Singing with a breathy, airy voice is a tonal mistake that many new singers make when trying to make their voice sound of good quality. Good vocal tone does not depend solely on breathing exercises; oftentimes, a breathy voice is a result of the vocal folds in the throat that do not close completely before singing. Singing too long in this manner can cause the vocal lips inside the folds to swell, causing irritation and a weaker singing voice. With some dedication, however, a singer can learn to reduce the airy quality in his singing voice.
Learn new breathing techniques. It is often said that singing from the belly is not good and that you should sing from the diaphragm. While this is true, there is a breathing technique called appoggio that will help eliminate airiness. You want to raise your sternum before inhalation. To get into this practice, raise your arms above your head before singing; as you inhale and feel your ribs expand. As you sing, exhale; do not inhale. You should feel your rib cage expand as you repeat this process. Once you are used to the process, do not continue to raise your arms above your head.
Get plenty of rest. When your body becomes tired, it becomes more difficult for you to deal with vocal strain. Set a regular sleep schedule and adhere to it, and try to maintain a healthy diet.
Drink plenty of water. Dehydration can lead to a breathy, airy voice. Also, do not drink milk before singing as it causes a mucus buildup in the throat.
Practice vowel sounds. The best way to tell if you’ve improved on airiness is to sing vowels in front of a lit candle. If the candle flame wavers back and forth, you are still experiencing problems with airiness. If the flame remains still, you are improving. A good singing sound to make during this test is "Gi," which is pronounced "ghee."
Stop imitating popular singers and develop your own style. Some popular singers have breathy voices. However, the fact that they are popular does not mean they are using proper technique. If you do sing along with CDs, sing in your own voice and do not imitate.
Take singing lessons or hire a vocal coach. There is only so much that you can do on your own to improve vocal technique. Even taking just a few lessons can improve your singing voice and style greatly.
- Breathiness in young singers may simply be caused by their growing bodies, and they may not be able to fully control it until after puberty is reached. If you haven't reached puberty yet, don't push yourself.
- Stop and take a break whenever you feel strain in your throat or vocal cords. Pushing through the discomfort can damage the vocal cords.
Dori Pinkerton is a writer based in New Haven, Conn. Her articles have appeared in the "Lancaster New Era" newspaper. Pinkerton is currently attending Yale University, as well as pursuing her Bachelor of Science in nursing at Southern Connecticut State University, with concentrations in psychology and German.