Alright, we’re moving right along. Now that you’ve learned how to breathe properly for singing as well as why we breathe in a certain way, it’s time to chat a bit about common problems that many singers find themselves having. 

For the record, I’m not a negative guy. But since I don’t have the pleasure of working 1-on-1 with you, I can’t give you immediate feedback on what’s going right or wrong. So instead, I figured I’d share 3 or 4 of the most common issues I see in lessons. This way, you can avoid these mistakes. So let’s get to it! (also, visit if you’re interested in 1-on-1 lessons).

The 3 most common issues I come across are as follows: the gasp, the overfiller, and the puffy chest. Let’s explore them a bit deeper. 

First off, we have the gasp! Now this issue is exactly what it sounds like. The singer gasps while inhaling. This should be avoided because when we hear a gasp, we know that unneeded muscles in the throat are clinching during the inhale. These muscles are trying to “help” you inhale more deeply and quickly. But this extra musculature causes tension while you sing, and therefore gets in the way of your vocal success. 

So instead, make sure you inhale more gradually and with a more neutral shape in the mouth and the throat. This way, you’ll avoid accidentally adding tension to your voice. 

Second up on our list is the over-filler. I call this the over-filler because it happens when singers take a full breath without fully exhaling beforehand. This over build up of air causes uncomfortable pressure in the throat. This pressure and discomfort only gets worse as we sing higher, which makes us more likely to crack. This means this tension dramatically limits our range and agility.

So once you get the hang of inhaling using your diaphragm, you need to shift the focus to making sure you have the right amount of air available too you without going overboard. You can either do this by only inhaling as much as you need for the next phrase, or by exhaling fully before you inhale. Hopefully that makes sense. 

Third and finally, we have the puffy chest. The puffy chest is exactly what it sounds like. It’s when someone ends up inhaling so deliberately that they over exaggeratedly stick out their chest when they breathe. This is bad for a couple of reasons. First, your chest raising when you inhale is the #1 sign that you’re not using your diaphragm when you breathe. Second, this action creates tension and rigidity in your body, and as a general rule all tension finds its way to the voice. 

So if you find yourself inhaling in a way that the chest raises or sticks out, make it a point to relax. Remember, it’s just breathing. Go back to placing your hand on your belly button and focusing on pushing out the stomach as you inhale and sing. 

I like to take the KISS approach – Keep it simple, stupid. Breathing is simple. Allow it to be simple. Down and outward expansion on the inhale, don’t over inhale, and moderate the airflow to create a steady and consistent flow of air. Do this, and you’ll be well on your way to singing smarter, not harder. 

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