How to Sing - Posture and Breathing

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These pages are about producing a good vocal tone. They are intended to help the community choir member whose formal education may not have included advanced voice training. If you are interested in reading the entire series of articles I have written on this subject, please visit

1. Posture

There is a good reason to start with posture. It is the foundation on which all other techniques stand.

You have heard of "good" posture, but what does that mean to a singer? Certainly it is not the ram-rod straight posture one associates with a military inspection. Nor is it any stiff and formal pose. Good posture for a singer is instead:

2. Breathing

Once your posture is correct you can learn to breathe properly. "What," I can hear some of you say, "is he talking about? Breathing is a natural thing.I know how to breathe."

Let me explain: if you have ever observed a baby asleep, you may have noticed that the stomach goes in and out while the infant is breathing. Think about this for a moment. Take a deep breath. Did your shoulders rise? Your chest expand? If they did then you have a lot to un-learn in order to give your voice a properly supporting air column.

Go back to the baby again. Now, assume good posture as discussed above - spine straight,ribs slightly lifted, shoulders squared but relaxed - and then expand only your stomach. Did that feel a bit awkward? Try to do it without moving your shoulders or ribs. You'll find a natural limit to the expansion you can get before things start to move. That is all the breath you need to sing.

Now the next part is easy -maybe. Breathe out. Keep your ribs and shoulders in position (but not tight) and push in until there is no air left. Again moving only your abdomen breathe in. Push it all out again. If you can learn to do this repeatedly with little or no movement in the shoulders you are well begun. All good choral singing begins with these two steps.

On the next page we will begin to discuss tone production. What makes a good singing tone? This page will discuss this issue, as well as techniques for reducing the risk of injury.

All material on these pages is copyright ©1998-2003 Steven J. Ericson - "The Choirsinger" - and all rights are reserved. Permission to print and distribute this work is hereby granted provided 1. this copyright and thesource URL remain part of the document, and 2. this material is not sold.