Rebecca Sherburn - voice expert

Breathing Part 2 - Inhalation

Learn how to inhale correctly for singing

In this second video about "breathing", Dr. Sherburn shows you the correct way to inhale for singing.

Released on February 7, 2018

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DISCLAIMER: The views and the opinions expressed in this video are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Virtual Sheet Music and its employees.

Video Transcription

Hello. I am Dr. Rebecca Sherburn, the Director of Vocal Studies at Chapman University in Southern California. This is the second segment on breathing for singing and we are going to focus on inhalation.

So during inhalation, on a relaxed abdomen, the ribs roll up and the diaphragm flattens out. So here are a few ways to feel the expansion of the ribcage and to help strengthen the muscles of inhalation.

First of all, seated in a chair, bend slightly forward with hands on the sides of the ribcage. Inhale and see if you can feel expansion in your back and sides. Be sure you aren't pulling up with your shoulders and clavicle like this. We are looking for expansion in the ribcage in the sides and the back when bent forward like this. For some people, that is all they need. If that worked, sit up straight and see if you can feel that same expansion on inhalation in normal seated posture like this. But if that didn't work, let's try something else.

You can search for your free-floating ribs, the lowest ones on each side. Here they are on this little skeleton. They are kind of hard to find. They are not fused and sometimes they can move a lot during inhalation so you may have to really dig into your sides low near the back to find them. They are deep, just above the hip points at the waist.

So once you have found them, take a deep breath and see if they move. Did it work? If not I have one more trick.

Wrap a belt or a strap around your back and pull it tight in front. Continue to pull as you inhale and see if you feel the expansion of the ribcage. I really feel that a lot.

Pick the method that worked best for you either bent slightly forward or digging your hands into your sides to feel your free-floating ribs or with the strap held tight. Take a breath and exhale on the hiss to ten clicks on the metronome in whatever posture you feel best. It is set to 60 or you can use a second hand on a watch or a digital clock to watch the seconds. Try to keep your ribs expanded as you hiss for ten seconds. Ready?

Hissing while keeping the ribs expanded builds strength in the muscles between the ribs, which helps us control inhalation and exhalation.

Now let's do the same thing sitting up straight, no props, no hands, but lets use "Shhh" this time. Inhale, ribs go wide, exhale to ten keeping the ribs wide. Ready?

How did you do? If you liked this exercise, you can extend the count to 11, 12, 13, or whatever. You can use "Shhh" or "Ssss" or try coffee stirrers or a straw like this. Really anything that blocks the airflow at the front of the instrument will help us build strength in the ribcage. Doing this exercise every day is a really good idea.

In the next video, we are going to talk about the motion of the abdominal wall in inhalation suspension and exhalation, which is singing. Finally. Yay. For now, take a deep breath and "Shhhh, sssss." Bye.
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Comments, Questions, Requests:

Beth * VSM MEMBER * on February 12, 2018 @8:35 am PST
Another fantastic video! You are taking the mystery out of singing. Thank you!
Rebecca Sherburn - host, on February 13, 2018 @8:36 am PST
Hi Beth,
Thanks for the nice comment. There is a lot of mystery in singing because we can't see so much of the instrument, still, the parts we can see and clearly feel need to be under our conscious control at first. Then, most of the action becomes muscle memory and the joy kicks in. Happy singing.
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