Breath and Breathe: Just Breathe

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Breath and Breathe. All audiences want their emotions guided by the song. Breath is a key component in their journey.


Breath and Breathe
Feeling tense? Just breathe.
Crying? Just breathe.
Laughing so hard you can't stop? Just breathe.
Excited about a big win? Just breathe.

In times of extreme emotion, we need to be reminded to take a breath and breathe. The cleansing, calming power of the deep breath helps us recover from the extreme emotions.

Just breathe.

It feels so good, doesn't it. The breath goes deep into the lungs. The muscles of the ribs stretch. Shoulders open. Back flares. Nose cools. Throat relaxes.

It isn't just the extreme emotions that require breath therapy. The little breaths we take when we are mentally focused on something else are not satisfying, not the way a "just breathe" breath is.

Emotion effects our breathing.
Breathing effects our emotions.

And songs are vehicles for emotion.

All audiences want their emotions guided by the song. Breath is a key component in their journey.

Some songs take the singer and audience on a journey through conflict and resolution. The audience's breath is effected. During tension the audience waits with "baited breath" until the conflict is resolved, for better or worse, and they can "breathe again."

There is a house in New Orleans,
They call the Rising Sun,
And many a poor
And Lord I know I'm one.

Some songs help the audience release their own personal conflicts and "just breathe."

Sittin' by the dock of the bay,
Watchin' the tide roll away.
Sittin' by the dock of the bay,
Wastin' time.



Some songs force us to release pent-up breath. Songs filled with anger, frustration, social upheaval. Songs can force us to make a choice, take a breath and breathe, and take action. Sometimes the action is to cry out, like Disturbed's version of "Sound of Silence" or Aretha Franklin's "RESPECT."

As singers we have control over the way each audience member breathes. Watch your audience - watch their breathing.

Do you want them to feel the pain or frustration of the song? You will see it in their restricted breathing.

Do you want them to feel excitement, or anger? You will see their energized bodies, breath ready for action.

Do you want them to feel relaxation from the song? They will relax their bodies, breathe through their noses, experiencing the wonderful "just breathe" feeling.

As singers, we must control our own breath. Our breath becomes the dancer's body, smooth and flowing or choppy and intense. Sustained and sustainable, or demanding and deliberate. Through our breath we mold the song. Through our breath we mold the experience of the audience.

Singers are taught to breathe in the most efficient way in order to sing beautiful tones. And yes, it is important to master that skill. Every singer needs to know how to make beautiful tones. But the Master Singer knows how to mold the breath of the audience through song. That requires deliberate choices with their own breath.

Next time you sing for someone, focus on their breathing. Can you change their breathing through yours, without them even knowing it? If you can do this, they will have experienced an emotional journey. They will have been moved by you.

Nancy Bos
Nancy Bos
Bos, a singer, voice actor, and voice teacher, has introduced the joy of singing to people all over the world with her lessons, books, and podcast. “It’s been an amazing journey, and so meaningful. I feel like voice teachers and voice actors are the luckiest people alive. We get to live our passion every day and experience the joy of transformation every minute we are working.” Bos has loved singing since she grew up in South Dakota and later in Iowa and New Mexico.

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