Date of Award


Degree Type


First Advisor

Christopher Swanson, D.M.A.

Second Advisor

Ryan Hebert, D.M.A.

Third Advisor

Patricia Lust, D.M.A.


Breathing is the foundation for all phonation, but the means for achieving the best use of the breath in singing is debatable. Prescribed methods range from Cornelius Reid, who stated that "breathing can be mastered by students of no more than an average intelligence and ability within a very short time,"(Reid Bel Canto 145) to Richard Miller who described the muscles and organs of respiration in great detail and provided pages of detailed exercises to develop the breath support for singing. Samuel H. Nelson reminded his readers that every student is individual and may have differences in the breathing apparatus and methods that work best for that student. "It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that there is one right way to breathe" (Nelson 76). Each student requires a teacher's best knowledge to understand the best practice for his or her individual voice. It is the voice teachers' responsibility to digest all of the varying and often contradictory information available and to discern the best practice for their students. High school students may depend solely on their choral teacher for music education and vocal training. It is vital, that the high school choral director provides a solid vocal pedagogical foundation for vocal health and growth.

Choral teachers must assist the individual students in a high school chorus to assimilate the basics of proper breathing techniques within the group setting. As individuals of the chorus develop clarity of tone and the ability to sustain and energize tone with the breath, the chorus will improve as a group. It is imperative that the chorus teacher creates an atmosphere that fosters the individual and teaches positive healthy vocal techniques in the classroom. If choral students learn good breathing techniques within the group setting similar to the way private vocal students are taught in the vocal studio, then the individual singers' ability will improve and the choral group will improve as well. In the following study, the author will describe a practical method for teaching healthy breathing techniques to students in a classroom setting in order to improve individual vocal technique and thus improve the sound of the choral ensemble.


Choral Instructor, Martinsville City Schools

Martinsville High School

351 Commonwealth Blvd.

Martinsville, Virginia 24112

2008 Breckenridge.mp4 (718134 kB)
Public presentation

breckenridgec_abstract_2008.pdf (20 kB)



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