Singing without crying can be very difficult. That lump in your throat is in the worst place for a singer. I’ve had this issue many times while on stage, so it was something that warranted a little bit of research.
Crying can be prevented while singing by doing the following:
- Control your breathing
- Relax your facial muscles
- Focus on the technical aspect of the next line
- Practice the song multiple times beforehand
- Identify and work through the cause of the emotions
These are some practical things you can do to prevent crying from affecting your singing. In addition to these techniques, it is important to understand the effect that crying has on the voice the reasons why you are crying during your performance.
How to Prevent Crying (too much)
Crying can be a very positive aspect of your performance when you sing. It can help you convey the meaning of the song to your audience and allow them to connect more easily with both you and the music.
However, crying can also have a negative impact on your voice and can make you lose control. This can have the opposite effect on the audience, so it’s worth having some techniques up your sleeve to find that balance.
Your breathing is something that you should already be focusing on while singing. When you become emotional, your breathing can become shallow and rapid. Try to go back to the basics of your singing technique, taking big deep breaths. This will help calm you and will steady your voice.
When you feel yourself tearing up, you tend to tense the muscles in your face and neck. This is because we will naturally try to stop ourselves from crying in public. Tensing up will cause your muscles to twitch as they start to lose control, so relax your muscles as much as possible. Your breathing should help with this.
Common areas of the face that will tighten are around your mouth and eyes. Try to relax your lips so that your mouth is open. Your eyes will likely tense into a squint. Choosing to either close them or open them wider should take some of the tension away.
You should also lighten your tone so that you don’t strain your voice. Singing softly will not only save you from damaging your voice, but will also add to the emotion of the moment.
Allowing tears to flow has much less of an effect on your voice than attempting to stop them. Shedding a tear or two while maintaining a steady and beautiful tone can be a very powerful image for the audience. If you try to stop your tears, this will result in tension in your face and throat.
Focusing on the next line of the song can be a great way to take your mind off whatever has caused you to become emotional. Distraction is a well-known method that helps with crying. If the next line is also an emotional one, you can think of something completely unrelated. Have a preconceived image that you can bring to mind to help calm you down.
Practicing the song beforehand is something that will allow your brain to adapt to your emotions. Let yourself become emotional during rehearsals so that you can employ these techniques in a safe environment. You might respond differently during a performance compared to practicing on your own, so performing in front of friends and family will also be a great help.
Finally, try to identify what is causing you to become emotional when you sing. If you can pinpoint what it is exactly, then you can work through the emotions. Something like the losing a loved one may require professional help, or you might need to take a break from singing to come to terms with the your emotional trauma.
Effect of Crying on Your Voice
As I mentioned, crying can have a positive effect on your performance by engaging the audience. Even if it affects your voice, a few rough notes here and there can give your performance a raw tone and make it feel more real. It is when you start to lose control that it becomes a problem.
The lump in your throat is very common when you cry. This is the swelling of the vocal cords, or glottis, which causes you to feel restricted when you swallow. The vibrations of the vocal cords produce sound when you sing, which is why you can experience cracking and weakness in your voice.
The swelling will also limit your range, meaning you may not be able to sing as high or as low as you usually can. If you attempt to force these extremes, you risk damaging your vocal cords.
Another issue is when your words become unclear. If the audience can’t understand the lyrics you are singing, they will disengage from the performance. This is usually due to the tightening of your throat and mouth.
You might also experience a runny nose because tears drain from your eyes into your nose. This can be a distraction (you don’t want people to see tears streaming out your nose!) and can cause you to sniff involuntarily. Sniffing will affect the depth and rhythm of your breathing, and you will need to be conscious of sniffing into the microphone.
Overall, these things will cause you to lose control of your voice, but you can counteract them using the techniques mentioned in this article. In doing this, you should be able to find the perfect balance between delivering an emotional performance and sounding good while you do it.
What Causes You to Cry when Singing?
There are many reasons you might cry when you sing, and it’s important to identify these reasons if you want to stop them from ruining your performance.
One common cause is the genre of the song. You are less likely to break down in tears when singing about dancing than you are singing about a broken heart. You might not have control over what you sing, so this is something to keep in mind. It is not ideal to avoid songs that make you cry, as there can be beauty and power in adding emotional songs to your performance.
Your connection to the music also makes a difference. If you are singing a cover song, you will have to do your research to find any emotional connection to the lyrics. If you wrote the song yourself, the attachment is already there because the lyrics were written from your own emotions and memories.
In saying that, sometimes a song written by someone else will remind you of an emotional time in your life. These could be either happy or sad memories. The emotions might be triggered by lyrics, imagery within the song, or the song itself.
Someone crying in the audience could be another factor. Naturally, we feel empathy towards another person if we see their sadness. Or the fact that your performance has brought them to tears can make you feel quite emotional.
Your performance might also be an overwhelming experience for you. You may be singing a song you’ve always dreamed of singing. Or perhaps you are singing in front of a large crowd for the first time. Or your family, who have never heard you sing, could have made an effort to be there in the audience. There are so many things that could overwhelm you.
Hormones play a big part in causing people to cry without reason. Any change to the hormone levels in your body can cause the body to react in unusual ways. These levels can be affected by natural hormonal cycles or having surgery or treatment that involves any of your hormonal glands. We usually blame hormones if there is no other logical reason for our emotional outbursts.
Given that there are so many things that can make you cry during your performance, it is best to learn how to cope with these emotions rather than avoiding them altogether.