Everyone has probably experienced the embarrassment of trying to reach a high note, only to have the voice crack or break. I have even seen it happen to famous singers such as Celine Dion, and Pavarotti. What causes this embarrassing phenomenon, and how can it be prevented?
Almost everyone has built-in vocal register breaks at fairly predictable places in the voice. The most obvious one is the area where the voice transitions from lower register (chest voice) to upper register (head voice). This is the area known as the “first bridge”. Take heart if you feel frustrated about your voice cracking as you try to go from low to high- every singer to some degree, has to deal with this problem. The key is learning how to deal with it the correct way.
There are some physical reasons why we experience a break when going from low notes to high notes and these issues can be addressed with good vocal training. . It has nothing to do with talent or a lack thereof. Isn’t that good news!
Very simply stated: when you are singing or talking in your lower register (chest voice), your vocal cords are in a shorter and more massive position. As you ascend in pitch, the vocal cords lengthen and thin out. The higher you go, the less of the cord is vibrating. So, to achieve a smooth transition from the “short and fat” position to the “long and thinner” position of the cords often requires training to coordinate. Certain vocal exercises will train the muscles involved in this process to function smoothly. You will need to strengthen and develop the higher notes, which have not been used as much throughout your life. Eventually, with training, the high notes will match the strength and intensity of your lower notes.
The other factor is what has traditionally been referred to as resonance or resonance transfer, largely affected by vowel. Once the sound waves leave the vibrating vocal cords, they are amplified and reinforced in the throat and mouth areas. These areas can be affected by the singer by adjustments of the soft tissue such as the soft palate and tongue, and are also affected by the position of the larynx. Learning to “tune” vowels correctly will help you transition through the break areas or bridges more easily.
Developing coordinated and balanced registration with a strong mix is the only way to sing with a smooth, connected and powerful voice, and to eliminate cracks and vocal breaks.
I wish you all the best as you reach for your dreams! Tricia Grey, MM
At Sing Like a Star Studios you can learn the vocal technique of the stars. If you don’t live near Atlanta, you can take voice lessons with Skype. Please visit our website at www.singlikeastar.com and click on the GET STARTED tab to register for a professional vocal evaluation and consultation.