Tuesday, November 1, 2011

BREATH IS CONFIDENCE "The Basics of Singing" 6: The Belt

When I hit stage, whether it's a new situation (under rehearsed with a new song, working with unfamiliar musicians or performing in a new venue) the one thing I have unshakable confidence in is my breath. I feel like there's nothing that you could throw at me that I couldn't do because of having a flexible, worked and accessible diaphragm. That kind of breath control lets me be calm and peaceful in situations that could be stressful and scary. It gives me room to create a relationship with the audience, or sink down into the emotional lie of my material instead of worrying about whether my air will last to the end of the phrase!
Our goal should be feeling we have enough breath to do anything!
That kind of confidence is something our audience can feel in our presence and our fellow musicians can feel it in our approach to the job. We're easier to work with because we're less scared and more relaxed as performers! We find ourselves much less given to stage fright and performance anxiety when we know that our bodies are working at peak to help us do the job at hand. It does, however take lots and lots of practice to build the diaphragm into a working muscle! I am able to get a whole lot of air into my body quickly because of the hard work I did with classical coach Jose Hernandez back in the day. Jose went on to coach the Canadian Opera Company but at the time his clients were artists like Jane Sibery, Taborah Johnson and Rebecca Jenkins. We all grew immeasurably under his guidance. I learned the "belt" technique from him. The new clip demonstrates using a belt to help build the diaphragm as a muscle, It's best used in tandem with the mental image of our diaphragm as an inner tube that we are expanding. An inner tube that is wrapping all around our torso and that we are consciously filling with air, working against the belt to build the muscle up and get it activated. Now of course it's actually our lungs that are filling with air BUT the use of a visual image of our filling and emptying an inner tube is useful to expanding lung capacity. The more our "inner tube" or diaphragm expands the more air can fill the bottom part of our lungs (which is where they are largest, the lungs are actually pear shaped!). The belt offers resistance for the muscle to work against and that helps us develop the muscle tone needed get the most amount of air into our bodies!

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