My Pet Hate- The Diaphragm.
I may be a pedant but…
I would like to vent some spleen about a phrase to which I am severely allergic. It is a phrase most often uttered by well meaning singing teachers, and though their hearts are usually in the right place, their phraseology grates anatomically. To be a good singing teacher I think you should have at least a superficial grip on anatomy.
Examples might be; “Sing from your diaphragm”, “get your diaphragm working” “get some power into your diaphragm”. This is usually accompanied by a prod somewhere vaguely in the middle of the abdomen. They’re right, and it produces results in the pupil, but technically, NOT CORRECT!! Let’s start by looking at the diaphragm.
It is a dome shaped muscle and membrane that separates the abdomen and thorax. Muscles only exert power in contraction and as you can see from the graphic, contracting the diaphragm will expand the chest cavity and suck air into the lungs. Sure enough, when you’re singing the diaphragm is under close control and should be tense and working very hard, but working hard against the muscles of contraction that are attempting exhalation.
And these muscles of exhalation are the abdominals.
They are working hard to push against the diaphragm, and force air slowly at a controlled pressure through the larynx.
And we can further deduce that as the abdominal cavity pressure is raised to transmit this power, we also need contraction from the pelvic floor muscles to stop things going the wrong way as it were. So the teachers that get my vote are saying, “Sing from your buttocks darling, your bottom”. Full marks!