Can we talk about your breath?

— March 30, 2022 —

When I say the word “breath,” what is your first thought?

For many, this whisks us away into the Badlands of Something I Should Be Better At. 

When I was 14 and began “formally studying” voice, I learned all the things you are supposed to learn when you take voice lessons.

The first two things you are taught when you Study Voice:
1️⃣ How to Stand.
2️⃣ How to Breathe.

I was imprinted with the understanding that Standing and Breathing were actions, something I was supposed to Do in order to exact excellence in my singing. 

Because alignment and breath are indeed truly vital to the successful outcomes we desire for our sound.

What were you taught about your breath? Does that make you feel 100% secure and confident in how it supports your voice? Is there any mental or physical tension in the way you breathe? What do you wish for your breath? Have you ever thought about it?

Sometimes I have a real love-hate relationship with singing technique. I was taught that you manipulate your breath in order to breathe well, and to support your loveliest sound and lengthiest phrases. 

But lemme tell you, that gave me nothing but bad breath. 

By manipulating my breathing system, or really by vacuuming my air into some internal existential scuba tank, my breath support became more unwieldy and unreliable as I got older.

More tension crept into my entire singing system until I didn’t trust one breath to go my way. And add to that the actual stress of my life, and the acute physical and emotional remnants of a traumatic c-section, well… things got a little *rocky* in the breath department. 

Interestingly, the catalyst that initiated the wild healing process of my body and spirit was discovering my breath. But not exactly according to my education and experience in the voice studio…

I discovered how stretchy and flexible your breath can be… how your breath is a brilliant mechanism that responds intimately to your state of being (and state of mind)… how your entire sound-making mechanism responds to the cascading effects of the air intake in a brilliant, synchronized dance of life… how nice, I mean, close to blissful, that it can be…

Or NOT. 

But let’s get back to singing for a sec. Let’s rejigger this breathing concept. Because here’s the takeaway for you…

Breath is not something you manipulate. As in, “take a breath.”

Breath is something that you allow. Such as, “receive your breath.”

The more you let in, the higher quality your air. And the higher quality your air, the more improved your breath support will be, both for singing, and for life. 

So take a moment right now, become still and centered. Your breath will slow and an exhale will be initiated. As you await your inhale, be willing to let yourself receive the precious gift of life-giving breath. 

That is the fuel of your voice. 



Allison Mondel
Allison Mondel is a musician, philosopher, advocate, and mentor. Her greatest delight is to understand how things work, and share her hard-won wisdom with others. She writes about the higher nature of music and the voice, alchemizing personal roadblocks, and the pursuit of one's creative vocation.

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