Support for singing refers to the system of muscles that powers the air and forces it past our vocal cords when we sing or even speak. The muscles you choose to do this work will greatly influence the quality of your voice. When you engage the strong muscles of your lower body, you achieve the same desirable qualities we hear on the radio every day in our favorite singers.
The voice qualities generally considered to be assets to successful singers, are described as: rich, full, mellow, soothing, warm, clear, precise, commanding, edgy, in control, and sincere. When these qualities are found present in a singing voice, chances are good that it has a lot to do with support.
The one and only sign I have posted in my voice studio reads: IT’S THE SUPPORT, STUPID. The sign is there to remind not only my students, but also myself, that if the support isn’t right, nothing works well for a singer. When the support is in place and working, at least a singer will have a shot at producing a good tone and good intonation.
This all ties in with the breathing. I frequently reference how important I feel support is to good singing. And, good low abdominal breathing is imperative for good low abdominal support. You must learn to target your sound towards your lower abdominals. Now, I realize there are no actual lungs down there but it feels like there are. This is where your imagination comes into play. Wherever you put the air in your body is where you will press to push it out to make a sound.
If instead, you breathe high into your shoulders and power your voice from the upper body, shoulders, neck, and throat, you wind up with a voice that may be perceived as: nasally, thin, shallow, whiney, grating, squeaky, whispery, raspy, pinched and insincere. This can be deadly for a performing singer.
Breathing and support work hand in hand. Don’t forget; whichever part of the body you direct the air into is where you will apply pressure to force it out when you sing. It’s easy to understand why it’s so important to let your air flow into the lower part of your body. Applying more lower-body strength will give your voice a richer, fuller sound.
Something else magical happens when you engage lower body muscles. Others sense that you have a strong commitment to what you are singing. Your audience wants to feel that you stand firmly behind the emotions you are trying to express. They will be more inclined to believe in you when you sing using your entire body. If your breathing and support are shallow, that’s exactly how you’ll sound-shallow.