Breathing support

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Breathing support ( Italian appoggio ) describes the controlled breathing technique when singing or playing a wind instrument . The term is understood very differently, as the different musical instruments and the human voice require different breathing techniques. In general, however, it is always a consciously muscular exhalation technique, which ultimately leads to the tone sounding in the desired way. With the breathing support, as a rule, more muscle groups ( abdominal , chest and back muscles ) are actively operated than with normal breathing , and it is an essential prerequisite for correct voice approach .

Demonstration of the small amount and low speed of breathing air when singing with the aid of a candle flame

The acoustician Fritz Winckel defined the support (in relation to the singing) as follows:

“Support is the hold that the inhalation muscles oppose to the collapse of the breathing container. The purpose of the support is to reduce the subglottic pressure necessary for phonation to the critical pressure (optimal operating pressure). "

Breathing technique

The two types of breathing described below are available to humans: chest breathing and abdominal breathing. Physiologically, what is known as Costo-abdominal breathing, a combination of chest and abdominal breathing , is recommended .

Chest breathing

Chest breathing takes place with the intercostal muscles. Contraction of the outer intercostal muscles leads to expansion, their relaxation leads to narrowing of the rib cage, contraction of the inner intercostal muscles leads to constriction, their relaxation leads to expansion of the thorax. Additionally, e.g. B. when exhausted, other chest and neck muscles can be used for breathing, such. B. the scalene muscles or, after propping up (fixation) the arms, the serratus anterior muscle .

Abdominal breathing

Abdominal breathing works on the basis of the diaphragm, a muscle plate that separates the chest and abdomen - and through the tension of which the lungs can expand in the direction of the abdominal cavity.

Support process

Careful care of the breathing support is of particular importance. They compress the air flow in such a way that it receives the necessary internal pressure to cause the vocal folds to resist as an "exciting force" and to make them function properly. The correct breathing support is based on a relaxed interplay between the lower diaphragm and slightly raised chest muscles (for this reason, one differentiates between the diaphragm support and the chest support). Normal resting breathing is a combination of both breathing positions (chest and abdominal breathing), whereby the respective characteristics depend on gender, age, physical condition, constitution and habit. With voluntary deep breathing, a large part of the lung volume is exhausted - when speaking, however, the air flow through the articulation has to be interrupted again and again and thus the entire air capacity cannot be used immediately.

Common breathing mistakes and misunderstandings

The most common breathing errors are

  • excessive use of auxiliary exhalation muscles (e.g. abdominal muscles - "abdominal press")
  • frequent use of the expiratory reserve volume ("pulling over" the exhalation arc)
  • breathing too short,
  • restless breathing,
  • bad breath balance and
  • missing appoggio (support)
  • the term “support” may lead to the idea of ​​something too solid. That is why the more concrete term “breath retention force” is recommended (see above quote from Fritz Winckel). Fritz Winckel's definition and the term “breath retention force”, on the other hand, describe in a less ambiguous manner that the Appoggio is a metering of the exhalation mainly using the inhalation muscles.


  • Günther Habermann: Voice and Language. 2nd Edition. Thieme, Stuttgart 1986, ISBN 3-13-556002-3 .
  • Helmut Martinetz: The sounding business card . Lit, Münster 2005, ISBN 3-8258-8398-1 .
  • Elke Gallenmüller: The importance of breathing support for wind players . In: Musikphysiologie und Musikermedizin , 11th year (2004), No. 3, p. 109 ff. ( Online ; PDF; 152 kB).