Are you breathing?

I saw a Judy Garland documentary some years ago in which one of her film industry friends recalled her talking about her pill addiction. She told him that she felt like the pills were making her “dumb” and she said, “Sometimes, I forget to breathe.”

WOW! I thought… How could one of the greatest voices ever forget to breathe?

The great tenor, Luciano Pavarotti, once said, “To breathe is the most simple thing, and yet, the most difficult.” For most living beings, breathing is a given. It is an involuntary bodily function, to inhale and exhale.

But take an exercise or dance class, do yoga or a guided meditation, play a wind instrument… or SING, and your breathing becomes a voluntary thing. You are thinking about inhaling to fill your lungs with much-needed oxygen. You are thinking about exhaling to execute that move or play/sing that note.

For singers, breathing is a choice. We choose to breathe in order to produce tone; to adjust that tone in pitch, volume, or dynamic; or to sing through phrases. If we are singing with a cold or respiratory condition, we have to use the breathing techniques we have been taught (or cultivated on our own).

As we enter the second month of a new year, we must remember to breathe in order to sing well through this time that is already bringing stress and uncertainty. So, no matter what life throws your way in 2020… don’t forget to breathe.

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