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5 proven ways to stop voice cracks when speaking and singing

Apr 18, 2024
stop voice cracks

There’s an old story about two opera singers where one of them is practicing an aria. As one hits a high note, his voice briefly cracks. The other singer quips, “really?” The first, unfazed, replies, “Hey, if I did it perfectly every time, what would people praise me for?” 

Now, for most non-singing adults over the age of 17, voice cracks aren’t usually much of a concern, but for voice actors, it can mean redoing the entire take. So what causes voice cracks? The answer is a combination of factors from dry vocal folds to weak or disconnected breathing muscles. The good news is that you can avoid those awkward (and sometimes painful) moments with the right awareness and preparation. 

Remember to hydrate

One of the biggest causes of voice cracks is fatigue and irritation from dehydration. You may have heard the term “vocal chords” but they’re more accurately described as two bands of thin muscle tissue aka folds. When you want to speak or sing, these folds gently touch one another causing vibrations that you hear as your voice.

Vocal folds rely on a thin layer of mucus to properly vibrate. Dehydration stiffens the mucus, which causes your vocal folds to vibrate unevenly, which can result in cracking, raspiness, and hoarseness in the voice.

Voice actors and singers avoid dehydration by drinking plenty of water. Men tend to require more water than women, but this is mainly due to body size, and everyone’s need vary. 

Drinking 12-16 cups (2-4 liters) of water per day will:

  • Protect your vocal timbre
  • Prevent vocal fatigue
  • Improve pitch stability

Buy a humidifier

Dry air accelerates dehydration and we spend a large portion of our day at home. This is especially problematic in dry climates, but it’s also true anywhere during hot summer weather, when the sun evaporates humidity, and in winter, when indoor heating systems dry the air.

Since we spend so much of our day at home, we have some amount of control over our environment. One of the best household methods to avoid unnecessary loss of body water is the humidifier. 

Of all the types of humidifiers, the most common are ultrasonic: these create vibrations at frequencies higher than the human ear can hear to emit a fine mist into the air, quietly humidifying the room. There are also evaporative humidifiers which use fans to blow water through a filter to emit water vapor into the air. Most importantly, many come with a built-in hygrometer that pauses the humidifier when it detects enough humidity in the air—preventing avoidable mold from growing in your living space. 

Not only will your speaking voice thank you, but maintaining 40-50% humidity at home will lower your risk of cold and flu infections. 


  • Healthier voice
  • Better sleep
  • Better skin
  • Lower risk of cold & flu infection

Do some breathing exercises 

Lack of breath control is another culprit. Of course, nobody’s breathing muscles are ever physically “disconnected,” but training yourself to breathe efficiently will make you feel truly connected to your breath and is one of the best ways to avoid voice cracks. 

Actors and singers practice deep breathing, which is very similar to how breathing is taught in meditation, with one major difference: the goal is to keep the chest cavity expanded as long as possible while breathing and exhaling deep through the pelvis. Why? Because the breath should come from the pelvis, not the chest. 

Whether you’re new to deep breathing or have been at it for a while, a good point of reference is to begin each exercise from the belly button as if you’re pulling the button inward toward your spinal column. This will help redirect your airflow to the abdomen and pelvis. 

Some other breathing exercises include: 

  • Diaphragmatic breathing

Called by many names, diaphragmatic breathing strengthens the diaphragm and improves your stamina by training you to breath deep into the abdomen rather than high in the chest like many people do. It’s one of the first skills actors and singers learn when studying the performing arts.

  • Breathing bubbles through a straw

This one is super easy and excellent for when your voice feels tired. It’s done exactly how it sounds: first, you fill one-third of a glass or thermos with water; next, you place a straw in the glass; and third, you blow bubbles through the straw while humming. The goal is to slowly exhale while maintaining an even stream of bubbles, which will help gently connect your voice to your breathing and prevent voice cracks.

  • Lip trills

Voiced and unvoiced lip trills are a great way to practice breathing. Unvoiced lip trills help train you to have an even, gentle, controlled breath without unexpected changes in air pressure or speed. With practice, you’ll be able to hum your lip trills with voice glides, going through most of your vocal range with ease and consistency.

Try a few tongue twisters


voice actor doing warm-ups


If you can’t remember the last time you recited “she sells seashells by the sea shore,” you’re not alone, but tongue-twisters are a great way to train articulation for voice actors, and they’re fun! 

  • How much wood could a woodchuck chuck? 
  • Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
  • One smart fellow, he felt smart.

Every language has its own peculiar ways of combining consonants and vowels, and in which order, and to train our minds, lips, and tongues to perform these letter combinations, people created tongue twisters. Never underestimate the power of muscle memory! Even in their native tongue, voice actors are performing words written by people who think and speak differently, meaning you will encounter word combinations that you don’t ordinarily use in everyday speech and those old word games from school may come in handy after all. 

They’re also humbling: try saying “I slit the sheet, the sheet I slit, and on the slitted sheet I sit” ten times fast!

Warm up your voice

Over the course of your voice-acting career, you’ll hear lots of theories about what to do to make your voice sound its best, but this foolproof habit is your best friend: warm up before every gig. 

Warming up is something that you can do anywhere: at home, in the elevator, and even in the bathroom. 

There are three musts for any good warm up:

  • Get your body moving

Warming up the muscles and connective tissue preps your voice for vocalizing and is something you can do anywhere: at home, in the stairwell, or even in the bathroom. There’s no single way to do it, so find what works for you, from yoga to calisthenics and dynamic stretching.

  • Breathing exercises

Professional opera singers do breathing exercises on a daily basis, so why shouldn’t you? Ideally, you can do these before vocal exercises, but you can throw in a breathing exercise any time you feel like it. Examples include diaphragmatic breathing, pursed lip breathing, and breathing through a straw. 

  • Voice exercises

Vocalizing includes, but is not limited to, lip trills, pitch glides, consonant drills, and controlled yawning, and will get your vocal folds ready to work. 

When you’re strapped for time, you can still get in a warm up. It doesn’t have to be complicated, just something as simple as jogging in place while shaking your limbs out to release excess tension, followed by jumping jacks and ankle rotations. Remember, you’ll often be sitting or standing for hours, so you want to get the blood flowing in your legs too!

Relax your neck muscles by looking right, left, up, and down, followed by gentle neck rolls. Now, reach up as high as you can into the sky and then let yourself hang down and touch your toes.

With your physical warm up complete, it’s time to vocalize. Warming up your voice can be as simple as vocal glides combined with lip trills, softly humming from your low register into your high register, and sighing on pitch. It doesn’t have to be super complicated: just enough to get the blood flowing and connect your voice and diaphragm. A good warmup will help stave off any unwelcome voice cracks!

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