There are so many times as a singer that you'll find the need to project your voice more than you thought you would have to, or the need to be louder than you did while you were rehearsing.
The most common reason for this is a bad or non-existent mic setup in a large room. The need to sing outside against the weather and noise without a mic can cause you to have to sing louder too.
Sometimes, it just makes sense for the song to sing loud at fortissimo volume instead of singing softly at pianissimo, even if the mic is on! But how do you go about this without damaging your voice or cracking?
When we sing loudly with the wrong technique, we can cause damage to our voice box, also known as our larynx.
Overworking your vocal cords and larynx can cause you to go beyond damages like hoarseness and a soar throat. Those who overwork their vocal cords can suffer from extreme conditions, including vocal nodules.
Another risk is when we overuse our voice by speaking, singing, or shouting for too long a period of time; the muscles in our larynx can get tired and irritated to the point of causing dryness, irritation, and possibly pain.
This is commonly referred to as experiencing vocal fatigue.
So the first and most obvious thing to do when considering singing very loudly is to make sure you don't do it for too long of a period.
UTS Medical Center professionals recommend that for every hour you spend singing or speaking, you will need to give your voice rest for 10 minutes to allow your vocal cords to recover.
Going on vocal rest is precisely what it sounds like: giving your vocal cords a rest. It benefits singers, rappers, preachers, voice actors, motivational speakers, and even non-professionals in post-op who suffer from vocal damage.
Warming up your voice, especially before doing something straining to it, is a great way to ease your body into speaking or singing and minimize any damage or irritation.
I use several go-to warmups nearly every day as a professional studio vocalist. Check out some of my favorite vocal exercises here.
There would be such a different sound coming out in my recordings if it weren't for the positive effects I get from doing these exercises before singing for an extended period of time.
Drinking plenty of water throughout the day is essential, and it is important to hydrate before a long performance at the right time.
If you want to hydrate properly, drink water at least two hours before your performance or practice session.
If you have a gig coming up, ensure you aren't drinking alcohol or caffeine. For my tea lovers out there, drinking tea is a great thing to do as a singer or speaker, but avoid the teas that have caffeine in them since they can dry out your throat.
The best thing to do is simply to drink water if you don't feel like remembering what and what not you want to drink to stay hydrated.
To sing loudly without restricting your volume, you want to make sure you are practicing good posture. A restricted posture can stop you from breathing properly, make you sound nasal, affect your pitch, and limit your singing range.
Stand or sit up straight and avoid any hunching in your back for good breath support.
There is also a common misconception that you need to take in deep breaths by raising your shoulders, but since the shoulders have nothing to do with your diaphragm, just relax them.
It may help for you to put your hands around your rib cage as you breathe in and out to make sure that you are taking in the best breaths possible and not slouching in the position you are in.
There is no need to try to stick your chest too far out in an attempt not to slouch either; you want to find the perfect balance for perfect singing posture!
If you're attempting to sing very loudly during a song, a simple thing to remember is to go for long vowels and a dropped jaw when it comes to your mouth placement.
Long placement will help relieve any tension you may have in your mouth and throat, which will minimize the damage done while resonating so loudly.
To try to start this type of placement as a beginner, simply mimic the feeling the back of your throat has when you yawn. You can also drop your jaw and place your fingers right in front of your ear, and you should feel your jaw fully separating from it.
Along with a long jaw placement, you will also want to raise your soft palate in order to relax the muscles in your throat and avoid constriction. Singers often benefit from a raised soft palate to help them to release a more resonant sound that can fill a room.
Your soft palate is the muscular section that is located at the back of the roof of your mouth.
Some people confuse the tonsils and the soft palate, but the tonsils are actually called palatine tonsils, which allude to their location on your soft palate on either side.
The human voice is capable of going lower than any note on the piano and higher than any human can actually perceive. In operatic music settings, the breakdown generally involves six different voice types.
This includes Soprano, Mezzo-Soprano, Contralto, Tenor, Baritone, and Bass.
Once you figure out what voice range you fall in, you will want to practice with the different vocal registers in your voice. These include chest voice, head voice, and mixed voice singing, which can all be found in all genres of singing.
Your chest voice, also known as your modal voice, is the voice you use when you speak, shout, and sing in your lower range. It is the easiest vocal register to sing loudly without strain, just like it's easy to shout while speaking in your chest voice.
It may help you sing louder by lowering your key so that most of your notes fall within your chest range and don't have to be sung in a head or a mixed voice.
Singing loudly in your head voice is an easy way to embarrass yourself with an accidental voice crack. Instead of pushing your head voice, try singing in something called your mixed voice. Your mixed voice is simply a mix between your chest and your head voice.
A vocal mix combines the power from your head and your chest into an even mix of the two to provide you with resonance and ease without causing strain.
Mixing the two registers is something that will likely need to be practiced over time by a singer, and they would definitely benefit from guidance from a professional teacher to work with their particular vocal range.
Singing from your diaphragm is a vital part of resonating loudly without running out of air and losing your volume levels.
There are generally two ways you can breathe before you sing or speak: you can breathe from your diaphragm, AKA your chest, or you can do a breath from your throat.
While breathing a shallow breath from your throat will work in most speaking cases and some short sung phrases, singers want to make a habit of breathing in with their diaphragm (full chest) in order to get a good amount of air for their sung phrases.
Cooldowns for your vocals help to reset your body and voice back to neutral. You don't want to be stuck in vocal performance mode once the performance time has passed.
Relaxing and stretching your voice box can help release unnecessary tension in your body and allow you to avoid stress on your speaking voice. It also helps you prevent vocal fatigue and rasp after an intense performance (or several).
Doing light vocalizations for a few minutes on the drive home significantly reduces that feeling of soreness. The keyword here is light!
Related Post: Why Does My Throat Hurt After Singing?
A vocal cooldown does not need to take long at all. You will need 15 minutes at most to get back to a good vocal state, but 5-10 minutes will do really well.
As a session singer, writer, and producer that has worked with over 200 clients to provide high-quality jingles, singles, and features, Yona spends her time creating and marketing new music and helpful resources for creators. Her recent collaborations include work with PBS Sound Field, Tribe of Noise, and the National Black Chamber of Commerce. Check out Yona’s latest releases on her Spotify, her Youtube and share if you like it!
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