How To Repair That Annoying Vocal Break

Wednesday, August 31, 2016 by Jake Hahn | Singing

I wanted to write an answer to a question that I've been getting for years and years.

"how do I keep my voice from cracking?" 

Even though I don't like to see it this way, and I usually coach people another direction...it really can be embarrassing when it happens

(Even Ryan Gosling feels it...)


Not only can it leave you a bit embarrassed, it's also really frustrating! Especially if you been working on improving your voice for a good amount of time.

The Issue...

There are 2 main things that can cause your voice to "break". The "2 C's"

1. Conditioning

What do I mean by conditioning? Well the vocal cords are controlled by muscles that move them back and forth. They stretch them by contracting and shorten them by relaxing. Those muscles are responsible for manipulating your cords - which in turn changes your pitch (the notes). If those muscle are weak in a certain area they simply can't keep your vocal cords together and making sounds properly throughout your range. In short...they come apart. So it's a lack of conditioning. The muscles that control your vocal cords act just like any other muscle in your body. Weak is weak & strong is strong.

2. Constriction

Constriction of certain muscle (mainly your stronger extrinsic neck muscles) cause a narrowing of the vocal tract around the voice box. When this happens, the vocal cords aren't allowed to move as freely, which can cause the cords to respond erratically at times. In turn, you end up with a vocal "break" due to the instability and lack of space/freedom for them to adjust accordingly as you move through your range. 


The Solution...

Start to condition your muscles! Doing daily vocal exercises are your best friend here! Performing lip rolls and/or tongue trills with "sirens" is a great way to condition your instrument. Again...just like any other muscle in your body...you have to use it to strengthen it. This isn't going to just happen for you overnight. The body has rules that we have to play by in order to get it to change for the better. 

Give it 15 minutes every single day! You WILL notice huge improvements in a relatively short time. 

I consistently help clients correct vocal issues in a matter of minutes during sessions. It isn't "magic", and I'm not some special guru. I just know exactly what to listen and look for, and I have enough insight to help take corrective action.

You can totally do this. 

As far as constriction goes - begin adding MOVEMENT to your practice.

Quite literally!

As you sing -or- while you're performing your vocal exercises - move your head from side to side. Don't stop singing! As you get more comfortable with this head movement, start to incorporate your torso into the movement as well. 

Seem strange??

Wanna know why??

Because constriction happens when you "lock up". Your body then sends that information back to your brain saying "this is what we do while we sing...we tighten up", and the brain says "gotcha ;)". From then on you'll repeat that cycle through muscle memory.

Now...if you add some movement while you sing - the body sends that information back to the brain in the same way but with a different outcome. The body says "this is what we do while we sing...we move with freedom", and the brain says "gotcha ;)"

When you add movement your body begins to understand that it can sing while relaxing at the same time!

THIS. IS. HUGE.

Here is a vocal course that I've seen quite a few people use with great success. You can click here to check it out. Melanie put together a solid program and that's only reason I'm recommending it to ya. I know it works on the issues I stated above. So it's on the same page as my personal coaching.

There are so many choices out there, and to be honest I've seen them all (I've probably studied them all too. haha.) The truth is...there are a lot of them that work really well. I don't think you can go wrong with some of them. A good course will KEEP YOU ON TRACK making consistent progress toward your personal goal. 


REST ASSURED...Your vocal break is a physical issue that can be corrected. I've experienced it personally, as well as working directly with others and seeing them overcome it first-hand.

So...

Get yourself some exercises

Do them every day

Enjoy the journey

Enjoy the growth

Enjoy singing!


I hope this helps!

- Jake


The Answer To: How To Sing And Play Guitar At The Same Time

Friday, August 26, 2016 by Jake Hahn | artist development

The Scenario...

 You grab your guitar (or whatever instrument you choose) and sit down on your couch. You choose a song and decide to give it a shot. 

Have a little fun, right?

As you start to play, everything is going just fine, but then, right as you start to add in (or even THINK of) the vocal part...it all falls apart!

(okay...this is a bit extreme, but it's not too far from the truth of how it feels, am I right?)


So you gather your composure and give it another try! (because you're on a mission - and you just like playing music of course.)

You start strumming away. Everything is fine again - then boom!!...adding the vocal line brings it all to a disjointed, rhythmically messy hault.

Now, when all you really want is to express yourself and simply enjoy playing a song - this can be a real drag.

I can appreciate that, because I've been there. Hell...I STILL struggle with it at times!

So what's the deal?! 

Why is playing and singing so hard to do??

The Issue...

Multitasking!

Multitasking has been proven to be a myth, and what you're doing while playing and singing sure seems to be a lot like "multi-tasking", doesn't it?

Hmmmm???

So if multi-tasking is a myth, then how do you do multiple things at once??

Enter...the Reticular Activating System -or- R.A.S.

The R.A.S allows you to rapidly "flutter" from one thing to another. The issue is that you can only "flutter" between so many things at once. 

Here's a quick example: right now - think about your pinky toe on your left foot. 

I'm willing to bet - unless you're currently clipping that nail or getting a pedicure - that toe was one of the last things on your mind.

Right??

It's unimportant at the moment so your R.A.S puts your focus on what IS important to you in the moment.

So when you're playing guitar your R.A.S is predominantly focused on the things that allow you to play that guitar.

Strumming. Chords. Rhythm. Notes. Tempo. Feel. Etc...

Add to that remembering the lyrics, melody, vocal tone, vocal technique, "sounding good", etc...and at this point your brain is totally confused.

 It doesn't know what aspect to focus on, and/or the level of importance for each of those aspects.

Here's a mind-map I made showing you this process/issue:

(this mind-map is a part of a course I've made to really dig into all of the details and answer your questions to this whole "sing & play" thing once and for all)

Sooooo....what can you do?

The Solution...

Divide and conquer!!

You'll need to drill the instrumental portion of the song down deep passed conscious thought and into your sub-conscious behavior. 

This will free up space for the R.A.S to focus on other aspects of the song!

The brain is just awesome.


For example: Drill in a G C D chord change. It's crucial to play it the way you'd like it to sound between 12 to 16 times.

That amount of repetition is the least of what is required to make this happen. 

Remember! You have to play it THE WAY YOU WANT IT TO SOUND.

You can't half heartedly play through a dozen times with a bunch of mistakes and expect the result to be anything other than messy.

This doesn't mean "perfection" (perfection is an illusion)

Simply play it as well as you can!

After 12 to 16 repetitions - pause and recite a portion of the lyric at least 6 times.

After you've done this - it's time to put them together.

Don't be too put off if it doesn't happen on this first attempt. Just take a quick break and repeat this cycle.

I promise ya it'll take hold ;)

- jake 

Please feel free to send me an email or contact me via Facebook. Be sure to sign up for my mailing list if you're interested in my full "Sing & Play" course and would like to receive updates.