The role of the epigastrium in breath management for singers



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Epigastric assistance is a breath management system for singing, that functions as a means for activating the requisite muscles needed for breathing, monitoring the action of these muscles, and regulating subglottal pressure. The manner in which the breath is managed determines how the vocal folds vibrate, this ultimately influencing the quality of sound produced. This fact alone demands a thorough investigation and understanding of breath management and the importance of the role of the epigastrium. In order for the reader to understand the role of the epigastrium in breath management, it is necessary to be familiar with the following information: 1) a definition of the epigastrium, 2) an understanding of the physiology of breathing, 3) a review of the literature that addresses breath management and the role of the epigastrium, 4) a perspective on the importance of epigastric assistance for the teacher and student, 5) an understanding of how subglottal compression affects phonation, and 6) a knowledge of scientific research that furthers the understanding of epigastric assistance. This knowledge will allow the understanding of the concept of epigastric assistance to be defined in the totality of singing. The primary focus of this treatise is a research study that measures the effects of epigastric activity upon respiratory and acoustical output. The results from the respiratory trials indicate that the subjects with a functional understanding of breath management experienced longer duration, greater volume of air, and a more efficient rate in the use of the air. However, for non-singers and those without breath management experience, there was decreased duration, less volume of air, and a less efficient rate in the use of air. Changes in the acoustics for both singers and non-singers with epigastric assistance included an increase in harmonics, greater intensity in the fundamental and harmonics, more consistency in the harmonics, and the addition of high harmonics at and above 1100 hertz. The results of this work reveal the importance of epigastric activity in singing and point to the need for further research, study, and discussion.