Anatomy for singers the easy way: The Diaphragm.

We are going to talk about the very important characteristics of the diaphragm so that you understand its role in breathing for singing. Let’s start right now. So let’s play a game, “True or False?” I am going to show you three statements and you tell me if you think that they are true or not:

  1. The diaphragm inhales and exhales.
  2. The diaphragm supports the sound.
  3. You can feel your diaphragm when you inhale.

Now, pause the video and think about these statements. Are they true or false? By the way, if you don’t know what the diaphragm is, no worries, I am going to talk about it very soon. Just take a guess for now.

Ok. If you said that all three statements are false, you are absolutely right! Congratulations! These three statements are very common myths floating around in the singing community. And some singers build their skills based on this kind of information and as a result of not having good knowledge about their instrument, they don’t progress.

So now, let’s talk a little bit about the diaphragm and let’s see if you will be able to restate the three statements into facts.

The diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscle that spans across the bottom of the ribcage. It is attached to the spine at the back, to the bottom edge of the ribcage on the sides and to the sternum (breast bone) on the front. The diaphragm separates the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity.

The diaphragm is the major muscle of inhalation because it is responsible for about 70% of inhaled air.

During inhalation, the diaphragm contracts, flattens and moves downward. This downward movement pushes on the inner organs in your abdomen. You can observe this direct effect of the descending diaphragm as your belly gets pushed out during inhalation. It is not the diaphragm you see and feel moving in and out. It is the inner organs getting pushed out due to descending of the diaphragm.

When the diaphragm moves down, the lungs expand. As a result, the air pressure in the lungs decreases, which sucks air into the lungs.

During exhalation, the diaphragm relaxes and returns up to its dome-shaped relaxed position. The inner abdominal organs also return to their “normal” position and you can observe this as your belly moves in. The lungs decrease in volume, which causes the air to rush out of the lungs.

There you have it! The diaphragm. But how does this knowledge help us create a flexible, yet powerful system to support the sound? Once you understand the basic structures and principles, you can start discovering and exploring your own body, you can start learning how to use it to your advantage and how to control it. Now, let’s reformulate the three statements into facts that we can build our skills upon.

  1. The diaphragm inhales. It relaxes during exhalation.
  2. The diaphragm does not support the sound because it is very difficult to control a muscle in the state of relaxation.
  3. You cannot feel your diaphragm when you inhale. What you feel is the inner organs and the abdominal wall moving out as a result of the descending diaphragm.

This was just a short anatomy and physiology lesson. As you can see, it does not have to be boring or hard to learn.

Ok. That is all for today. Thank you very much for watching this video and I cannot wait to the next one. Happy breathing and happy singing. Take care.

Link to the video: