I suggested in an earlier blog that in order to become better singers we need to become more intimately acquainted with our bodies and how they function. We need to find exercises that show us or help us sense what we are doing, and how, with our bodies moving in space. When I talk of movement here, I recognise that we are ALWAYS in motion. Our hearts are pumping blood, our brain is directing our diaphragms to descend and ascend to keep us breathing, food is being moved through our digestive system, our very cells are metabolically reacting – (not talking about the mobile kind). I may know, intellectually, that an inbreath is a contraction of the diaphragm DOWN and a little out with the lower ribs. I may know equally that an out breath is a return of the diaphragm UP to resting position.- as per the somewhat dry diagram above. Unfortunately that knowledge may lead me to forcing the matter – pushing at my diaphragm and surrounding muscles, instead of allowing the action to maximise itself. One of my solutions to this problem is to look at ways in which we naturally work well with our diaphragm- more precisely, particular ways in which our whole body supports our diaphragm’s activity.
Here is one exercise: the swing.
Everyone knows how to push someone on a swing. You don’t tense your arms, or the poor ‘swingee’ will be pushed off, you sense without thinking how to let go and then push against the arriving back of your niece, nephew, little brother, whoever is on that swing. In that ‘let go’ you naturally find your in-breath, and in the push, you can find a natural impetus to exhale. Furthermore, in that swing you instinctively understand that working high in your body is tiring, you want to push from the ground, hello grounding again! You can, with imaginative recall of this lived experience, reproduce it for your in and out-breath. Really reproduce it – let your weight shift as you would in reality, let your breath go as you would, and gather a natural impetus to launch your air. Increase this sensation with sound. If in doubt, find a real swing, and a victim to swing on it.