy vocal sound.
Certain vocal exercises like tongue twisters, humming, and yawning can assist you in achieving excellent articulation.
Step 8 – Improve Vocals With Diaphragm Singing Exercises
One of the most effective ways to become a better singer is to strengthen your diaphragm and vocal cords with specific singing exercises.
Remember that the diaphragm is a muscle, and just like any body part, it needs to be exercised and stretched to become stronger.
Here are some of the most popular techniques:
- Sing On Your Back – This is one of the easiest exercises you can do to ensure that you’re singing from your diaphragm. Just lie flat on your back and start singing a song. This technique forces you to engage your diaphragm.
- Lip Trills – This simple exercise trains your diaphragm to release air in a controlled way. Pucker your lips as you inhale. Next, exhale through your closed lips to make a motorboat sound as you go up and down the scale.
- Vocal Sirens – These sirens will stretch your vocal cords and help you transition to each note smoothly while also exercising your diaphragm. Make an “ooh” sound (like a police car siren) and start at the lowest note in your vocal range. Slide up to the highest note you can reach and then back down.
Check out our list of the best vocal exercises for singers if you want some more diaphragm exercises!
Step 9 – Practice Daily
Breathing is one of the easiest things to do. Our bodies are constantly doing it! So, there’s no excuse not to practice breathing properly on a daily basis.
It takes hard work and determination to strengthen your diaphragm and improve your overall vocal performance.
Try practicing various breathing exercises while driving to work, in the shower, cleaning, or doing any other activity. Then, try incorporating those breathing techniques into your singing routine.
If you practice consistently, you’ll train your body to know how to hit high notes, sustain notes longer, and control your breathing. It’s true what they say: practice makes perfect!
Step 10 – Stretch Your Body
If you don’t want to become one of the singers that use auto-tune, don’t underestimate the value of regular stretching!
One of the major obstacles to proper singing technique is tension within the body, especially in the facial and neck areas.
It blocks the free flow of air and can even make your body feel a false sense of support that can ultimately lead to vocal damage.
It’s essential to be aware of the tension you’re feeling and be able to release it effectively. Make sure to consider your jaw, tongue, soft palate, throat, back, and intercostal muscles before you start singing.
Here are a few stretches to release any built-up tension you may be experiencing:
- Neck Stretch – Slowly look to your right and then to your left as far as possible. Next, bring your right ear down to your right shoulder and your left ear down to your left shoulder.
- The Eyebrow Lift – Lift your eyebrows (like you would if you were surprised) and hold them there for five seconds. Release and repeat them as necessary.
- Shoulder Roll – Roll your shoulders forward and backward. Then alternate between lifting them to your cheeks and letting them down.
Yawning and massaging the jawline and cheeks are also great ways to release tension in your face and neck regions.
Learning how to sing from your diaphragm is a necessary skill for singers, regardless of whether you’re a beginner or a professional.
Diaphragmatic singing can lessen the strain on your vocal cords and prevent injury while improving your singing voice.
Now that you understand how this important muscle works, you can start incorporating these exercises into your warm-up routine.
Before you know it, you’ll be belting out high notes with the help of your diaphragm! You’ll be shocked at how much power and breath control you’ll have once you figure it out.
Has this helped you learn to sing from your diaphragm? Leave a comment below.
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