Are you often called out for a bellowy, or shrieking sound when you sing? While volume is good, bawling at your audience is not.
It can be tricky to figure out how to stop shouting when singing if it’s an ingrained habit. The good news is you can harness this kind of vocal ability and turn it into a sweeter, yet powerful sound. Adapt a yell to a belt, or change your tone altogether.
Read on to discover the tips and techniques to lead you from a harsh, coarse voice, into one that’ll make people want to listen.
How to stop shouting when singing
Some genres of music encourage shouting – metal, some rock and even elements of musical theatre can incorporate this type of sound. But if you’re a pop singer, shouting can be irksome and offputting for those listening. And even if you do fall under the categories that use some shout technique, it’s worth working on refining it, as any old yell just won’t cut it.
Many of the solutions for how to stop shouting when singing will not only solve this one issue but make you a better singer overall too. So, even if you don’t tend to yell, we have some great tips to up your game.
Is shouting bad for your voice?
Another reason you may need to work on this element of your vocals is that it can be damaging. While it’s perfectly possible to shout without hurting your throat, do it wrong and you’ll be storing up issues for the future. This could include possible nodules or vocal cord haemorrhage (if you’re doing it to excess). Shouting as a kid is natural. And we often carry this forward into our singing, but in a manner that puts too much pressure on the voice.
Yelling at your mates isn’t as demanding as yelling your way through a song. Although, as a professional artist, you should be wary of tiring your voice by shouting too much, particularly in loud environments, like clubs, pubs and festivals. Especially if you’re drinking, you may not be aware that you’re overdoing it.
How can I sing without shouting?
Find out if you’re shouting when singing by one of the following methods:
- Record yourself and play it back
- Get a vocal coach who will give you objective feedback
- Ask peer musicians for their honest opinion
Some shouting can be useful in your lesson time. There are exercises that include shouting to help develop projection. If you have a small quiet voice, including some shout quality can be great. But if you’re a yeller, avoid these exercises in favour of more controlled ones.
If you’ve identified that you are guilty of shouting and it’s impairing your performance, you can start working on refining it. And some of there may even be a quick fix.
Eliminating shouting voice
First and foremost, ask yourself these questions:
Do I need a mic, or is my mic loud enough?
Is my backing overbearing and am I trying to shout over it?
If I’m recording, is it in an inhospitable environment, that’s overly echoey or muffled?
If either of these is relevant to you, make the necessary amendments, by adjusting the volume. Should it be your mic that’s at fault, you can check out some better options, although it may involve a bit of a splurge.
How do you not shout when singing?
But if you’re backing is fine and you have a great mic, it may be your vocal technique at fault. The next question to ask yourself is:
Do I always shout-sing, or is it just when I’m nervous or stressed?
We can often slip into bad habits as a response to pressure. And in an attempt to project, we may find ourselves forgetting our good foundations and resorting to a yell. To combat this, we need to train muscle memory to sing properly. Much like we train ourselves to remember lyrics by saying them over and over, we can teach the body to respond appropriately by working on technique. Practice good breathing and healthy projection regularly and you’ll be less likely to fall into poor habits when under the spotlight.
Another aspect of overcoming this stress response is to use relaxation techniques. This will help prevent a surge of adrenaline and turn off the panic.
Screaming vs singing
Screaming is like shouting, but high pitched. It’s commonly found in deathcore, screamo and other sub-genres of EMO and metal. But as with shouting, some pop singers lean on screaming as a means to hit some high notes. This is not a good idea and screaming should only be used to create a specific and appropriate effect, as, like shouting, it can be very offputting.
How do I stop pushing when singing?
Are you feeling pressure on your throat when you sing? If so, you may be pushing it too hard. Pushing from your belly, however, is a good thing. This is your powerhouse. So all you need to do to stop pushing is to transfer the pressure from your face, throat, neck and chest and fire up your diaphragm instead. Adding in a little vibrato is a great tip. This will take your voice in a very different direction to yelling and soften the sound.
The most important part of singing is good breathing. And this is a vital part of how to stop shouting when singing.
How to belt high notes
Shouting is often confused with belting. The latter is a very handy technique that suits pop ballads, some rock music and musical theatre. Belting takes place from your chest voice into the head voice register. If you’re not doing it properly the notes will sound strained. This arises when your vocal cords are too tense. But the key to a good belt is not to crossover into a forced, pitchy tone. Thnk about projecting rather than hollering.
Here are some tips on how to achieve an effective belt.
How to sing high notes without straining
Another reason you may shout when singing is because you’re trying to hit notes outwith your range. This isn’t a quick fix and will take time. You need to ease your voice into a higher register, through a gradual process of scales. There are certain sounds that will prevent a shouting sound. Anything with a closed mouth – like humming – is excellent. So are sirens (singing through a scale to emulate a siren noise from high to low and back again – do this on an ‘ng’). And if you are singing an ‘ah’, preface it with a consonant – m is a good one. This will force you into a place of control and take the edge off it. These closed vowels and closed mouth sounds allow your natural power to build, but without reaching into harsh vocal areas. Watch out for ‘ahs’ and ‘ees’ that can lend themselves to a shout.
Lifting your soft palate (the fleshy bit at the upper back of your mouth), relaxing the face and opening up the throat so that the sound can pass, will all help get the sound escape. Similarly, consider your body alignment. Your body is the vessel through which the sound is made and can escape. Good posture will help you have a full-bodied sound. Don’t lock your knees, keep your spine in alignment, shoulders back and relax! You’ll feel better for it too.
Give your voice longevity and make it easy on the ear by following the techniques we’ve outlined in this article. You can always come back to a shout here and there, for dramatic effect and to accentuate parts of a track. But your newfound sweet tone and controlled power will help you go further as an up and coming artist.
- How can I stop being embarrassed when singing?
Overcoming shyness or stage fright can feel like a big hurdle. It’s very common so you’re not alone. Ultimately, the more you do it, the more familiar it’ll become. Start by making some videos of you singing, or booking slots at a small open mic night. Joining a choir can also be really helpful.
- Is it normal to have bad singing days?
As we have bad hair days, it’s normal to have bad singing days. This can be due to tiredness, exposure to irritants, viruses, consuming too much dairy, lack of practice, oversinging or just not feeling it. Identify if you need vocal rest. If not, try some gentle warm-ups and easy repertoire.
- How can I strengthen my weak vocal cords?
Like an athlete, you strengthen the muscles required to sing, by using them. Follow a programme of exercises following vocal technique and stay healthy. Your vocal cords are probably not as weak as you think, you just need to build them up by working them out.
Have you learned to stop shouting when singing, or is it something you’re currently struggling with? Let us know in the comments below.