This is a reprint of an August 2017 blogpost – I recently had a rehearsal where a conductor asked us to do this and it’s something that just goes against me. Here’s why (things I’ve added are in bold and brackets):
This morning, the subject of my meditation app involved a lot of focus on the suspension/stillness between inhalation and exhalation. The momentary pause that exists both before the initiation of each. It’s infinitesimal and you really have to be aware to notice it even exists.
I don’t really feel it and I don’t find it all that valuable. [In fact, I find it harmful.]
When I first started studying voice, I was giving vocalises that encouraged finding that suspension. Exercises that consisted of:
Inhale – 2 – 3 – 4
Suspend 2 – 3 – 4
Exhale 2 – 3 – 4
The exercise gradually increased the numbers, cautioning the singer to be aware of maintaining an open glottis rather than shutting down or being rigid during the suspension. I dutifully did this exercise, and then I taught it, when I first started teaching voice. Because that’s what you did. It was a basic vocal exercise that was included in all the pedagogy books.
But I feel as though breath is a continuous process and that to focus on what is a nearly imperceptible stopping of time creates unnecessary tension. In fact, I think that the act of extending the suspension beyond that split second reinforces the idea of “setting the breath,” as opposed to just moving through it.