Does your voice ever "crack" or "break" when you sing?
It's a common thing, and it can be quite frustrating!
What's more, it's very obvious to the audience. So while some other technical mistakes can go un-noticed, if your voice cracks people will hear it.
Fortunately, with a few tips and a bit of practice you can iron out all the cracks and breaks in your voice - so your voice becomes a smooth, seamless instrument.
If you've been following me for a bit, you know that I always want you to understand what's happening in your body.
To get an understanding of where the cracks and breaks come from, let's talk about how you create sound.
You create sounds from your vocal cords, located in your larynx (voice box).
Your vocal cords are stretched horizontally across the larynx or voice box. Air comes through your windpipe (your trachea) and vibrates over and around the cords.
That's what creates the sound.
If your cords are coming together clean, there's no breaking apart. Now think of your range—the lowest notes you can hit, and the highest notes you can hit.
As you move through your range, you're travelling from one part of your voice to another.
As you do that, you're going through what we call different vocal registers. You might have heard singing teachers talk about head voice, chest voice, middle voice.
These are the different vocal registers your voice will navigate through.
If you want to learn more about these different vocal registers, click here for another tutorial.
There are many changes that you make as you're moving through your range. These changes will affect whether or not your voice cracks.
The reason that your voice would be cracking is that somewhere, as you're moving through your range, you're moving the position of your larynx.
See, when you move your voice box out of place, your cords can't come together.
So to erase any cracks and breaks in your voice, the key is to be able to sing keeping your voice box in a stable position.
Let's do an exercise that will help with this. This one is a little tricky, but with a little practice you will get the hang of it.
(There is a reason we are using a more difficult exercise, which I'll explain in a moment)
There are certain sounds that are always going to give you a little more trouble, like “ah” and “oh.” Those kinds of sounds make you want to fall back in your throat.
Having your voice fall back into your throat is the most common bad habit that will move your voice box out of place.
So by using a difficult sound to practice with will challenge you to keep your voice box stable.
Master this and you'll never have problems with your voice breaking again.
Practice along with me starting at 2:58. Watch the video below to see the demonstration (the video will begin at the correct time for the demonstration)
And here's the audio file you can use to practice the exercise:
As you practice the exercise, remember to do a big smile to help you keep the sound up in your cheeks, and not fall back in your throat.
For me personally, when I get up to a certain point in my range, I tend to want to open my mouth wider and fall back in my throat, especially with an open sound like “ah.” If I do that, my voice will crack.
You'll also find that there are certain places in your voice that are a little tricky.
The key is to play around and work out what you have to do physically to navigate the problem area, while keeping your voice box stable.
Here's another exercise where you're going to need to be a bit diligent about practicing for a bit, but you're going to see that it makes a huge difference.
If you've been watching my videos, you've probably seen my do my nay-nay-nay exercise. I want you to understand it in a bit of a different way this time.
Remember, your voice is breaking apart or cracking because your vocal cords are not able to come together and make a clean connection.
Now, that could be for a lot of different reasons. It could be that you're pushing and you're falling back in your throat, or your larynx is out of place, or you've cut off your air. This exercise will start to correct any of those issues if you do it in the correct way.
The main thing that's happening when your voice cracks is that your swallowing muscles are coming down. They're moving out of place. It's changing your vocal posture, moving your larynx around.
Start by placing your thumb under your chin. We'll be making our smiling grimace, as you'll see starting at 1:20. Now we sing our “nay-nay-nay” arpeggios, with four “nay” sounds on the top note.
You'll see in the video how closed my mouth is. I have a naturally booming voice, and I tend to open and fall back in my throat. So I've had to make a conscious effort to keep it closed and forward. As you practice this exercise, you'll develop the ability to connect your cords as you move through your range.
Remember to let go before the higher notes. Think of coming down to the higher notes. You're not opening your mouth more to sing them. With your thumb on your throat, you'll be able to monitor your swallowing muscles to make sure they're not coming down.
Let's practice together starting at 2:50. As we come back down on the arpeggio, I'm closing and thinking I'm going up.
As we do the exercise and you go through your range with the arpeggios, you'll be training your body to get your cords to come together so there's no cracking.
There will be so many little adjustments that you'll start to make. And over time, making these adjustments will become natural.
So don't worry if, in the beginning, you're having to figure all this out and go through it over and over again. You're developing new habits that are going to get you to having a really great voice.