I Need Some Vocal Tricks

Dear Leontine,

I’m currently struggling vocally and it’s driving me nuts! I sing with lots of belting, at least three nights a week, not including rehearsals. My voice gets to the point where I can’t reach my range; it sounds raspy and sometimes goes altogether. I don’t know what to do! What tricks can you recommend?


Dear Christy,

That does not sound good at all; there are certainly “tricks” but I feel that at this stage, you need to get yourself to a laryngologist a.s.a.p.

Once a camera has been put down your larynx there will be no more guessing and it’s a very quick and painless way of having a good look at your vocal folds.

If the folds are fine, then you can relax and proceed with maintaining good vocal health and practice; if, however, they are swollen, you may have acid reflux and need some medication. If there’s anything worse, this exam will lead to the correct therapy.

Do not delay; ask your Doctor for a referral—there are many good laryngologists and you should find one in your area.

If you are spending most of the time belting, you must balance the muscular activity of your voice and vocalize using your “thin” folds or “head-voice” for at least ten to twenty minutes every day.

This will stretch your folds out again, which is vital, given that you have been belting constantly (which means that your vocal folds have been vibrating on a very thick edge).

Imagine heavy weight lifting without stretching: the muscles involved become painful as they have not been stretched out again—it is similar with the voice.

Warm up your voice by doing lots of sirens and lip trills; gliding exercises are very good for the voice but make sure there is no tongue and jaw tension.

Steaming will hydrate your folds; use pure boiled water in a bowl (towel over the head) for twenty minutes every day, breathing in through the mouth.

You ought to see a singing teacher as it can be established fairly quickly as to whether there is a problem with your technique and/or your actual vocal folds.

Huskiness and loss of range are fairly good indicators that the folds are swollen, in need of rest…and in need of examination.

So, Christy: no tricks for you at this stage of the singing game.

Best wishes,


  • Yeah, that's what I was afraid of :( I've always known that I need to be doing vocal exercises as well, but it seems like I'm singing so much that all those exercises are just extra hard for me and I feel like I'm wasting voice time…which I know is totally wrong. And I do need to find a voice coach really bad…anything in particular I should look for in one?
    Thanks for all your advice…I'm gonna see my doc…
    I appreciate it,


  • Cabartina

    I understand Christy's dilemma. How much time is there in a day to practice technique and also learn new material and rehearse. I've been told by a voice teacher never practice more then an hour a day. But I could rehearse for four hours easily, without technique practice. How do you know you are finding a voice teacher who knows what they are talking about? Among the voice teachers I know, there is little agreement.

  • garymckinney

    I didn't see the one essential that may even be better than seeing a doctor: rest. Whenever I've encountered problems vocally speaking, a little R & R is better than anything.

  • thevoiceproject

    The more you sing and the more tired you become, the more essential technique becomes. If I am tired, I find it takes me a significant amount of time to come up to full speed vocally – however, I can chug along at 'cruising altitutde' pretty quickly.

    Rehearsing technique is important, but that doesn't have to mean doing a completely separate vocal regime. There are ways to practice/train your technique as you are singing songs….they don't have to be separate events.

    I share your frustration at the lack of rehearsal time….to really stay on top of your game you need to be in your music daily, or at least every other day. Before my last large gig, I was honestly rehearsing some part of the performance 4-6 hours a day! If you have a 2 1/2 hour set list…it simply takes that much time to practice, listen back to rehearsals and make adjustments. The good news is that once you have mastered a song, you no longer have to spend that much time on it and you can move on to new things.

    Good luck,
    Mary Beth F.

  • Practice regularly (daily if possible). Find a coach. Read books, study other vocalists. Listen to their CDs, sing along. Stretch, warm up and use strength training exercises. Your voice is a set of muscles like any other set that any other musician uses, don't over do it.

  • jemmastock

    I sing every night and I have no problem but I have notice that when I sing I'm singing very very flat and I have done this trick and it's ok now cuz I want to a laryngologist a.s.a.p

  • Leontine is absolutely correct on this one. As for me, I'm not too fond of 'belting'. You can create a powerful, full tone without all the stress to the vocal bands. Find a laryngoloist and reputable vocal coach, and give that overtaxed voice the care it deserves. If it hurts, don't do it. Remember: TENSION IS THE ENEMY!

  • Sounds to me like you are singing with way too much pressure, and are 'pushing' your 'chest voice' up higher than is healthy. This will make you sing flat every time. Pick a note up about a 4th or 5th higher than the high one you are singing flat on, and start singing a 'Hunnnng' sound. Slide this 'NG' down to the bottom of your range. It will sound weak and breathy, and you will hear some cracks, so you won't like it. Do it anyway. Do this for 5 minutes as a preliminary warm up every day. At the end of a few weeks, you will be amazed at how easy those high notes start to feel.

  • Vdanann

    My voice teacher says I have to match my singing time with exercise time. In other words, if I want to sing for 30 minutes, I have to exercise for 30 minutes. Can that be right?

  • Edwin S.

    Hi Leontine, holiday greetings to you.  I need to get an advise from you on how to increase my vocal range and what type of vocal exercises i need to do to achieve it? Thanks and more power!