If you’re going through puberty, struggling with a cough and cold, or are new to vocal technique, you may be wondering: why does my voice crack when I sing? It can be alarming if you’re unused to it, but there are ways to fix it and have a healthy voice.
Are you struggling with inconsistency and breaks in your vocals? In this article, we’ll teach you how to stop it happening, as well as how to prevent vocal fatigue.
Why does my voice crack when I sing?
There are a number of reasons your voice may crack. These are:
- Puberty. As you transition from child to teen, your voice changes and deepens. During the time it may crack and be inconsistent. This is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about.
- Coughs and colds. If you have a respiratory infection, your vocals may be weakened.
- Vocal fatigue. As with a respiratory infection, if you have overworked your voice, it may be weakened and need rest. Cracking can be a sign of this.
- Range. When you sing out with your natural vocal range, without proper training, your voice may be unable to hit the notes and crack. This can also occur when moving between your head voice and chest voice (in classical music, the term passaggio (meaning ‘passage’) is used to describe this movement between the vocal registers that can cause singers issues.
- Nerves. Occasionally if you feel very anxious you might experience voice cracks. This is usually overcoming with experience and steady, controlled breathing.
In terms of physiology, the voice crack occurs when the vocal folds spasm and release, this makes the voice enter a higher register for a moment or two. It’s a sudden and jarring event.
Voice crack in singing
If your voice is cracking due to puberty, you will have to wait it out. You can still sing and have singing lessons during this time – in fact, this will benefit you a great deal. And the rest of the tips in this article will help improve and prepare your vocals for this next stage. But you’ll also have to accept that it will take up to a few months to settle. And then you’ll move into a smooth adult tone that’s ready to be trained.
Otherwise, voice cracks can be stopped through continuous vocal exercises, breathing exercises, rest, remedies and physical exercises. We’ll take a look at these in more detail next.
How to stop voice cracks when singing
Warming up your vocal folds is very important as it affects how well they perform. The voice warm-up should never be done at full blast, and if it’s hurting, then you are forcing it.
Here are some warm-ups and vocal exercises to help prevent voice crack.
- Lip roll: Start with your lips connected and release air through your lips while making them vibrate (and slightly tingle). These can be sung on scales or simply low to high notes and vice-versa. Lip rolls also engage your diaphragm to work, engaging your body with, and powering, the singing.
- Humming: Making the “mmm” sound on musical scales or arpeggios. Keep your lips closed with a gap between your teeth – and be sure to stay in your comfortable vocal range.
- Vowels: Sing vowels such as “aa-ee-ah-oh-oo” or “aa-ee-ei-oh-oo” either on the same note or move up and down a scale. The secret is to sing all the vowels on one breath and then inhale and sing all over again.
- Siren: This sound is imitating the vehicle siren by doing extended pitch glide on different sounds like “si-nnnnnng”, “rrrrrrr”, “brrr”, “aaaa” etc.
Once you’ve completed the simple version of these exercises, you can always make it more advanced by adding a different progression to the sounds, making them shorter or longer.
How to stop voice cracks
It could be you have voice cracks because you have over-exerted yourself, or are sick. If so you need to remove pressure from the vocal folds by avoiding speaking and singing.
This means you should consider taking a few hours or even full days or weeks of resting, to help your vocal folds recover properly before you put high demand on them.
Avoid screaming, yelling and talking loud as a general rule, as these can cause inflammation to your vocal folds. Also, avoid clearing your throat as the mechanism behind that has a harmful result on the vocal cords. If you are living in a dry climate, use a humidifier to help moisten the air you breathe in your room. This helps moisten the vocal folds too.
Cracked voice remedies
It is your diaphragm that helps you inhale, but it is your abdominal muscles that help you exhale and you must have control over the diaphragm when you do it. Working out will help strengthen these muscles. Physical exercises increase the blood flow to the muscles, which raises your body temperature, warming it up along with your vocal folds.
Singing involves a variety of muscles, your respiratory system and even the products you consume contribute to your sound. This is why stopping voice cracks means not only focusing on your vocal folds but your body as a whole. What we eat and drink before singing is important. It affects how our whole body, including the vocal folds perform. Don’t eat anything too heavy before singing and if you want to avoid cracks and poor vocal quality, stay away from anything dairy (it’s claggy) or anything too acidic. Always keep yourself hydrated to make sure that your vocal cords are moisturised for when they vibrate.
If you want to discover more about what to eat and what to avoid, you’ll find this other article useful.
How to prevent voice cracks when singing
Facial and tongue exercises will help you tremendously, bringing ease to the pronunciation of words, opening your mouth to different sounds and taking away the strain on the muscles around your cheeks. Rotate your tongue in your mouth to the left and right, open your mouth as wide as you can and then squeeze the lips as tight as possible etc.
Voice cracks when singing high notes?
The reason your voice cracks when you’re singing is because your vocal folds can’t vibrate at the pitch you desire when trying to sing a sound, no matter how much you force it. This is particularly the case on high notes, which is why you may have more instances of cracks on your upper range, than your lower range.
Voice cracking while singing low notes?
A lot of people confuse voice cracks for vocal fry. Voice cracks can be intentionally achieved by pushing the air on an uncomfortably high note. Vocal fry, on the other hand, is the controlled drop of your voice in your lowest vocal register, that pushes the vocal folds to vibrate giving the sound a creaky quality.
However, voice cracks are not always a bad thing. Some singers make use of this to add a drama to their vocals – it can be incredibly effective as this video demonstrates. Do be careful if you do this, be sure to still use a good singing technique, so you don’t do any damage.
You don’t run a marathon without any training and adaptations. It is the same with your voice. Continuous pressure to the vocal folds without proper adaptations and preparations will lead to vocal fatigue and therefore, voice cracks. The first place to start is always with good technique. If you can, get a singing teacher. If not, follow some online tutorials and you can develop a strong, resilient and crack-free singing voice.
- How do I stop my singing voice from being hoarse?
Taking the steps we’ve outlined in this article, in terms of vocal exercises, proper singing technique rest, nutrition and hydration will all help prevent your voice from becoming fatigued. If you have new and persistent hoarseness, it may be worth getting it checked by a doctor.
- How long do voice cracks last?
A vocal crack might just be a one-off, or it may be a frequent thing. The crack itself may last just a second as your voice transitions, or it might develop into voice loss – depending on the reason behind the crack.
Does your voice crack when you sing? Do you have any wonder remedies to stop or prevent it from happening? Let us know in the comments below.