Breath Management in Singing: Men vs. Women

Scott McCoy, DMA
Professor of Voice & Pedagogy
Westminster Choir College of Rider University
101 Walnut Lane
Princeton, NJ 08540
609.921.7100 x8104

It has long been known that singers employ a variety of methods to manage breathing. Numerous breathing techniques have been described in pedagogical literature, generally differentiated by physical sensation/location and control mechanism (e.g. clavicular, thoracic, abdominal, etc.). This presentation examines the issue of gender-specific differences in breath management. The following questions are raised:
1. Do contemporary and historical pedagogical writings on breath management vary according to the gender of the author?
2. Do male and female singers describe breath support in different ways?
3. Are male and female singers observed to manage breathing in different ways?
4. Do singing teachers approach breathing in different ways for male and female students?
5. Is there an anatomical basis for gender-specific breath management techniques?

Discussion of these questions will be based on review of pedagogical/anatomical literature, interviews with professional singers and singing teachers, and direct observation of singers in the Westminster Voice Laboratory (video and Respitrace).

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