Have you experienced voice cracks when singing? You’re not alone — it’s a common challenge, but one that can be fixed with proper warm-ups. Read on for helpful advice from online voice teacher Emmanuel N...
Whether you are a beginner or an advanced singer, your voice can crack. This is usually due to the lack of a good vocal warm-up, but sometimes it is also due to your vocal cords not being used for singing a certain note/run/riff/etc. If you’re a beginner please allow me to quickly explain said statement:
- Vocal warm-ups are necessary to help your “cold” vocal cords “warm” up so that they’re more flexible instead of being tight and firm – which means less control.
- When you’re hitting a note you don’t hit that often, your vocal cords are not used to moving that way to produce said note. The more you practice, the more you get used to it and the less your voice will crack.
Vocal warm-ups are necessary before singing so that your vocal cords are nice and flexible. Always do warm-ups, especially in the morning, so that you can sing to your full potential – never go all out right away or else you will strain your voice. We’ve all heard or seen people who do the “me-me-me-me’s” or “do-re-mi’s” when warming up before a performance. Those are one type of vocal warm-ups, chromatic scales, which is basically going up a scale then down the scale (going up higher and then going lower). Vocal warm-ups can be almost anything you want, depending on the types of songs you’re going to sing.
My Own Warm-Ups
I have a couple of vocal warm-ups that I do that help me much more than chromatic scales. One warm-up is singing along to songs I listen to but in a range I’m more comfortable with. For example, if I am singing to “We Belong Together” by Mariah Carey, I sing it in a lower pitch (i.e. “male version”) because singing lower notes is very comfortable for me. Also, as a bonus, I don’t go all out and hit all the runs or melismas (the “fancy” stuff the singer does toward the end) when I am warming up so that my voice can ease in. A second warm-up I do is really simple: Create a playlist of songs you love singing to and arrange them from easiest to sing to most difficult to sing. When your voice is all warmed up, start the playlist. Sing along to every song and by the time the difficult songs come up, your voice should be very well warmed up.
But What If I Did All the Warm Ups and My Voice STILL Cracks?
This is perfectly normal, no need to fret. If your voice cracks just keep practicing until your vocal cords get used to singing a certain song or part of a song. Usually, if your voices cracks when singing it’s due to the following:
- Lack of warm-ups
- Lack of control (usually when trying to sustain notes — belting)
- Singing outside our range (notes lower or higher than our vocal range)
- Anxiety or nervousness
- Too much strain
We covered the warm-ups, now it’s time for the others.
Lack Of Control
Lack of control in belting means your voice isn’t able to hold a note. Belting relies heavily on your ability to control your voice and hold the note without it shaking, going flat/sharp, or your voice cracking.
Singing Outside Your Range
We all have unique vocal ranges – some of us can sing only one octave, others up to six octaves. We can train and our vocal ranges can expand, but it takes time. Until then, our voice tends to crack whenever we sing outside our vocal range. If we try hitting a high note or low note that we usually cannot sing comfortably then most likely our voice will crack.
This one is simple. When we are nervous or anxious our vocal cords tend to tense up and our control level shoots down, leading to lots of voice cracks when singing.
Too Much Strain
Another simple one. When we are singing and we try too hard, we tend to cause stress and strain on our vocal cords. This one is a bit more dangerous because not only will our voices crack more often but we can cause damage if we are pushing our vocal cords beyond their limit. NEVER force out notes. NEVER force yourself to hit high or low notes. And NEVER force yourself to hold a note.
How Do I Get Help With This?
Now you know what causes cracks, but how do you get help with your voice cracking? Simple, hire me as your tutor and I’ll help strengthen your vocal cords.
Emmanuel M. teaches singing and songwriting exclusively online. A California State University, Fullerton graduate and native Spanish speaker, he also teaches essay writing, study skills, and Spanish. Learn more about Emmanuel here!
Photo by Idalí Beltré Acevedo