Singing for lung health

What happens in a singing for lung health session?

Singing for lung health sessions will cover a variety of breathing exercises, songs and relaxation techniques. On this page we give you an idea of what to expect from a singing for lung health session and how you can get involved in a singing group.

Singing for lung health sessions are designed to be enjoyable and stimulating, as well as to help with your symptoms.

Warm-up

The session will start with a warm-up to prepare your body for activity and get you ready to sing. This will probably include:

  • physical warm-ups
  • breathing exercises
  • vocal exercises such as rhythm and pitch games (exercises like tongue twisters and singing up and down notes of the scale)

The breathing exercises will help you to control your feelings of breathlessness and coordinate your breath with movement. Warming up also helps to get your voice ready to sing. When singing you use muscles all over your body, so it’s very important to warm up.

Songs

Your singing for lung health leader will choose songs that are suitable for people with a lung condition, as well as being fun. Some songs will be sung in a call and response format so you can listen and repeat what the leader sings without having to read or think about what’s coming next.

Want to see more of what you can expect from a singing group? Watch this short film and hear first-hand how singing can help improve your breathing and wellbeing.  

Exercises for you to try at home!

First, make sure you’re comfortable and ready for your singing exercises. Sit at the front of a hard chair (like a kitchen table chair). Notice your breath and any tension in your body. Picture the tension melting away.

If you can, stand up with your feet hip width apart and your arms by your side. Stretch your arms up and yawn. Repeat.

Lift your shoulders to your ears and let them drop with a big huffing sound. Repeat.

Circle your shoulders (one at time). Do 2 circles in one direction, then 2 the other way.

Make a deep sigh, as if you’ve just got into a warm bath.

Put a ‘sh’ sound onto your sigh, like a wave. At the end, relax and release your stomach muscles to let the breath back in.

Now, turn this into singing a long ‘shee’ sound. Relax your tummy at the end to let the breath back in. Place your hands on your belly and imagine a rope passing through you like a tail. Imagine someone pulling on the rope as you sing ‘shee’ to a count of 4, then the rope is released and your stomach springs back. Repeat 6 times.

Picture the rope again and sing ‘I can sing for one’, ‘I can sing for one, two’, ‘I can sing for one, two, three’ – see how far you can get. Don’t forget to release the rope (and your stomach muscles) at the end of each phrase.

Want to sing a song? Pick one and have fun! Notice where you need to take a breath and think about the rope pulling in and releasing to help your breathing.

Don’t worry about what you sound like – what it feels like is most important!

You can buy this Singing for Breathing CD from the Royal Brompton. It contains warm-ups, breathing and vocal exercises and songs. It’s not a substitute for a singing session, but if you can’t attend or would like to practice at home it’s a good place to start.

How can I join a singing group?

You don’t need any musical ability or experience to join a singing group. Some people are reluctant to give it a go because they feel they can’t sing.

“Give it a go. You don’t have to be a good singer, you just have to want to help try and improve yourself." Lynne

But you don’t need to be an amazing singer to benefit from learning the breathing exercises, singing in a group, and meeting other people with a lung condition. And you may find that you can sing better than you think!

You can search for a group near you or call our helpline on 03000 030 555, Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm. The groups listed are either supported by the BLF or independent.

  • a BLF-supported group is described as “led by a local singing leader who has taken part in our singing programme”. This means the leader has been trained to lead singing groups for people with lung conditions.
  • We list some independent singing groups so as many people as possible can access this type of support. You may find joining an independent singing group or choir fun, but we can’t comment on their ability to improve your health or wellbeing.

Find the nearest singing group for lung health near you

How can I become a singing for lung health leader?

If you’re interested in becoming a singing group leader, you can take part singing for lung health training with The Musical Breath.

The Musical Breath was established by Phoene Cave, who created and delivers the BLF singing for lung health training. The Musical Breath operates throughout the UK. It delivers training and workshops using respiratory, music and voice specialists.

We use your comments to improve our information. We cannot reply to comments left on this form. If you have health concerns or need clinical advice, call our helpline on 03000 030 555 between 9am and 5pm on a weekday or email them.

Download our singing for lung health PDF (72KB)

Last medically reviewed: September 2020. Due for review: September 2023

This information uses the best available medical evidence and was produced with the support of people living with lung conditions. Find out how we produce our information. If you’d like to see our references get in touch.