The stillness between the parts of the breath cycle is a powerful moment that sets up your entire vocal process. We often think that the most important part of the voicing cycle is the actual voice-making part. However, the still point before and after you make a sound is where the real magic happens. The center of every healthy tone, from the thread of your voice to the loudest sound, is completely still. We practice the sensations of stillness at the breath level to save wear and tear on our vocal folds.
- Why Stillness is Important
- Nostril to lips breathing
- Stillness, Motion and Direction
Why stillness is important
The moments of stillness between the inhale and exhale, and the exhale and inhale passes so quickly, yet it is a prime moment where you will make important voice decisions.
1. Still point is your starting point.
Breath stillness is one specific sensation that is different than any other. At a still point of no movement, you can make ONE movement that changes your entire sound. This gives you immediate control over your breath and voice.
Much the same as shifting gears for a car, you must shift into Neutral or NO gear, the still point, before you can shift into a higher or lower gear. Our "Neutral" is the still point of the breath.
In your training, you will have to distinguish between the breath motion and a movement within your vocal apparatus. It would be much more difficult if the motion of the breath and the muscles of voice production were entangled.
As your training evolves, you will engage different parts of your breathing apparatus simultaneously. The upper body moves independently of the lower body. You must have a neutral place of no movement before you can decide where to move.
2. The still point shows if you are gradually losing air pressure, (breath support).
Often you may think that your breath is still, only to find that you are leaking a very tiny amount. This small leak of breath translates to loss of breath pressure and support; similar to a small leak in a bicycle tire. When you still the breath, the least movement of air becomes apparent and you can move on to troubleshoot and mend the leak.
Consistent tone through your vocal range
One of the primary factors that determine a healthy voice technique is a consistent tone quality throughout the high, medium and low voice registers, as well as when you change volume from soft to loud.
Your resonating spaces require a steady flow of air pressure in order to sustain their open positions. If we disturb the air flow, the resonating spaces close down and this causes your voice to crack, and produce inconsistent tone.
For instance, you may sound loud in your low voice range, but soft and fuzzy in your middle. Or you may have a solid tone for one pitch while the pitch next to it is imperceptible.
Nostrils to Lips
You will determine the rate of your air and voice flow outside of your nostrils and lips.
You might think that you judge your voice quality by hearing it reverberate into the room. However, you will find a much better method is to monitor your air flow outside your nostrils and lips.
Even when you are making a big vocal sound, you will find that very little air escapes through your mouth and nose. In fact, when you wonder how and why your big inhale disappears before you even begin to speak or sing... LOOK HERE, at the air flow just under the nose.
Stillness, Motion and Direction
As your vocal instrument inflates and works more efficiently, you will feel new sensations of inner pressure. It’s common to mistake air pressure for motion, and motion for direction.
There will be times, as you increase your breathing capacity, that you will think you are absolutely SURE that your breath is still, only to test the air flow at the nostrils to find air movement.
In the middle of the mightiest sounds is this space between in, out and stillness.
It is critical to isolate this still sensation BEFORE you make a sound because onceyou vibrate the air, there are too many sensaitons to monitor. However, there is only ONE, unmistakable senstion of stillness.
This place of no sound, no breath motion is your starting place.
The best way to practice the still point between the motion of the breath is at a low and easy volume of air with the mouth closed, through the nose.
Here, you can perceive the slight movement of air current and the subtle motionof the larynx. This skill, learned at this small volume, will also work when are speaking or singing loudly, high or low.
Discovery: Stillness, Motion and Direction
Exercise: Is the breath really still?
- Focus upon the circle of the breath through the entire 360 degrees. Do not let your mind wander.
- Still the motion at a low, comfortable level and check the larynx to be sure that it remains at rest.
- Circle only about 5% of your air current in and out of your nostrils.
- Still the motion of the breath at any time and then resume the 5% circle.
You will be able to feel a slight air current out of the nostrils.
Maintain a constant air pressure level; do not gradually increase or decrease your basic breath level.
Notice the very small place where the breath moves from stillness to an inhale or exhale. This very small place is the precise point at which you will later make critical vocal decisions.
- Determine whether the air is still or in motion by feeling air current outside of the nostrils.