Students of the BreathingRx methodology remember the 5 steps because it is forward thinking and Dr. Seussian. 'ART-IM' stands for Awareness, Release, Techniques, Integration, and Mastery. The steps are
both sequential and concurrent at times. Everyone starts at the first step, awareness.
Awareness is becoming aware of your structure, and its components. Awareness is the first step of any physical learning model. Knowing your tension, where it collects and how it operates is crucial to releasing it.
Suzie: Tension Restricts Singing
Suzie was singing beautifully when she first came to me, but she could not sustain a high note. Suzie is a slight woman with a sweet soprano voice, thinly produced. When I watched Suzie sing, I noticed that she seemed to be working hard to get air.
Two weeks later, Suzie came back and while her voice was still thinly produced, she was able to sustain a high note and there was no observable effort being spent to bring in air. I taught Suzie the following exercise and she practiced it once each day for two weeks. Suzie gained enough awareness to effortlessly let the air into her system before she sings.
1. Lay down with head flat and pillows under the knees, (you may choose to put a small pillow under your head to get it into a neutral position).
2. Place your hands with your fingers slightly overlapping on your lower abdomen. Close your eyes.
3. Relax so your mouth opens and let the air come in and out through both mouth and nose.
4. Notice how your hands move as your body expands and contracts in passive inhale and exhale.
5. Let yourself breathe as passively as possible for 2-3 minutes. (Set a timer).
6. Ask yourself these questions to raise your awareness:
- Were your hands moving up and down or out toward your sides as you inhaled and exhaled?
- Did the movement of your hands change over the course of the 2 minutes?
- Were you breathing mostly through your mouth or your nose? Did that change?
- Did you notice tension in your body that you may not have noticed when you first laid down? (Abdomen, upper chest or shoulders for example.)
Suzie noticed that she had tension in her chest. When she started Suzie was not able to feel her fingers move apart (instead of up) for the first 90 seconds, but by the third day and each successive day, her fingers were moving apart earlier and earlier in the exercise, demonstrating that she was allowing in more air passively.
Doing this exercise each day for just 14 days increased Suzie’s capacity. Try it yourself and see what happens before you watch the video below :)
Steven Flam is the developer of the groundbreaking teaching technique called BreathingRx For Singers which includes diaphragm target training. For more information or to debate the content of this article please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.