How do I sing from my diaphragm and not my throat?

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This is easily one of the most common questions we get from singers.

. . . but the question itself poses a small problem!

Let’s first clarify what we are talking about here:

Your diaphragm is a muscle that helps you breathe by lowering when you inhale, which allows your lungs to expand, then rising to its original position when you exhale. 

When you sing or vocalize, it’s a good idea to allow the lower part of your belly to protrude when you inhale and gently pull in when you exhale. This is sometimes referred to as “low breathing” or “diaphragmatic breathing.”

You certainly want to avoid clavicular breathing, which happens very high in the rib cage, causing your shoulders and upper chest to move violently.

Image showing the contraction and relaxation of the diaphragm

Do you know where your sound is actually produced?

Many singers search out information to help them sing “from their diaphragm” instead of “from their throat.” However, your voice does not originate in your diaphragm; it originates in . . . (drumroll, please) your throat!

Your larynx, which houses your vocal cords and the muscles involved in allowing you to change pitch, is smack in the middle of your throat, so technically, you are always singing from your throat!

This common misnomer is due to our perception: when our voice feels tight, pitchy, or unsure, singers can perceive pain or discomfort in our tense throats. But when singing is free and easy, perhaps we perceive it as coming from elsewhere in our bodies—like our diaphragm.

Instead of “singing from your diaphragm,” the solution you are actually looking for is to coordinate (or balance!) the three systems of the voice correctly.

What are those three systems and how do you start to balance them? Well check out our Start Here page for that exact information!

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Photo of Andreas Grussl
Voice instructor, vocal producer and lawyer, Andreas Grussl runs a very successful voice studio in his hometown of Graz, the second biggest city in Austria.