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Are you breathing too deeply??

exercise nonbinary voice voice feminization voice masculinization Apr 10, 2024
Are you breathing too deeply?

Hello, lovely readers! Today, I come bearing insights that might just transform the way you approach your voice training sessions. I’m Renée, your guide through the intricate world of gender-affirming voice training, and I need to share something very important! Have you ever considered the possibility that you might be breathing too deeply? Yes, you heard me right. Let’s look into this breathing conundrum together.

During a recent office hour for my trans voice course students, a fascinating case caught my attention. A student came to me, perplexed by a recurring soreness and frequent loss of voice post-practice. After a little detective work and a few diagnostic tests, we uncovered the culprit: overfilling the lungs before exercises.

Now, I know what you're thinking, "But Renée, I thought a big breath was the best prep for vocal exercises!" Here's the twist—while filling your lungs with air might seem like a logical step to power your voice, it actually introduces a host of challenges. Imagine your vocal folds as diligent gatekeepers, striving to manage the air pressure from below (subglottal pressure, for the curious ones among us). This extra air from overfilling creates unnecessary tension, making your practice sessions anything but a smooth ride.

So, how do we navigate this tricky situation? The key lies in embracing moderation. Before you embark on any voice exercise, I invite you to take three normal, relaxed breaths. With each breath, allow yourself to sink deeper into a state of relaxation. By the time you reach the third breath, you should be filling your lungs a moderate amount instead of overfilling.

Let's take a descending sigh exercise as an example. Instead of gearing up with a lung-full of air, you'd start with our trio of calming breaths, smoothly transitioning into your exercise with the air that feels natural and sufficient.

I encourage you to experiment with this breathing strategy in your next practice session. It's a simple tweak, but you might be surprised by how much easier and more comfortable your voice training becomes. My hope is that this little piece of advice not only alleviates some of the physical strain you might be experiencing but also enriches your journey towards mastering your authentic voice.

Remember, the path to finding your voice is as much about the notes you hit as it is about the breaths you take. Here's to more joyful and less tense practice sessions ahead!

Hi, I'm Renée! (they/them)

I'm a queer, nonbinary, and disabled singer, songwriter and gender-affirming voice teacher. 

I've been a voice teacher for over twelve years, I have four full-length albums out, and I have degrees in physics, jazz, and songwriting.

I love creating, I love figuring things out, but most of all, I love helping people.

Learn more about me

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