Breath control in singing is really to do with timing: how we time in-breath to fit with the music and phrase and how do we organize the out-breath as well. Breathing patterns in singing tend to be different from those in speech because in singing the note is often elongated. Whenever we take a breath in for singing, the tummy needs to be moved out to allow the breath to drop more deeply into the lungs; whenever we breathe out for singing, the tummy needs to be gently pulled in. This helps to squeeze the air and create the vibrations in the voice-box that make the pitch.
One of the most fun activities that we used to learn about breath and explore how sound is produced was the BUBBLES. The children were invited to blow bubbles through a straw into a bottle of water and answer some questions such as: What was inside the bubbles? What did their friend do to make the air? Then we had a little competition to see who can blow longest in one breath, plus we tried to make a vocal sound while blowing bubbles. It was not that easy to sing a tune at the same time as making bubbles, but the Year 2 pupils did a fantastic job at humming familiar tunes and guessing what it was.
Year 2 moved on in their learning to think of a place where their voices sound different (a cave, a church, under the bridge or water for example). We are currently exploring the voice in different environments and learning about the timbre; using one of the Juilliard Creative Classroom activities to help us with. You might want to ask your child about Gershwin’s “Can’t Take That Away From Me” and the voice of two famous artists: Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald.
By Iva Borisavljevic
Choral Music Teacher and Choir Conductor