I am playing with a few new support ideas lately that I want to describe in brief. Since becoming a tenor, I have had to really “up” the amount of breath support I give myself. Realize though, that this does not entirely mean pushing the breath out with a strong abdominal action. Instead, it means a regulation of air.
- Wide lower ribs. I have always believed in wide ribs, but lately I have been focusing more on the floating ribs at the bottom of the rib cage. In inhalation, I widen the lower ribs as much as I can. As I sing, I make sure that they never collapse no matter how strenuous the passage.
- Back breathing. Along with the wide lower ribs, I have focused more on the area between the bottom of my ribs (in the back) and the top of my hip bone. In inhalation, I stretch this area out and feel as if I am filling that up with air.
- Singing through my belly button. This is one I sometimes forget about but wish I hadn’t. While ascending, it is habitual for most of us to raise our larynx. If we think about keeping the larynx low, however, we may force it down by depressing our tongues. By thinking about singing through one’s belly button, one can “trick” the larynx into remaining low on its own.
If you are currently working on your breath support techniques, I would love to hear about them.
I have been working TONS on breath support techniques and, since I haven’t had the opportunity to have lessons, since May, I never really know when I’m doing things right or not. I just kind of experiment and figure out what feels ok and seems to help and what doesn’t. Luckily, I did just get a digital voice recorder that can, at least, give me some idea of how I am sounding and I have also asked a couple of people I trust (including Emma Rosenthal) what sounds better.
As far as ribs, I have just been focusing on not collapsing and keeping them open. I have not yet been able to gain the coordination or awareness, so to speak, to be able to isolate different movements/feelings/separation between the parts and the whole. What I found is that I either tended to significantly raise or significantly depress my larynx. So, I’ve been trying to focus my breathing downward, in a way that doesn’t lend itself to the larynx going down and vice versa. It’s a slow process and it still takes a lot of trial and error to breathe just right, without adding a bunch of unnecessary tensions. Thinking of releasing down was helpful to me…but, it has been very hard to have my body do it, involuntarily. Once I was able to do that, I discovered back breathing a little bit. I have tried not to get *too* focused on producing a sensation in the back…because, then, it creates unwanted tensions, all over the place…but, when I am able to release, all the way, that part above the hip bone that you were talking about…does WONDERS. Sorry this is so incoherent. Haha. I am so new to all of this and am totally overwhelmed. For years, I have understood everything, intellectually, and always thought I was doing it, since everyone thought my breathing was ok. Now, my body is FINALLY understanding what my brain understood, long ago. :) P.S. If you have any other tips, let me know!