CeCe Sammy

Understanding Voice Cracks: Causes and Solutions

Understanding voice cracks is pivotal to individuals who rely on their voice for communication or performance, which basically includes everyone. Voice cracks can be frustrating and even embarrassing, but it’s important to understand why they happen and how you can prevent them from occurring.

Voice cracks are not just a rite of passage for adolescents; they’re a signal from our body that warrants attention and care. As a vocal and performance coach with a wealth of knowledge and experience in vocal health, I have encountered numerous individuals who struggle with voice cracks.

In this article, I will delve into the causes and solutions for voice cracks, including the pivotal role of vocal registers, such as the chest voice, head voice, and mixed voice, in managing and preventing voice cracks.

Understanding Voice Cracks: The Anatomy of the Voice

The human voice is a marvel of biological engineering – an intricate system involving the lungs, vocal cords, and the voice box. When everything works smoothly, air from your lungs passes through the vocal cords, making them vibrate and produce sound. However, voice cracks occur when the vocal muscles suddenly stretch, shorten, or tens up, causing a sudden change in the vibration pattern. This results in an abrupt change in your voice’s volume, pitch, or tone.

Understanding the different vocal registers, such as the chest voice, head voice, and mixed voice, is essential in comprehending why voice cracks occur and how they can be managed or minimised.

1. Chest Voice

As the day passes, most people will naturally speak where they feel most comfortable, generally the chest voice. When people sing, they will also feel most relaxed when they are singing the notes in their chest voice as it is in a relaxed state and the vocal cords are not thinned out, which happens when we move to high notes.

Im not saying that every note in the chest voice is simple, and you dont have to work because you still have to pay attention to the timing, the lyrics, the meaning and the emotion of the song. But for the most part, it is a comfortable, easy part of the voice where your speech naturally sits.

2. Head Voice

The head voice is very different. It is the higher part of the register.  You have to learn and develop how to control those high notes when singing. It can be trickier to know how to control your voice on those high notes as they are prolonged notes compared to when we are speaking.

When we speak, we use our head voice – perhaps not as frequently, but say on a fun night out with our friends or when surprised, we naturally start to speak using a higher range… without realising it. You take that higher part of the register and elongate the notes when singing.

3. Mix Voice

The mix voice is very interesting as this is a combination of the chest and head voices. In my debut book, If You Can Speak, You Can Sing”, I give detailed examples of the power of a mixed voice, comparing it to maths and percentages …

Causes of Voice Cracks

Understanding voice cracks requires knowledge of their causes, which can be numerous and varied:

1. Hormonal changes and puberty:

This is perhaps the most well-known cause of voice cracks. As adolescents undergo puberty, hormonal changes cause the larynx (or voice box) to grow, leading to voice instability and frequent cracking.

2. Vocal strain and overuse:

Just like any muscle in your body, the vocal cords can become strained and fatigued if overworked. Singers, public speakers, and anyone who uses their voice extensively are particularly susceptible to this.

3. Lack of vocal warm-up:

Warming up the voice is essential before any rigorous vocal activity, much like stretching before a workout. Skipping this step can lead to voice cracks.

4. Dehydration and poor health habits:

The vocal cords need to be well-lubricated to function optimally. Dehydration, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and other detrimental health habits can dry out and damage the vocal cords, leading to voice cracks.

5. Stress and emotional factors:

Anxiety or nervousness can significantly impact your voice, as anyone who’s ever had their voice shake during a nerve-wracking presentation can attest. Stress can cause muscle tension in the throat, leading to voice cracks.

6. Illnesses affecting the voice (cold, flu, laryngitis):

Infections and illnesses that cause inflammation or mucus build-up in the throat can interfere with the smooth functioning of the vocal cords, resulting in voice cracks.

Tips to Refine Your Vocal Technique and Avoid Voice Cracks

Now that we have a better understanding of voice cracks and their common causes, let’s explore some effective strategies and preventative measures you can take to reduce their occurrence.

1. Stress Management:

As mentioned earlier, stress and strong emotions can significantly impact our voice. Incorporating relaxation techniques into your daily routine, such as mindfulness, meditation, or yoga, can help manage stress levels and, in turn, improve vocal control.

2. Vocal Warm-ups:

Just as athletes warm up before a game, speakers and singers should warm up their voices before heavy use. This could involve simple exercises like humming, lip trills, or scales, which help prepare the vocal cords for more strenuous activity and reduce the risk of voice cracks. Including exercises that specifically target smooth transitions between the chest, head, and mixed voices can significantly enhance vocal flexibility and stability.

3. Breathing Exercises:

Proper breath support is crucial for smooth, stable voicing. Breathing exercises can strengthen your diaphragm and teach you how to control your breath effectively when speaking or singing, helping prevent voice cracks.

4. Speak and Sing Within Your Vocal Range:

Pushing your voice beyond its natural range can lead to strain and voice cracks. Knowing your vocal limits and staying within them is important to maintain vocal health. Understanding and working within your chest voice and head voice, and particularly developing a strong mixed voice, can help manage and prevent voice cracks.

5. Avoid Harmful Substances:

Certain substances, such as caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine, can dehydrate and irritate the vocal cords, making them more prone to cracking. Hydrating well and maintaining a healthy diet can help keep your vocal cords in good shape.

6. Vocal Training With a Specialist:

If voice cracks persist, it may be beneficial to seek help from a specialist. They can provide personalised guidance and training to improve your vocal technique and address any underlying issues causing voice cracks, with a focus on mastering the mixed voice and ensuring smooth transitions between registers.

Understanding voice cracks and implementing these solutions and preventative measures can be a game-changer for anyone who relies on their voice for communication or performance. Remember, your voice is vital to your identity and deserves care and attention.


Understanding voice cracks is just the beginning; taking proactive steps to maintain vocal health and prevent vocal issues is equally important. If you want to enhance your vocal abilities and confidence, don’t hesitate to seek professional guidance. My coaching sessions are tailored to your unique needs and goals, focusing on techniques to master your voice as well as develop a strong mixed voice. Contact me for more information.