Voice strain occurs when the muscles in your throat tighten up, which prevents the vocal folds (cords) from moving freely at the air passes through the vocal tract. It is very important to remember not to force sound when singing.

When you force the sound this leads to more frustration, tension, tightness, and pain, which can cause injury. It important to keep the throat muscles relaxed (as best as you can) and hydrated, no matter what register you are in. Think of a gymnast learning how to do a split; warming up is the first step. Secondly, it takes time, stretching those muscles a little at a time to complete a split; otherwise you can hurt yourself.

Singing should never feel uncomfortable; you should never feel any pain in your throat. When you strain, the tone of your voice will change, it will sound like yelling. There is a difference between straining (with the throat muscles) and using the diaphragm to give the support and control needed to hit the notes. When singing with a band, a singer will overcompensate because the drums or guitar can be loud. Ask to have your microphone turned up to prevent straining in your voice.

The best ways to do to prevent vocal strain are warming up before singing and use your vocal exercises to expand your range, gradually going a little higher or a little lower with every warm up. Another important element, use the diaphragm for support and control; the vocal power comes from the diaphragm. And lastly, never force the notes. Take care of your voice!

Listen to Leylani Busiello singing “Exhale” without any vocal strain.


How are a banjo player and a blind javelin thrower alike? Both command immediate attention and alarm, and force everyone to move out of range.

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