Do Stop Believin'

Some myth-busting to get you started.

Myth: I will always have a vocal break.

You can learn to blend head voice and chest voice so you don’t have a vocal break. A vocal break is not a line between head voice & chest voice that just exists forever. It takes more work for some voices than others but it IS possible.

Myth: I will increase my range by pushing harder for high notes.

You may gain one or two more notes by pushing harder, but then you’ll hit a wall and you’ll also be vocally exhausted. Something to help you increase your range is to relax! If you feel like you’re pushing or straining, you’re definitely not helping yourself – in fact, you may be hurting!

Myth: I can go to any vocal coach and get what I need vocally.

Vocal coaches vary SO much. They have different areas of expertise, different focuses, different personalities… all of which can help or hurt you in different ways. If looking for a voice teacher/vocal coach, keep the following in mind and don’t be afraid to shop around until you find the perfect fit!

  • The coach should be able to give you tangible feedback – more than repeating scales & songs while they play piano.
  • They should make singing easier. If they’re encouraging pushing, straining, or anything that hurts at the vocal cord level… LEAVE. I cannot stress this enough!
  • You should be able to sing the type of music you want to.
Myth: If you can sing classical, you can sing anything.

I think this is one of those adages that people keep repeating over the years because that’s… just what’s been repeated for years so it must be true? There are some people who can learn classical technique and transition into contemporary genres well – but it’s rare. Usually, classical training for contemporary genres leads to habits that you’ll have to undo before moving forward with contemporary styles.

Myth: I can’t hurt my voice.

False. Vocal damage is a thing. If you’ve ever lost your voice after screaming at a Josh Groban concert (wait, just me?), you experienced acute (short-term) vocal trauma.

That said, long-term vocal damage can also occur when you regularly implement harmful vocal habits. The most common type of long-term vocal damage is nodules (also incorrectly referred to as “nodes”). Nodules are bumps that form on the vocal cords in response to trauma. Nodules can sometimes be reversed with voice therapy, but sometimes require surgery to remove.

If you’re concerned about nodules or some other vocal pathology, consult an ENT (Ear, Nose, & Throat Doctor) or a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) who specializes in voice.

Myth: I need to repeat scales a bunch until I sound better.

Scales and exercises can be extremely helpful, but only if you have an intention in mind. Use scales/warm-ups/exercises to establish a particular habit: It’s a lot easier to apply a vocal concept to a predictable pattern of notes and a single syllable than attempt something brand-new in a song.

That means that when you’re doing scales, make sure you know what you should be focusing on and what sound you should be trying to achieve. You should consistently be adjusting and tweaking the entire time you’re singing. If you start spacing out and mindlessly sing along, you’re reinforcing your old voice habits instead of trying to do something new.

Myth: I hate the way I sound when I hear a recording of myself. I must be awful.

Fun fact: We’re biologically programmed to hate the sound of our own voices. We’re used to hearing our voices from the inside-out. Once we hear our voice from the outside, it sounds wrong. Our brain thinks: “That’s familiar, but it’s not quite the same. It’s distorted. Something is wrong. I don’t like it.”

Don’t beat yourself up. Give yourself grace. If you must listen to yourself, listen objectively. (Aka with tangible goals in mind rather than “I’m good” or “I’m bad.”)

Myth: I just need to take a bigger breath and that’ll fix everything.

Bigger is sometimes better, but not with breath. In fact, if you over-inhale, you’ll add to tension in your singing voice. Think of it as a pitcher. If you fill a pitcher to the very brim (inhale 100%), you’ll have a hard time controlling the pour and probably spill everywhere.

If you’re having breath issues, you may need to work on your inhale, but chances are it’s more about how you control the exhale. Read more about breathing¬†here!