International Vocal Coach Chuck Stewart teaching singing for 25 years
Teaching voice for over 20 years


How many times have you heard the phrase "Sing from your diaphragm"? I know I heard it for many many years. If you hear the same thing over and over, does that make it true? How long did people think that the earth is flat? Did you know that here is STILL a "Flat Earth Society"?

Physicians know what a diaphragm looks like, what it is and how it works. It makes you wonder why most singing teachers have never asked a doctor how the diaphragm functions. Why haven't they? They trusted their teachers who also were never taught simple anatomy.

Did you know you cannot feel it? Did you know that it contracts downward and PULLS in the air? Did you know that it is a muscle? Did you know that you do not "sing from it"? ASK YOUR DOCTOR. FIND OUT THE TRUTH!

In the meantime, it is good to know that your lungs are in your chest and air goes into them and not into your abdomen. If you do not allow your chest to expand as you inhale, you will not be able to fully inhale. Yes, your abdomen will move outward as the diaphragm descends and pushes down on all the organs below it, but unless you want a distended "belly", it may not be a good idea to push it out as you inhale. Also, raising your shoulders won't give you extra breathing space and it actually does the opposite.

If you want great results rather than agreement with the odd, gimicky, and sometimes useless or even harmful advice some people give, stick to the basics. Ask your doctor. I asked mine(actually several) and I got the same answers from them all.

Are you ready for this? Breathing problems aren't even the issue with most singers anyway. If this is news, then you might do research with the experts. Singing correctly is actually simple. What must be overcome is the habits which have been interfering with singing well. This does take training and the singer has to practice to form new habits which make it all come together.

 This is a medical animation of the breath cycle:



Who makes up these bizarre phrases? Who does NOT sing from their throat? Your vocal cords are not in your stomach, they are not in your diaphragm. The vibration takes place initially in your throat. You DO sing from your throat. The sound resonates in different places, depending on the pitch (which has to do with the size of the sound waves). There is a whole science called ACOUSTICS. Isn't it logical that voice teachers should have some understanding and working knowledge of ANATOMY and of ACOUSTICS? You would think so but many concentrate on imaginary imagery based on anything BUT science.

If someone tells you that you are singing from your throat, they might mean that your sound is weak or puny or not loud or thin. What they say and what they want to hear are not really related.

Do you want a big sound? There are many factors that would determine this such as your own size and shape of your resonating parts of your head, your ability to effectively use air, and understanding the acoustics behind vowel formation and using all this to your advantage. If you are an average 16 year old female, you are not going to sing bass without some radical changes. If you are a 200 pound male with a bass range, don't expect to sing the top note on the piano. Probably won't happen. You CAN safely extend your range and even get to where your voice stops cracking but it takes the right exercises in the right sequence at the right time or it probably won't happen. This I know from personal experience as a singer. Thanks to MY teacher for showing me the way and the truth.