6 Tips For Breathing In Choirs

1. Adapt Your Breath To The Singing Style

There is not just one correct way to breath in singing. It depends on the singing style. Roughly (but not only!) one could say that classical styles need a deeper inhalation than pop-, rock & jazz styles that use more speech-like voice. Some singing styles require more breath than others.

2. Use Inhalation For Releasing Tensions In The Pharynx

Inhalation is a relaxation phase for the vocal folds. At the same time it’s an opportunity to release any unwanted tensions in the larynx and in the vocal tract which helps to prepare for the next phrase. When you are practicing new songs practice also to use these short ”moments of rest” for your benefit.

3. Prepare For Singing During Inhalation

Silent practice works wonders! Practice starting the phrases – especially demanding ones – without the voice. First inhale while keeping in mind the singing style and release all unnecessary tensions. At the end of inhalation prepare the starting pitch, the emotion and the first syllable in your mind and in your body. When you are ready to start release unnecessary tensions again. Then exhale and repeat preparation a few times without the voice. Once you find a comfortable preparation easily it’s time to practice with the voice.

4. Non-Breathy Voice Needs Less Air Than Breathy Voice

Choose a less breathy voice to sing longer phrases with one breath. If others seem to sing phrases with one breath while you struggle check if your voice is too breathy. Depending on singing style singing louder may need more air than singing softly, but not always. Practicing onsets also helps to find the optimal air pressure level for different singing tasks.

5. Learn To Inhale Inaudibly

Inhaling inaudibly is needed when choristers breathe secretly in turns so that the audience doesn’t notice it in the middle of phrases. Learn also to fade in and out for the same reason.  

6. Don’t Use Too Much Air Pressure

Depending on the singing style more or less air is needed. The air pressure changes also with the pitch, in different vowels and consonants and in different volumes. Therefore different amount of air is needed and the air must be adapted all the time. It’s not very common to have problems due to insufficient air pressure. Instead, singing with too much air pressure (pushing) is more likely to happen which often leads to several unwanted functions such as wearing out the voice, vocal constriction (which affects directly to the choral sound) and pitch problems.