Help, my voice is stuck!

Hey, we’ve all been there. Don’t sweat it. Try these tips to free your voice.

  • Warm up.  Don’t underestimate the power of a good warm-up. 2-3minutes can save you oodles of time and frustration down the line (i.e. liptrills, humming, sirens, silly sounds)
  • Relax. Tension causes some funky things to happen. Likely your voice is muscled up, as in extra muscles are “helping” you sing. Try some lip trills or gentle humming to disengage these muscles, and then come back at it.
  • Pull back volume. Pushing the voice jams it up. Give 80% instead of 120%.
  • Pull back air. Too much air is worse than not enough. Over-blowing causes the cords to disconnect, or “blow apart”. The result is an unwanted breathy or falsetto tone.
  • Add more air if your voice is cutting out, or not making it into your mask/face (aka pharyngeal), which is your voice’s speaker system.
  • Aim your voice at your nose (aka mask/pharyngeal). Much of singing happens in our face, not our mouth. Try it!
  • “Talk” your song. Sometimes our idea of what “singing” is the real reason for the vocal jam-up. Connect to your voice’s instinctual abilities by talking it out, or making silly sound effects/voices. See what happens.
  • Scrap Up-Down thinking. If it’s high notes causing the jam, bend over; low notes think up. Check out this blog for more on high notes: link here
  • Find your edge. Use vocal fry (i.e. the squeaky door sound, or, that creepy sound from “The Grudge” horror flick)  to find the vocal cords’ edge, the lightest, gentlest, cleanest form of connection. This will take your tone from breathy to rich when used just right.
  • Check your tone. Breathy = likely, cords aren’t properly connected (not to mention you’re working harder for the sound). Squeezed= too much compression (fodder for another article). Shouty= dragging chest voice too high. Hooty= more head resonance than chest or pharyngeal.
  • Don’t try so hard. In other words, resist the urge to “gear up and blast!” or “SING!!!” Instead, sing. Trust that the notes will be there. Give 75%. When your vocal mechanism works right, it feels almost effortless.
  • Check fear at the door. That inner critic … ay yi yi! (S)he will often try and shut down your sound, creating all kinds of not-so funky sounds. So … what are you thinking about?
  • Accept your own voice for what it is. Okay, let’s get real for a moment. Do you cringe at the sound of your own voice? Are you trying to mimic your favorite singer to the detriment of your own voice? You’re the only you that will ever exist—own it! Embrace the positives in your own sound.

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