Most voice breaks experienced by singers are totally preventable. In fact, they usually happen as a result of user error.
Here are the Top 10 Mistakes Causing Voice Breaks:
1. Improper resonance placement.
Your resonance placement should shift when ascending or descending through your vocal transitions. Learning this concept is often the big game changer in a first time lesson. Read more about this at point number two of this article.
2. Insufficient medial compression.
Medial compression is the pressure that holds your vocal cords together when using your voice. When singing with power, air pressure and medial compression should both increase. If medial compression doesn’t increase, then the added air pressure will cause the cords to break apart and usually create a loud voice break.
3. Singing too lightly.
Singing too lightly results in bad breath support and a weakened voice. Those factors individually can cause voice breaks and together will cause very persistent voice breaks.
4. Unsteady exhaling.
Your vocal cords need a steady supply of air in order to keep a stable sound. If your air is inconsistent, then your voice will break as your breath support changes.
5. Singing too aggressively.
Singing too aggressively makes singers over-exert and strain. Vocal over-exertion is singing with more pressure than the cords can handle, which will cause them to suddenly let go and break. Strain will fatigue the voice quickly, causing the muscles to give out.
6. Poor monitoring.
Poor monitoring means you can’t hear yourself well in venues where in-ear or wedge monitors are being used. If you can’t hear yourself clearly, then you will either sing too lightly or too aggressively, both of which can cause voice breaks.
7. Performing with an under-developed vocal range.
A good rule of thumb is to avoid performing with a part of your voice that still gives you surprises. The added nerves or butterflies of live performance will make your under-developed range even more unpredictable.
8. Neglecting practice of a difficult song.
Too many singers neglect practice to their own detriment. Difficult songs present an increased risk of straining, improper resonance placement, unsteady exhaling, etc. Every song should be drilled until you’ve practiced all the mistakes away.
9. Pushing a tired voice.
The voice is unpredictable when tired. Your muscles are now swollen and rigid, which makes them highly susceptible to breaking.
10. Poor voice ergonomics.
Voice ergonomics deal with creating a working environment where your voice could thrive. Having regular meetings in rooms with loud background noise is an example of poor voice ergonomics.
Similarly, singing in smoky rooms subjects you to an environment not ergonomically suited for your voice. The stress and strain that come from these environments increase the chance of the voice breaking.
The Bottom Line on Voice Breaks
You can prevent voice breaks from happening. However, some of the factors that lead to voice breaks are technical and may require instruction from an expert in order to control.
Benny Meza is a Master Associate at Brett Manning Studios in Nashville, TN. He’s taught over 7,000 vocal lessons and has worked with clients from Warner Music, RCA, Universal Music Group, and many others.
Book a Skype or In-Person lesson with Benny today!