As an up-and-coming singer, one of the most impressive techniques you can possess is a strong, clear head voice.
However, a common stumbling block in the pursuit of a strong head voice is a breathy or faint sound.
So, what causes your head voice to sound breathy?
A breathy head voice is usually caused by either a gap in your vocal chords, a lack of natural resonance or poor vocal care. Most singers can improve a breathy head voice through breathing exercises, resonance training and implementing a thorough vocal care routine.
In this article, we’re breaking down each of the three reasons listed above, as well as providing detailed advice on how to eliminate that breathy sound once and for all:
1. There’s A Gap In Your Vocal Folds
Breathy singing usually means that your vocal folds (also known as vocal cords) are not aligned, which causes a small gap between them.
Luckily, This is an easily-rectifiable problem that a lot of singers experience!
A gap in the vocal folds causes excess air to seep into your tone. This air is usually turbulent, which can emphasize the breathy quality in your voice.
How To Fix It:
Breathing exercises for paused breathing can help eliminate the breathy sounds you hear in your head voice. Here’s a step-by-step process you can work on to manage your breath and eliminate that pesky gap:
- Step 1 – Sit with your back straight and your shoulders and neck relaxed.
- Step 2 – Begin breathing softly and gently through your nose.
- Step 3 – Before exhaling, stick your tongue out past your teeth. This will assist with opening your airway at the vocal folds.
- Step 4 – Keep your tongue out while you exhale in paused, slow, or even spaced breaths.
- Step 5 – Repeat this process three times a day in intervals of ten and continue for as long as needed (or until you see a difference in your voice).
2. Poor Resonance
When your head voice sounds breathy, you essentially lack richness in your voice. This is why you may notice that your vibrato and overall tone sounds much weaker than that of other singers.
If you aren’t blessed with a naturally rich voice, it can be slightly more challenging to obtain that resonant tone you’re looking for.
However, you can certainly work on achieving a sense of balance within your voice and making it the strongest it can be.
That balance will come from your breath, your vocal folds and your vocal resonators. Once you’ve worked on your breath control, you can begin to find better resonance.
How To Fix It:
Here are two quickfire tips for obtaining better vocal resonance:
- Tip 1: Work on making your tone as neutral as possible. This will require focus on your laryngeal position as well as proper breath control.
- Tip 2: If you’re singing through a microphone, resist the temptation to load up with effects. It’s important to get things right at the source before you start artificially modulating your voice.
3. Poor Vocal Health
Believe it or not, neglecting your vocal health can lead lesions such as nodes, cysts, polyps, etc. This can significantly impact the tone of your voice (often to the point of not being able to perform).
Here are a few tips for combating a breathy head voice that’s the result of poor vocal health:
How To Fix It:
Tip 1: Allow Your Vocal Cords to Rest
This might sound easy, but it’s probably one of the hardest things to do for an aspiring singer. In order for your vocal folds to get the rest they require to heal, you’ll need to avoid singing, whispering, and yelling until you feel better.
Tip 2: Adopt a strong vocal care routine
Your voice is a delicate instrument, meaning you’ll need to take proper care of it! Here’s a quick daily checklist to take care of your voice:
- Gargle with a saline solution once per day (which can also form part of a wider nasal irrigation routine)
- Massage the outside of your throat with a natural massage oil
- Stretch the muscles in your neck, shoulders and the rest of your upper body before singing
- Implement a strong vocal warm-up routine before diving into your usual singing practice
- Drink at least eight large glasses of water each day
- Try not to shout or strain your voice as much as possible
Tip 3: Get your voice checked at least once a year
Knowledge is power, and so is knowing if you have any issues with your vocal folds. It’s always a good idea to have your doctor inspect your vocal cords at least once a year to ensure your voice is in good condition.
And there you have it! A no-nonsense guide on the three primary causes of a breathy head voice, coupled with actionable advice for solving each one. If you enjoyed this post, why not check out our article on if you can vape as a singer next?