Breathing techniques for singers – RouteNote blog

Controlling breathing in singing is easily overlooked by beginners – here’s why the breathing exercise for singing is important, along with a few exercises to try.

When singing comes naturally, it’s not something you pay much attention to. You just sang! But even if you sing casually on your guitar, your voice needs good breathing support to perform at its best.

Once you start the vocal breathing exercises you will notice the difference. You will hopefully find that your body is more relaxed, your lung capacity improves, your voice is less tired, and you have more control.

Whether you are learning to sing or are a professional, check out these breathing techniques ideas for singing.

Controlling breathing in singing – how to get started

To understand the correct way to breathe, lie on your back with your hands on your stomach. Breathe in through your nose for four beats and notice your hands go up – breathe out through your mouth for four beats and your hands will lower.

It is important to relax – do not contract your shoulders, arms, back or chest. Imagine a ring around your diaphragm, around your waist. Keep your shoulders down as you breathe in through your nose, trying to push the imaginary ring out. Breathe out through your nose and mouth.

Breathing exercises for singing

Proper respiratory support will help avoid straining or damaging your voice while you sing. Try these two techniques to improve your breathing control.

Hissing “ess” is a great way to activate your diaphragm, and this exercise produces long, even sentences. Pay attention to your breathing as you go forward.

Try inhaling through your nose for four beats, then hissing as you exhale through your nose and mouth for four beats, keeping the hissing sound steady and constant in volume. Vary the time you spend with each new exercise by whistling outward for 20 beats. The complete exercise is as follows:

  1. Inhale during 4 beats, whistles for 4 Beats
  2. In for 6 bat out for ten Beats
  3. In for 6 bat out for 12 Beats
  4. In for 2 bat, out of 12 Beats
  5. In for 4 bat, out of 16 Beats
  6. In for 2 bat out for 16 Beats
  7. In for 4 bat out for 20 Beats
  8. In for 1 beat out for 20 Beats

You can also try an exercise that involves breathing in to fill your lungs. Start with four beats, inhaling gradually until you fill your lungs to capacity on the fourth beat, then breathe out in bits until the 12th.

  1. Inspire quarter full
  2. Inspire half full
  3. Inspire three quarters full
  4. Inspire fully
  5. Inhale gradually 8 breaths


  1. Inspire half full
  2. Inspire fully
  3. Inhale gradually 8 breaths

Sing warm up

Once you have focused your breath to allow yourself to take deep, full breaths, remember to warm up your voice. Just as warming up before you go for a run activates your muscles to avoid injury, you should warm up your vocal cords before spending a long time singing.

Warming up and breathing exercises relax your body and mind while preparing your muscles for performance. I know, you probably feel like you can’t be bothered, but you don’t need to spend too much time on a vocal warm-up – five or ten minutes is enough.

The hum and buzz of the ascending and descending scales in your vocal range are good ways to warm up the voice.

A combination of breathing exercises and vocal warm-ups will prepare you for your group workout or production session. Breathing exercises are also calming and have a meditative effect, so try before a performance to soothe the nerves – or for a conscious break on a stressful day.

If you found this helpful, check out our voice health tips and voice production tips.

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