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The Misunderstood Truth About How to Sing with Your Diaphragm 

By  Judy Fine

Are you here because you’re wondering how to sing with your diaphragm? 

Lucky you! You’ve landed on the right article. 

There is a lot of confusion around this topic. In fact, many of the people (some lifelong singers, even) who give this advice don’t know exactly what they mean by it. And they rarely, if ever, get to the part where they tell you HOW to sing with your diaphragm.

I’m not one of those people. Keep reading and you’ll soon know what most singers don’t know... How to sing with your diaphragm AND why you want to! 

Let’s begin with why you want to learn how to sing with your diaphragm.

How to sing with your diaphragm

The truth is, every time air exits your lungs, your diaphragm is part of the mechanism that makes that happen. So, even singing with poor technique is technically singing with your diaphragm. Obviously, no one is suggesting you use poor technique.

What they’re trying to convey is that you want to get your power and support from your body and not from your throat, tongue, neck, etc… 

This is important because every aspect of singing that you hope to improve depends on reducing or eliminating tension in your throat area. But if you’re not getting your strength from your body, you’ll have no choice but to get it from there.

It probably goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that if you only get support from the throat area, you risk strain and vocal fatigue. 

But you rob yourself of much more than vocal cord health. Even on your best day, that tension will rob you of progress in all the areas that matter to us singers:

  • Richness of tone
  • Vocal agility
  • Increasing your range
  • Increasing your power
  • Stretching into your upper chest voice (mix voice)
  • Being able to let loose for a 4-hour gig (and still talk the next day).

Have I convinced you yet that learning how to sing with your diaphragm is of great importance?

So, then, HOW do you sing with your diaphragm?

I mentioned that anytime you exhale, your diaphragm is helping you do that. So, to say “sing with your diaphragm” isn’t a complete or accurate picture. Here is what these advice-givers would say if they had a deeper understanding of the process:

"Sing with the muscles of your diaphragm ENGAGED."

Engaging your diaphragm:

  • Makes it possible for your lungs to fully inflate.
  • Supports the flow of air to your vocal folds.
  • Allows your throat, tongue, etc… to stay relaxed.

“But Judy, you still haven’t told me HOW to do this!”

So true. What you're about to embark on is a motor skill that you’ll have to develop. Below, I’ll share with you a great way to do that (plus gain a deeper understanding of what I’m talking about). But here’s the extremely abridged gist of it.

When your ribs are expanded, the diaphragm muscles are engaged. 

If you want to get the absolute most out of your voice, you need to develop the ability to sing with your ribs expanded. The concept is that simple, but the skill has to be developed.

One way to experience the expansion is to raise your arms over your head (which opens your ribs) and then as you lower them, try to keep your ribs lifted. As you're practicing, when you notice your ribs have dropped again, you can repeat this movement.

But I have an even better and more permanent solution for you to try. 

It’s called the Singer-Athlete Workout Program. It’s a high-impact, 10-lesson online course that will transform you voice from average to incredible. And lesson one is all about singing from your core.

Check it out!

Judy Fine


Judy Fine has been a vocal and performance coach since 2007, specializing in artist development coaching for aspiring singers and confidence coaching for everyone.

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