Learning how to sing without hurting your voice is essential if you want to perform long term or professionally. Singing from the throat can be very damaging and doesn’t sound as pleasant as a properly supported voice. Some simple exercises can eradicate this.
Do you frequently lose your voice or find it becomes hoarse after a prolonged period of singing? Read on to find out which techniques can help you and how to ensure your vocals are kept strong and healthy.
How to sing without hurting your voice
Have you ever been frustrated by voice loss and persistent laryngitis? If so, you may not be singing properly. Over time, singing from your throat can lead to a hoarse and raspy sound. This is where the throat has grown tired of being kept in too tight a position. But with the right exercises and practice, this can become much looser and more relaxed, allowing strong vocals to grow.
Singing from the throat
The number one reason for vocal hurt and strain is singing from the throat. It’s common among untrained singers as we tend to automatically try and control the voice from there. But it’s actually way further down, in the diaphragm, that the work really happens.
This is what singing from the throat can sound like at the extreme end of things:
Stopping singing from your throat isn’t hard at all. From keeping your throat hydrated to learning how to relax and building-up and breathing from the diaphragm, you can strengthen your vocal sound in no time at all. This is especially important when singing high notes, as this is where the highest risk of strain comes in.
How to not sing from your throat
As a performer, learning how to stop singing from your throat is a challenge faced by many, but is not one that can’t be solved with a few simple exercises.
The diaphragm is your most important tool. Use it properly and you’ll unlock a world of power and vocal strength. The diaphragm takes the air in and out of the lungs with a flexing and contracting motion. This movement is similar to what a balloon would do if you were to repeatedly blow into it and let a little out. When singing, it’s good practice to breathe deeper than usual to keep the diaphragm super flat.
The more engaged your diaphragm is, the better control you’ll achieve of your breath as you sing out your most favourite ballads. You’ll also be able to add exciting dynamics and expression to your vocal practice too. This also means you can control at what speed you hit the notes and for how long you can sustain them. Aim for the breath to travel across the vocal cords and glide across the soft palate, blossoming into a striking vocal riff.
Take a deep breath and don’t let that breath stop and swirl within your throat and chest. If you can make sure it hits low down in your stomach, you’ll be singing from your diaphragm and not your throat. Here are some great exercises to work through.
How to stop singing from your throat
In the same way, as an athlete will train for a marathon, you have to train your voice to be able to sing for long periods.
Posture is important here and will help your diaphragm to expand. Standing straight and tall, with your hands sitting at your sides, and feet just a shoulder-width apart will have your diaphragm feeling nice and spacious. Now try this…
- Stand with your shoulder blades resting back and your knees relaxed, you are off to a flying start.
- With the right posture mastered like a professional, an exercise you can give try starts off with taking an inhale of breath (making sure one hand is on your stomach).
- Take a deep inhale, your belly should push forward like when you blow up a beach ball.
- As you exhale, you’ll feel your stomach deflate.
- Repeat 15 times to get the diaphragm feeling ready and raring to go, avoiding pushing those vocals from the throat.
How to relax your throat when singing
Relaxing your throat will help prevent strain. While you shouldn’t sing from the throat, the notes do pass through it, so it will have a huge effect on your tone. The more at ease your throat is when singing, the more open it’ll feel, allowing vocal release and steering the pressure away from your throat. This should always be a part of your warm-up.
We have muscles that travel down the back of the throat that become stiff and tighten up when we are, for example, nervous for a singing exam. These strong muscles are called ‘constrictors’ and enable us to swallow. But we don’t want them constricting when we’re singing. To understand the feeling of throat tightness and constriction, have a swallow and see how that feels. Touch your throat as you do it, so you recognise the sensation and can recognise when you’re doing in while singing.
Another way to help the throat relax is by placing your finger on your Adam’s apple or throat – your vocal cords are tucked within so you can feel if your throat starts to tighten. Now try this…
- Have a great big yawn and then some little ones. This releases the tension in the throat and allows the muscles at the back of your throat to relax.
- Next, each time you do a yawn, try to release a big sigh saying “ahhhhh” at a note that you feel best with. You might feel a bit silly, but you should also feel a sense of release.
- Try this five times and your throat should feel lots more relaxed, making way for those projecting vocals.
Singing is so much easier and more fun when your throat is relaxed.
Why does my throat close up when I sing?
Its’s normal for your throat to close up due to tension when you sing, but it’s not good. It’s all about learning to relax when singing. The more open your throat is, the easier it is to sing from the diaphragm and the better you’ll sound.
In particular, high notes or stage nerves can cause throat tightness. So be extra careful when you’re stressed or out of your comfortable range, that you’re supporting the sound with the diaphragm and deep breaths.
It can be helpful when singing high notes, to think low while singing high. Visualisation and mind techniques can, amazingly, have a big effect on the sound that comes out.
Don’t be tempted to skip over your groundwork. Make sure you regularly warm-up before singing practice, lessons and performances – this will get you off to a relaxed, well-supported sound and keep the throat at ease. Include breathing exercises and a diaphragm workout to your warm-up. If you continue to have problems with vocal strain or struggle to work through these exercises by yourself, consider taking some singing lessons or working through some online singing tutorials with a good vocal coach.
- Is it bad to sing from your throat?
Yes, it causes strain and damage long term. The number one location you should be practising singing from is your diaphragm, rather than your throat. This will protect your voice and give a clear and stronger sound to your vocals.
- How do singers keep their throat healthy?
Keeping your throat hydrated and healthy should be a priority if you are a budding singer. You can do this by making sure you always do warm-ups, take lots of water and warm soothing drinks like honey and ginger. Being healthy overall will also have an impact, so eat well and get exercise.
- How do you prepare your throat for singing?
The throat and vocal muscles need to be warmed up in the same way as the rest of our body. We need some time to wake it up and get it flowing with some breathing exercises, scales, sirens, arpeggios and vocal exercises.
How do you sing without hurting your voice? Have you had problems with singing from the throat? How have you overcome them? Let us know in the comments below.