In my first voice lesson, my teacher explained our “instrument,” or our voice. When he instructs kids, he says, “Point to your instrument.” This produces varied responses. Some kids point to their throat. Some point to their lungs. Some point to their mouth. All of them are right.
The instrument of our voice includes three main areas: the airflow, the vocal chords and the throat/nose/mouth. Over the next few weeks, we will look at each.
Your breath (airflow) is what makes wind and brass instruments work. On an accordion, your arms create airflow, and on a pump organ your legs do the work.
In singing, the airflow is where it all starts, obviously. You cannot have good singing without good airflow. We study posture not for you to look good standing up straight, but for you to sound good and feel good. Good posture aligns your body as God designed it. Bad posture curves the throat, crunches the lungs and leaves no room in the diaphragm to expand downward. Good posture makes singing more natural rather than hard work. Charlotte can scream for an hour straight and not get tired or lose her voice. How? She is not tense or slumped over. Her airflow is perfect. She is designed for volume… and boy does she have it! Bad posture is a lazy habit, and it hurts their airflow by constricting all things air-related.
Airflow is more than good posture, though. It is about control. Hum “Jesus Loves Me” through a “vvvv” and you will feel the way you should control your airflow. Sing “Jesus Loves Me” through a breathy “ah” and you’ll see how fast your air can leave you! Controlling your airflow means that you do not let all your air out at once—even in the loud and high parts.
Controlled airflow is the foundation to good singing. Be like an accordion… keep that constant, steady squeeze and you will be surprised at the results.