Last week we related the importance of preparing the breathing muscles for sustaining the tone. Remember, "weak air, weak tone."
Here are a few more observations about "warming" and strengthening the process of breathing. As you are preparing for Thursday’s rehearsal or Sunday’s service, you can use the breathing muscles in a variety of ways. Here are some tips for preparing the breathing mechanism:
Remember: you must concentrate on expanding your midsection "all the way around your middle." (Sternum to ribs-in-back)
Some teachers advocate "panting"; or you can "lift your elbows outward" in rapid succession, exhaling every time the elbows expand. Another exercise is to take a good breath (remember: make that midsection expand!) and then expel the air in several short puffs, allowing the midsection to "go in" slowly. A fun exercise is to take a good breath and then utter an extended "zzzz" sound for as long as possible. (I once knew a professional trombone player who could do it for almost a minute. Incredible!!)
One more breathing technique is to take a deep breath (lots of mid-section expansion!) and then hold it for several seconds – and then release the air slowly. (Perhaps over a count of five) You can easily walk about the office or home doing this exercise.
But you’ll notice that you CANNOT do these exercises slouching or sitting with your legs crossed. (But you can do them lying on your back!) A straight back is essential to good breathing and hence, good singing! Again, this is why the initial warmup on Sunday morning is so important. You are forced to stand and properly warm-up your mechanism.
Prepare, practice and then perform to the best of your ability. You can do it!! It will take some time, but you will receive eternal rewards!