What is Meant by “Sing from the Diaphragm”?


Coaches and singers are accustomed to using metaphors and other cues to assist with singing. Not all of them make sense.

One of the most confusing is “Sing from the diaphragm!”. Sometimes, it’s just “more diaphragm!” or “push down on the  diaphragm”!

I love the use of metaphor to help with singing technique, but this one has never worked for me. Not only is it non-sensical, but as you’ll hear in the video, it is asking for the exact opposite of what the coach wants when they say it.



The coach wants the student to increase air pressure. Fine. there’s just one problem.

The sole purpose of the diaphragm is to decrease air pressure. A better phrase sometimes used is “more support”. Yet, the singer may still be confused as to how to correctly add this thing called “support”.

You might say, “but as long as they do what the coach wants, what does it matter what they say?”. Good point. The problem is, there are times when you need to increase the activity of the diaphragm to slow the release of air, to reduce air pressure. You can’t use the same instruction for two opposite actions.


What’s The Takeaway?

You can’t sing from your diaphragm so stop trying. It’s one of your inhale muscles. There are better cues and metaphors to fix what’s happening.

Be well,
Joe Naab, Vocal Nebula

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