Breath Management – Breathy Singing

What Breathy Singing Is and How To Correct It

I’m not against certain types of singing just because they aren’t technically correct, if they are done deliberately for stylistic purposes. That could be anything from screamy, hardcore vocals to jumping into falsetto to breathy vocals. Breathy vocals can be cool for a stylistic effect, here and there, but it’s pretty cheesy for the most part. So, it should mostly be avoided anyway but certainly for proper singing technique.

As you could probably figure, breathy vocals are a result of heavy airflow over the vocal folds that aren’t fully, or properly, together. Since the entire goal of singing is to turn airflow into tone by the vibrating larynx, breathy vocals represent a loss or waste of air and an incorrect pacing of exhalation. There needs to be more resistance given by the vocal folds but not by adding increased pressure and tension on the vocal tract (the system of singing from the abdomen up to the mouth). And if the first burst of air that comes out of your mouth is breath before tone, your onset is off from the beginning—the air-retention role of the abdomen is slackened—which leads to improper phrasing, singing and replenishing breath.

Amateur singers have a tendency to believe that part of the goal of good singing is how much air can be produced from the lungs, whereas the goal as actually how well you pace the exiting breath, turning it into tone.

Click here to read and get a couple vocal warm up exercises.

Whether you have breathy vocals as a habit, a style or lack of control of your vocal cords, there are a couple of exercises that you can use to correct the breathiness. The first is the use of the consonant /k/, which holds back the airflow until the vowel is sung. You can do brief, mostly silent onset exercises starting with /k/ and moving to /kah/.

The second is like the first, but instead of using /k/ and /kah/, use /g/ and /go/. Remember to replenish your breath silently. And it is always a good idea to do your exercises with proper posture, chest up, shoulders down and relaxed.

The third way to help diminish excessive airflow is to hum the consonant /m/. This exercise forces the air to release from the nose giving it a more indirect path. The /m/ hum should be voiced and repeated several times.

Over time theses exercises should help rid you of breathiness. And if you want to throw in some breath every once in a while, say when you’re covering an 80’s ballad, feel free to do so, but, for the most part, you’re better off without it.

Hope that’s somewhat helpful!


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