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How To Make Singing Less Breathy In 5 Steps

Over the years, the “breathy” sound is becoming more popular amongst many modern pop songs. Singers like Ariana Grande and Billie Ellish use this technique very frequently throughout their music. And while there isn’t anything wrong with using a breathy method, being only able to sing with a breathy tone can limit yourself to what you can and cannot sing. 

So how to make your singing less breathy? 

Step 1: Understand your voice
Step 2: Sing to be heard
Step 3: Exercise the muscles in the vocal folds
Step 4: Coordinate your speaking and singing voice
Step 5: Strengthen vocal cord closure mechanism

Breathy sounds can add a lot of artistic color to a song, but learning how to sing with a clear tone is extremely important to become a well-rounded singer. In this article, I’ll discuss the causes of a breathy voice, the effects of singing too “airy”, and explain the five steps to help you make singing less breathy. 

Let’s get started! 

What Causes Breathy Singing?

To create sound with the voice, air needs to be traveling out through the vocal folds. As air passes through, the vocal folds vibrate and come together, which creates sound. But when you’re singing with a breathy voice, the vocal folds don’t sufficiently close together, which leaves a small space between each vibration. This leakage in the air is what causes the “airy” and breathy voice. 

If singing with a breathy sound is not a stylistic choice, there are a few reasons why a singer may not be able to close the vocal folds properly.

Poor Coordination

In our throats, many micro muscles need to be activated and strengthened so that singers can adequately create the sound that they want. If these muscles aren’t developed enough, there may not be enough strength to coordinate the muscles. Singers that need to fix that breathy sound need to strengthen those muscles to find the coordination so that they can close that gap in the vocal cords while they sing. 

A Tired Voice

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When singers don’t rest their bodies and voices properly, their voices weaken and can sound very breathy. As with any muscle, the vocal cords need adequate rest after a certain amount of time, and pushing it further will result in a muddy and breathy sound. 

To combat this, singers need to hydrate themselves throughout the vocal session and, most importantly, rest their voice when they’re not singing. Whenever my voice is tired and I feel my voice needs a break, I like to have throat tea from Traditional Medicinal (Amazon) to keep my voice relaxed and hydrated.

Also, getting adequate sleep will help your body and your voice feel much more energized for the next practice or gig. 

Read More: 19 Things to Avoid That Can Harm Your Singing Voice

Poor Breath Management

Breath control is one of the most critical skills that every singer should know to have a great singing voice. Being able to support your singing using proper breathing techniques will help create a stronger sounding tone. 

If you’re having trouble making your singing less breathy, try adding breathing exercises to your practice so that you know how to use enough air to support your sound. Breaths should be regulated through the abdomen area and not in the upper chest. 

Is Breathy Voice Good?

Singing with a breathy tone is not ideal for singers because it creates a weak resonance, a lower overall volume, weakens vibrato, and can damage your vocal cords if done for long periods of time. 

When the vocal folds are not coming together, the air that passes through will make the voice sound much quieter than it should. For classical and acapella singers, this can have a negative impact on their performances. The sounds won’t be as full and vibrant as it should, and will lack the necessary “oomph” in their singing. 

Also, singing with a breathy sound can quickly dry out the vocal fold, limiting the stamina of the voice. When there’s a small gap of air, the lining that helps lubricate the voice leads to faster dehydration of the vocal folds. Your vocal cords need to be nicely hydrated to produce the sounds that you want. With dry vocal cords, it can create long term damage in your voice. 

Read More: Does Working Out Help You Sing Better? Do’s and Dont’s

Steps To Make Singing Less Breathy

Step 1: Understand your voice

The first step to fixing your breathy voice is to be aware of the habit and to be able to hear how you sound. Many students aren’t able to tell the difference between a clear tone and a breathy tone. And the fact that you are in this article and reading about it means you’re aware of this issue and looking for solutions. 

Step 2: Decide to be heard

One of the most significant differences between a breathy voice and a clear voice is the strength and resonance in the vocals. As you learn how to stop singing with a breathy voice, you’re going to realize how much louder and more powerful your voice will become when singing with a robust and clear tone. 

Many beginner singers are quite timid and shy with their vocals, which is why they resort to singing with an airy voice. And over the many years, this technique can be deeply ingrained in their technical habits, making it extremely difficult to sing with solid tones later. 

Changing your mindset is important because when you decide that your vocals should be heard and NEEDS to be heard, you’ll realize how strong your voice can be. And when you do the exercises in the next few steps, you’ll feel more confident in how you sound and produce the bold sounds that will help make your voice stand out. 

Step 3: Exercise the muscles in the vocal folds

In this step, you’re learning the feeling of opening and fully closing your vocal folds so that the air doesn’t pass through when you’re producing sound. 

To do this, you can use an exercise called “the creaky gate.” 

This action may seem awkward at first, but this is a great vocal exercise to help build the coordination required to maintain proper cord closure. Make a little skittish sound, like a creaky gate or an old door opening. Then use an instrument (preferably piano) and do a scale with this sound using minimal air. The idea is not to let the sound get breathy or squeezed.

By doing this exercise, you’re drawing attention to the mechanism of your vocal folds and training your vocal folds to close correctly. 

Step 4: Coordinate your speaking and singing voice

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Many singers think that the speaking voice and singing voice are separate. This couldn’t be farther from the truth because both voices use the same methods to create sound. The speaking and singing voice uses the same instrument and muscles to create the vocals that you want. The only difference is that for singing, different artistic intensities occur like using different pitches and sustaining tones.

So because the speaking voice and singing voice uses the same principles, you can train using speech level exercises to speak the sounds on pitch, which then helps with your singing techniques. 

One speech phrase that I like to activate the mechanism of the vocal cords is “aah.” Imagine yourself being a little surprised and saying the word “aah!”. The sound is on the “aah” of “hat” and can be exaggerated by sticking the tongue ever so slightly. Do this sound on a five-tone scale. This vocal exercise is beneficial for singers who are weak or breathy in their lower register.

Read More: 21 Simple Tips on How To Sing Better Quickly

Step 5: Strengthen vocal cord closure mechanism

Once you’ve learned the fundamentals of singing with a less breathy voice, it’s time to strengthen and build the muscles necessary to sing consistently with a clearer voice. Two vocal exercises that I recommend are “Lip Trills” and the “Nay” exercise. 

Lip Trills

Gently push up the lips like you’re about to kiss. Put both index fingers on your cheeks and push them towards each other so that your lips are “squished” together. Slowly blow air out through the mouth. As you do so, the lips should start to trill. The bubbling of the lips will help with strengthening your cord closure technique. 

The “Nay” Exercise

Another good exercise to build up your cord closure technique so that you sing less breathy is the “Nay” exercise. The “N” sound will automatically force all your cords to get together while the “AY” makes that nasal quality. If you put it all together, the nay keeps the cords closed up properly. This exercise also helps you find your mixed voice, which is excellent for singing in the higher registers without straining your vocals. 

If you want to learn how to sing high notes without hurting yourself, you can check out an article I wrote: 17 Tips On How To Sing High Notes Without Straining Your Voice. You’ll definitely find something there to help you sing higher! 

Final Thoughts 

Learning how to sing less breathy is an essential step in being able to sing many types of songs. All these different steps and exercises will take some time before you build up consistent cord closure for your voice. 

As you’re practicing, take ample amounts of rest so that you don’t over-train and tire out your vocal cords. With consistency and daily implementation with these steps, you can become a more versatile singer and unleash your powerful tone as you build your singing skills.

Do you want to improve your singing and learn how to hit those high notes without straining your voice? CLICK HERE to get a FREE trial with 30 Day Singer!

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