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The most important technique in singing is "singing on the breath," as Italians say it, "Il canto sul fiato."
The actual concepts are not as easy as they sound. Most people think of it as "breathing before singing a phrase," which is not incorrect. Therefore, why couldn't we get the power, the clarity, the high/low notes, the timbre, or even the correct pitches that we desire in our singing?
How to Properly Sing on the Breath
We are all masters in breathing. We know how to breathe the moment we exist. Now, I would like for you to notice how you breathe. Take a moment and sit down; do not do anything special to your breath, simply feel it. Which part of your body changes or moves from breathing? For most people, it is the stomach. Now, if this does apply to you, please put your hand on your stomach and feel it for a moment.
You will notice when you breathe in, the stomach rises, as when you breathe out, the stomach deflates.
Now, using the same energy as to how you breathe daily, breathe in as much as you can. Remember, only use the same energy as to how you normally breathe.
Here comes the part where we sing on the breath. After you inhale to your full potential, all you want to do is to exhale. Your breath is fighting to get out of your system. You now feel your breath all over—in your chest, in your stomach, in your back, even in your head. Now, instead of breathing out, use this energy to start singing. Not many people can get it on the first try, but if you do feel it, go ahead and finish that phrase using the same energy. It is extremely important to keep up this energy throughout the entire phrase.
If you succeed, do not rush to the next phrase yet. Repeat the same process. In order to master this, it will take some practice. Some might feel light-headed, then congratulations! That means you are starting to use your breath in singing! Don't worry, this sensation will go away after you achieve it.
The same technique also applies to speaking.
What are the concepts behind "singing on the breath"?
Most of us who have interests in singing probably have heard "singing with your stomach" at some point in our lives. While it is not wrong, it does not explain anything, yet it confuses the learners. It is impossible to breathe into our stomach because our lungs are placed between our chest and our upper back. However, our bodies are built in a way that our waists and stomach are the most flexible features of our torsos. Therefore, we are able to use these flexible features full of muscles to support the breath, which also explains why the stomach is the part that moves when we inhale/exhale.
By using this energy, the breath stays behind the voice and constantly supports it. It will also allow our abdominal muscles to work and support our sounds.
Do not rush.
Do not rush. Your voice is an instrument after all. It usually takes years of practice and learning in order to play a decent tune on a violin or a piano, so please do not expect to become a master in singing after one or two days. If you rush a breath before you have achieved this technique, it will be likely that your shoulders rise instead of your stomach. Then the breath will be cut short and it will also be difficult to support. Singing is an exercise, so take your time for that full breath!
I could go on about this technique forever. As I said in the beginning, it sounds simple but it is not as easy to do. As an opera singer and voice teacher, I myself am still learning and trying to improve every day. There are more to us that contribute to our singing than only our vocal cords. Not only is this the base to good singing, it is the foundation to healthy singing.