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Ep. 28 “Bad To Be Breathy?”- Voice Lessons To The World

Ep. 28 “Bad To Be Breathy?”- Voice Lessons To The World

♬ Hi everybody! My name is Justin Stoney,
and I’m the founder of New York Vocal Coaching
here in New York City. Welcome to episode 28 of
Voice Lessons To The World. The show where we want to
help you guys as singers by answering your
questions from all over. And I’ll give you a chance
to ask questions later, but our question for this week comes
from Nadia T. in St. Petersburg, Russia. And Nadia writes, “Dear Justin,
I’ve been told that it’s bad for me to sing breathily. Is it really unhealthy for
my voice if I sing breathy?” Now that’s a great question, Nadia. And I really appreciate
that question. A lot of people think
that breathiness is bad. So we’re going to talk
about that today, about whether or not
breathiness can hurt your voice. So is it bad
to be breathy? First of all, let’s make sure
we know what breathiness is. This voice that I’m using right here,
this is not a breathy voice. But if I let some air
pass through my voice, this then becomes
a breathy voice. Okay, so you can hear that
difference in my speaking voice. Now let me just flat out tell you the
answer to your question, Nadia. No, it’s not bad
to be breathy, okay? It’s a common thinking about
the voice, that breathiness is bad or dangerous
or harmful. And I just don’t want you
guys to be afraid of it. It’s definitely not something
that you want to do all the time. But it certainly isn’t
something to be afraid of. I think a lot of people, because
they’ve heard what you’ve heard, are actually afraid
of breathiness. Now there’s a lot of things
that the voice can do that people think
are unhealthy. Belting, vocal fry, breathiness,
even a high larynx. And these are things
that of course, if one were to do all the time,
could be unhealthy. And breathiness is one of those
things that could be unhealthy for you. But there’s nothing
inherently unhealthy about it. It’s a natural part of
your vocal function. So anything done
in moderation or for a specific reason,
and done in control, can be just fine for your voice,
including breathiness. Now we’ve done this in the
past, we talked about this, and a lot of beginners, a lot of
people that are starting off, their voices are just breathy
because they haven’t learned how to be solid, how to make
strong, clean, closed, sounds. If you’re a beginner,
and you’re starting off, I do want you to not go
breathy all the time. It’s going to really limit
what you’re doing. But if you’re more advanced
and you need breathiness as a part of your style, you shouldn’t be afraid of it hurting
your voice, or ruining your technique, especially if you do it healthily,
and you do it within moderation. Okay, so one more thing
just so that you can know more about
what breathiness is, and why it’s not
necessarily unhealthy. You have your
two vocal cords, we’ll talk more
about this in the future, and they’re controlled in the
back by the arytenoid cartilages. Whoa. And those bring
the cords together. They’re the muscles that bring
the backs of the cords together. When my cords are separate,
there’s less distance between those cartilages. When it’s clean
there’s even less. And then when I go
compressed like this, there’s an even
tighter seal. So we’re talking about
how much we’re going to be sealing the vocal cords when
we’re talking about breathiness. So that’s all it is. When you go for a breathy sound
you’re basically relieving some of the pressure,
the compression, on the backs of your vocal cords,
on the cartilages in the back. So that’s what it is. Now it’s really an important
thing for you to know as far as style. If I take a song like, “Name,”
by the Goo Goo Dolls, this is a song that’s just
really not going to sound quite right without breathiness. So I have this song… ♬ ♪ And even though the moment passed me by ♪ ♪ I still can’t turn away ♪ It’s a breathy production. If I did a clean production
of a rock song like that- ♪ And even though the moment passed me by ♪ That really doesn’t
sound right at all. Or with vibrato within
a clean sound… ♪ And even though the moment passed me by ♪ …would sound even weirder. So being able to
make my voice breathy, is actually going to
be really important. ♪ And even though the moment passed me by ♪ ♪ I still can’t turn away ♪ and I get into
my rock sound. So, that’s just an example of
where in a rock sound- and you can hear this in pop,
maybe even in broadway- where a breathy tone is
going to be necessary to make the song
sound like what it is. Now, it’s not
just style though. There’s other benefits
to being breathy. There is, of course,
head voice, we know is a kind of lighter and maybe
airier sound than chest voice. It’s not as full of a sound. When your voice
goes to head voice, the cords do tend to
get a little bit more separate. So by having the
skill of separation, you can actually invite head voice
into more of your middle range. This is why breathiness
can actually benefit the voice. Also, like I say, it’s
reducing that compression. So this is going to give you a
greater control over your compression. Right? If I know how to make
my voice really tight, or a little bit tight,
or not tight at all, then I have control
over my compression. That’s going to be a
really, really handy skill. And then finally for those voices that have tended towards too
much squeeze and too much grip, if I have that ability to be
breathy, to relieve the compression, then that’s also going to help me
be less tight with my singing. So there’s a lot of
technical benefits as well as stylistic benefits
to being breathy. So again,
Nadia, and all, I don’t want you to just
run haywire with breathiness. Again, anything done in extremes,
could be harmful to the voice. Even operatic sounds- There are opera singers
who hurt their voices. You can overdo anything,
breathiness included. Beginners, like I say, might want
to stay away from breathiness, you want to get your voice
clean and solid first. But I just don’t want people
to have this myth that they just cannot be breathy or else they’re
going to injure their voices. It’s a totally appropriate function of
both style and of technique. So, Nadia, just don’t be afraid
to experiment with it. Get with a great
voice teacher in your area who can show you how to
do it well and healthily. And just one more thing,
just make sure that you don’t equate
breathiness with breath. If you’ve shoved lots of air through
a breathy situation, that’s probably going to
be pretty uncomfortable. So I hope that’s been helpful
for you guys today as singers. If you have questions you’d
like us to answer on the show you can send an email to:
[email protected]
[♪] We just encourage you not to
lose that joy and that passion.
[♪] Don’t stop working hard on your voice
and trying some new things.
[♪] Don’t be afraid to try
new ideas and new concepts.
[♪] You might just find some new
discoveries in your voice,
[♪] like with breathiness.
[♪] Get with a great voice
teacher in your area.
[♪] Or if you guys are in
New York City,
[♪] you can check us out at:
[♪] And if you like these
videos you can check out:
[♪] I’m Justin Stoney.
[♪] We’ll see you next time.
[♪] ♬

36 thoughts on “Ep. 28 “Bad To Be Breathy?”- Voice Lessons To The World”

  1. Why is the lesson in MONO mode? The loud intro music is in stereo however the actual lesson is in mono and It seems to come from only one speaker.

  2. I like singing my low notes in a breathy manner, but the sound isn't breathy, it's just fatter and fuller, but I release the air too fast so run out of it quickly, not being able to end the phrase the proper way (more like chocking myself at the end). is there any way I can expand that time in a breathy manner?

  3. I´m a tenor.. My low voice sounds a bit breathy… Any exercise available to remove the excess of air..

  4. every time i try to belt like frank Sinatra my voice sounds airy in my belting register how can I  not sound airy In my belting register

  5. hello Justin,
    i enjoyed virtually all of your videos. please keep up the good work. i just want to point out that the piano is too loud whenever you try to sing and play at the same time. It would be better if you could reduce the piano volume especially when you are trying to show us few tips.
    Thanks Justin and God bless You.

  6. Thank you! I've always wondered what "breathy" is. I've always been told I have a breathy voice. I love your videos btw. 🙂

  7. i Cought a bad illness for 20 months in throat but now im back again therefore i sound alittle breathy, any suggestion?

  8. I am working with a teacher. I can sing well with a nice tone however I sing breathily not as a stylistic choice but more as a beginner’s habit. It makes it hard for me to sustain the notes and maintain a clean solid note. What should I tell my vocal coach for specific exercises? I feel my range is very limited because my chest voice reliably goes up to D4. D#4 and E4s become very unreliable.

  9. I have to say that I admire Justin for demistifying so many things about music, while I have to admit I have met so many musicians who tend to mistify everything and act as Gods.God will reward Justin for sharing his gift with so many common people.

  10. I thought myself to talk slow and breathy because I really love that voice… uh… Should I stop? I really want to keep talking like that.

  11. I'm a beginner and struggle with being too breathy but overall I like the sound better if it has more air in it than if it was just tone. For me Ave Maria is much better with a fair amount of air than with just a pure strong tone. And that's what I try to do.

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