"Be Conscious?" you ask. Ok, ok, I say: never be self-conscious. But the title, besides being an eye catcher, also serves a purpose, believe me. If I caught your attention, it has served its purpose halfway.
Of course, to be self conscious is to perform poorly; so never be.
But I say, be conscious of a few things. And if you do, you can sound a lot better and sing a lot more precise and relieve yourself of unneeded anxiety in the process. So that's hitting several birds with one stone; not bad eh? Here goes. . .
♫ BE CONSCIOUS OF THE WHOLE CIRCUMFERENCE OF YOUR ABDOMINALS.
As you breathe in very deeply, try to 'feel' the whole 360 degrees of your ribcage. If you cannot feel the back ribs as well as the front ribs, you have not breathed in as deep as you need to.
Try this: Drink in the air (as if drinking from a large glass)! Do this by taking at least three successive BIG inhales (that is, without exhaling in between inhales!!) until your lungs get filled to full capacity. Now we are feeling the back ribs aren't we? Very good, we're getting there.
And what do we do with it?
♫ Try to DO THAT BEFORE ATTEMPTING TO SING--(and I'm not done yet)--♫ AND TRY TO HOLD THAT FEELING THE ENTIRE LENGTH OF THE SONG.
I mean hold the ribcage outwards; right there, and never let it go up and down as you inhale and exhale naturally (see Josh and Charlotte above). Imagine a balloon inside a laundry hamper. The balloon is your lungs and the wide hamper is your ribcage. The balloon (your lungs) inflate and deflate while you breathe in and out naturally while the hamper (representing your ribcage) remains rigidly wide and roomy; that is, retaining its widest capacity; not 'pumping with' the lungs. (See images 3 and 4)I think you got it by now. If you can do it, half the battle has been won.
Why? The problem of a narrow air passage was hurdled; resulting to a freer breath flow. You will eventually find that with this process, you gain full control of your air flow, thereby avoiding 'off-pitches' and wobbles, and shortness of air. Why, because the ribcage, when unheld, drives out the air quickly as it deflates; I mean it squeezes the air out fast.
And you know what? Just like a balloon that 'shrieks' when you let go of its opening, your voice come out less controlled resulting to several singing problems as 'pitchy' singing, wobbles, and shortness of breath to mention a few.
". . . Relieve yourself of unneeded anxiety in the process" Did I say that? Yes, I did. When you focus on your breathing, your 360 degrees of ribcage, and the holding out of the said body part for the entirety of the song, your performance tensions get set aside. Get the picture? Your mind gets so busy focusing on these things there is little room if any, left for fear and self-consciousness.
So there. Hold it right there! I mean, expand the ribcage and hold it there. Yes, to the end of the song at hand. Be conscious of your back ribs, never let go. But before I go, remember to relax all the surrounding muscles and body parts from the chest up and the waist down. Because there is what I call...
The SETBACK: Quite understandably, it's weird to do it the first few times. It may feel so unnatural and you may stiffen in some areas like the chest, the neck, the shoulders, the arms, even the scalp and facial muscles. I tackle this issue ( learn the ISOLATION TECHNIQUE) on my next Singing Tip (No.3) so please proceed there right after reading this. Just in case you're reading this sooner than I post the next tip, just remember to relax everything else but the mid-section. Maybe that would help a bit. Till then.
Slogans/Thoughts to Remember:
1-PMP - Practice Makes Permanent (Training the body to naturally do the routine)
2-MHM - Muscles Have Memory (Well trained muscles develop useful reflexes to engage the task at hand.)
3-From the gym:" You grow (you improve) every time you push yourself to the limits." Your weak muscle fibers get sore but improves dramatically after it heals from the previous routine. You discover on your next visit to the gym that you can easily heft the 30-pound dumbbell that gave you such a hard time the last time you tried to use it. :)
Tip No. 3 - "Isolate"