Recently, I have been receiving series of emails and questions from singers on a very interesting topic, “how to overcome vocal cracks”. In my journey with working with several singers, this question has always popped up and I have always been happy resolving and answering them using my personal experiences. So permit me to take you on a journey of how I overcame my vocal cracks.
Voice cracks can be a disaster for singers. It is also be very embarrassing, especially when it happens during a performance or ministration. This is one thing most singers dread the most (totally been there, so I understand what it means).
What actually is the cause of voice cracks?
Voice cracks happens when the singing muscles stop working properly long enough before the sound stops. It can also occur when a voice is under strain, either from rapid growth of the larynx as a result of puberty. Vocal cracks can also arise from pushing the voice into higher or lower register, or even overuse of the voice.
As a singer, I once struggled with this issue in my early days of singing, and I must say it wasn’t a funny situation, so believe me when I say I understand how it feels like.
Now, how did I deal with it?
MISTAKE SINGERS MAKE THAT CAUSES VOice CRACKS
First, I will tell you the mistakes I was making, which unknown to me, was causing so much havoc to my voice. This includes;
1. Pulling up the chest voice.
Most singers, especially those without formal training, approach high notes trying to push their chest voice further up in their range when singing. By doing this, it causes the thickening of the vocal cords, which adds pressure continually to your voice.
Once the pressure is too much, the voice explodes or breaks causing the cords to thin out and resulting to weaker sound or cracks.
This I was doing so well, little wonder my voice was cracking. If that sounds familiar to you, then you just might be making the mistake I was making.
2. Lack of air flow.
Maintaining a steady flow of air especially on high notes, was one big error I kept on making. I didn’t realise early that maintaining steady air flow helps prevent the voice from cracking.
You need a good breath support when attempting to hit high notes effectively without strain. This I was lacking.
3. Not warming up properly before singing
As important as this was, I was defaulting big-time. Because I had the voice (good tone), I just felt, well, I can just sing anytime I feel like without adequately putting my voice in place. Well, I paid dearly for that, because the end product was voice cracks.
Warming up the voice is an important and vital for aspect for singers, you can’t just start a marathon without warming up. You should also know that vocal warm ups aren’t just exercises. If you don’t get it right, then your singing and voice in the long run will not be effective.
I need you to know that too much tension in your face, neck or shoulders can also cause voice cracks, so as much as possible, this should be avoided.
Well, I was also as guilty as charged.
HOW TO OVERCOME VOICE CRACKS
Now how did I overcome cracked voice after knowing the causes and all I was doing wrong?
1. First, understand why your voice is cracking.
Knowing and understanding the reason for your voice crack is key to overcoming the problem.
You need to know that cracked voice is commonly associated with a boy (male), when he is entering the puberty age. At this stage, their larynx gets bigger and the voice becomes deeper. For girls (females), cracked voice commonly occurs when the voice is strained during singing or excessive usage. Sometimes these reasons varies. You need to understand your voice and know exactly what works for you.
Cracked voice can equally be due to lack of not exercising the vocal cords and keeping them warmed up regularly before singing, especially when attempting high notes.
For me, I got to find out that whenever I had used my voice for too long, especially when I go for either a vigil, event or a performance, and I had another performance the next day, my voice definitely would crack when I sing. So I started working on that aspect.
2. Practice Diaphragmatic Breathing.
As a singer, you should know that the fuel for singing is the breath. When breathing is not done correctly, I can also assure you that it would lead to strains and then a cracked voice.
Breathing from your belly(diaphragm) when singing instead of the throat or chest will drastically help to reduce pressure from the vocal cords and larynx, thereby preventing your voice from cracking when you sing. Check out the article on Mastering Diaphragmatic Breathing to learn more.
3. Stay hydrated
Well, I never knew staying hydrated was an important factor to keeping my voice in shape and free from cracking until I experienced a very horrible incident on stage in my early days of singing.
Staying hydrated helps keep the vocal folds moist at all times, and free of friction. Drink plenty of water, as this is an important aspect of a singers life.
4. Relax your voice
The fourth thing I started doing was to rest. Rest my voice, I mean.
I didn’t realize that overworking my voice could be disastrous. Oh this was a big problem for me. I just had problem feeling relaxed, and this most times, end up causing so much tension on my voice. As an effect, it usually leads to vocal cracks and of course affects my performances.
Be calm, try not to be nervous when singing.
This is because, if you don’t, you’re sure to have problem with breathe control, blocked airflow and tension in your larynx while singing. All these you don’t need if you want to sound great. So often times, rest your voice, relax and enjoy yourself.
5. Practice regular Vocal Warm-up exercises
Lastly, I started giving vocal warm up exercises the due seriousness it deserves.
The importance of warming up your voice can’t be overemphasized. It is a necessity if you want to sound well (I actually have a series on vocal warmups. Do check it out)
Try to do some vocal humming, and exercises before every serious singing. This will help to keep your vocal cords up and alive, ready for action.
So, there you have it! I really hope you’ve learnt one or two from this. I believe this will help you in your quest to overcoming voice cracks as well.
What are your experiences as a singer? Do drop your comments and questions in the comment box. I would really love to know how this has helped you.