Breathing exercises

Place your hand on your diaphragm, just below your ribs. Take a deep breath in through your nose, making sure that you do not tighten or raise your shoulders. You should feel your diaphragm contract.

Stand with your feet about hip width apart and your bottom tucked under you. With your hand on your diaphragm, breathe in through your nose for five seconds. Hold your breath for 10 seconds and then breathe out through your mouth steadily for five seconds. Practise pushing out the breath for longer and then with a voiced vowel sound, such as ‘ahh’, ‘oo’ or ‘ee’.

You can do as above while counting out loudly, with a clear and supported voice, for as long as you can. When you’ve run out of breath, you should feel a new breath naturally ‘drop in’.

Lie on your back and focus entirely on your breathing. As the breath is released, hum a continuous note without forcing it. Repeat this and see if you can do it for longer each time.

Place your hand on your diaphragm and pant like a dog. As you do this for some time you will find that the muscle begins to ache. This is an excellent exercise for making your diaphragm much stronger.

Resonance

Your body is, in effect, a large loudspeaker. Produced correctly and without tension, the sound you make will vibrate in your body so that it’s rich, full-bodied and carries well. There are two main areas of resonance in the body.

Chest resonance

This is when the sound vibrates in your chest. Lower pitched notes tend to resonate here. Hum out and then open the hum into a vowel sound. Play with the sound, bringing it back to a hum often. Keep your hand on your chest as you do so. You should feel the sound vibrate. Experiment with a range of notes and sounds until you can feel this happening.

Head resonance

This is where higher notes resonate. Make a sustained high-pitched humming sound and place a hand on your forehead, just above your nose. Try and imagine the sound filling that area and that you are pushing the sound forwards. Feel around your face, neck and the top of your head to see where the sound is vibrating. Practise both these exercises for a voice that is strong, rounded in tone and pleasant to the ear.