In the Born 2 Sing Kids Sequence, the 5 stages of a voice lesson help to create lesson structure. If you are new to my blog I invite you to read through my previous posts. The sequence format is based on the main topics that I feel should be addressed consistently with young singers. Children in the voice studio learn better when they have a diversity of activities to explore. This not only helps to keep short attention spans occupied, but it also helps to introduce the many facets required to learn singing proficiency. In my last blog post I outlined the first stage, which is “warm-ups.”
The second stage to be covered in the Born 2 Kids Sequence is respiration. Learning proper breathing techniques is a central focal point for every singer. The earlier a singer can begin to understand how the breathing mechanism aids in singing, the better.
Children in the age range of 6-12 years old can effectively learn breathing techniques. Some of the biggest challenges that a teacher can face with young singers are related to coordination and control.
As a young singer develops, their lung capacity and physical coordination will steadily grow. Getting young singers to feel the expansion in their torso and breathing without heaving into their shoulders is one of my main objectives. I also like to use easy body movements to help with physical coordination.
Do you know your singing anatomy??
**Let’s make one thing clear….you cannot “sing from the diaphragm.”
The diaphragm is used for taking in air and not for exhalation.
Always remember that effective breathing cannot happen unless a singer has good posture and body alignment.
Below is a list of some ideas that you can use in your lessons to teach proper breathing techniques. I divide my breathing exercises into two categories--Horizontal Breathing and Vertical Breathing:
Have the student lie on the floor. Help guide them to relax and to take in a nice easy breath. Watch the gentle lifting of their belly. You can have the student place their hands on the lower abdomen or even place a book there to bring awareness to this area.
I like to use the yoga Cat-Cow Pose. A quick Google search for YouTube videos can be your guide if you are not a yogi. Work on bringing awareness to the breath with inhalation on cow and exhale back into cat. My kids love this exercise.
Have students stand with good posture and ask them to take in a nice relaxed breath. This time, bring awareness to relaxed shoulders, keeping length in the area between the ears and the shoulders.
Use an expanding sphere toy (I love props in the studio!) and have the student take in a breath. Have them hold the sphere and open it up as they breathe in.
For the coordination of exhaling, I often use pinwheels. Have the student practice taking in a nice relaxed breath and then blow on the pinwheel to feel the steady flow of the exhalation.
These are just a few of my favorites that help foster the early techniques of breath management. For young singers, bear in mind that coordination and control will be the biggest challenges. Keep it simple and most of all keep it fun!
Maybe you have some exercises that you use. Please share your ideas and feel free to keep the discussion going on our Facebook group Voice Teachers for Young Singers or on the Born 2 Sing Kids Facebook page.
Thanks for reading!! And Happy Singing...