6 Easy Tips To Help Stop Singing From Your Throat

stop singing from throat

Throat singing is a real and unique singing technique, but it’s almost certainly not what you’re going for in good singing. 

Singing from your throat results in a tense, thin sound and could even hurt your vocal cords (sometimes permanently). 

I don’t want you or my students to sing from their throat, so I decided to write down these 5 easy tips to help stop singing from the throat. 

  1. Imagine Swallowing An Apple While You Sing
  2. Do It Wrong, Then Right
  3. Meditate Or Relax Before Singing
  4. Open Your Mouth And Lift Your Palate First
  5. Practice Good Vowel Placement
  6. Use Air Support, Not Muscles

I’ll guide you through why this works and a quick singing exercise for each of these tips. 

Keeping your throat at ease is critical for singing success. 

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#1 Imagine Swallowing An Apple While You Sing

For some singers, imagination and visualization is enough to help you open your throat while singing. 

The visual that always helped me was to imagine that I was trying to swallow an apple without letting it touch the sides of my throat. 

For me, this instantly opens my throat, and I can focus on how this feels. 

This isn’t to say I imagine this every second I’m singing, but I’ll stop and reset myself periodically, especially if I notice I’m singing tense or with a more closed throat. 

Other visualizations I’ve heard that work for other people is: 

  • Holding hot coal in your throat
  • Flattening your tongue against the inside of your throat
  • Imagine the opening lens of a camera (this is your throat)


Close your eyes and sit or stand with a good, balanced posture. 

Breathe in through your mouth. As you do, imagine a chunk of apple needs to pass all the way down your throat without touching the sides. 

Keep your eyes closed and focus on that feeling. 

Breathe in and out with that open feeling. Don’t force it. Do this for a minute. 

Now, pick a simple etude, song, or phrase from whatever you’re practicing. 

It’s best if this is easy and not too high. 

Sing with your eyes closed and keep this feeling. 

Do this as part of your normal warmup for a while. Then, transfer that feeling to your other music. 

#2 Do It Wrong, Then Right

Ages ago now, one of my professors gave me a simple piece of advice that’s stuck with me ever since.

If someone doesn’t know what the right way to do something is, show them the wrong way. 

It’s simple, but wow, it’s effective! 

The contrast between one way or another in any musical concept is a quick way to help students and yourself understand what you’re trying to get across.

The same is true with keeping an open throat while singing. 

If you don’t really know how to open your throat more, try singing with a closed throat first. 


Pick a simple song, etude, or exercise. 

Sing it with a closed throat or thin, tinny voice. I’ve had some students describe this as a baby-like voice. 

Overexaggerate how bad and tense it sounds. 

A tight throat does not create a stronger sound. 

Now relax, and focus on how your throat felt and how your voice sounded. 

Sing the exact same thing but swing the opposite way. 

Make everything feel and the vocal sound as different as possible. 

For some, this works better than any other method to open their throat while singing. 

#3 Meditate Or Relax Before Singing

Tension is the enemy of all good singing techniques.

If a part is hard to sing, tension can help you force it, but it won’t sound good. 

You may even injure yourself. 

Professional singers focus on singing with energy and emotion but without tension in their vocal folds. 

Taking a few minutes to meditate or relax or focus before singing can help relieve tension in your body. 

This will, by extension, lessen tension in your throat and allow it to be more open. 

Simple Exercise: 

Follow something like this short-guided meditation. 

#4 Open Your Mouth And Lift Your Palate First

Your throat doesn’t exist in isolation on your body.

It’s connected to all the muscles of your breathing and eating processes. 

As such, sometimes it’s easier to trigger more openness by opening other areas as well. 

For the throat and singing process, opening the mouth taller and lifting the soft palate is probably the best option. 

The soft palate is the soft part on the roof of your mouth. 

If you don’t know where it is, follow these steps: 

  1. Place your tongue where the roof of your mouth meets your teeth. 
  2. Move it back toward your throat along the roof of your mouth. 
  3. About halfway back, the roof of your mouth will become soft and squishy. 
  4. This is your soft palate! 


Touch your tongue to the soft palate and force yourself to yawn*. 

Notice how the soft part of your mouth raises or lifts. 

Touch the soft palate again with your tongue (fingers are OK too, but they need to be clean!). 

Focus on raising the soft palate while breathing in and out without the whole yawning process. 

Now sing with that open-raised feeling. 

Even if you don’t focus on the throat, by raising the soft palate, your throat is soon to follow. 

This is a weird singing practice, but it really does help raise awareness of how your singing apparatus works. 

*Further Reading: Why do I yawn when I sing?

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#5 Practice Good Vowel Placement

Have you thought about where your vowels show up?

Have you spent time figuring out what each vowel feels like?

Do you know how to make each specific variation of a vowel sound its clearest?

Vowel placement is a huge topic in the singing world. 

It’s also one that’ll help with opening your throat. 

Good singing technique is all connected, so when one part improves, the others do too. 


I’ve never found a good way to write about vowel placement, so here’s a great video to guide you through some of the basics. 

A good vocal coach is a must for really mastering this area. 

#6 Use Air Support, Not Muscles

Throat tension bad. Relaxed and supported muscles good! 

Tarzan speak aside, it’s impossible to open your throat and create a bigger singing voice when your body is tense. 

It’s the same reason I suggested meditating before. 

But that’s only one piece of the puzzle. 

An even bigger piece is proper air support when singing. 

Think about it: What is singing?

Singing is intentionally pushing air through your vocal folds (muscles) to change pitch and using your articulation (muscles) like lips and tongues to create words.

Two parts are needed for singing: air + muscles. 

Muscles can do a lot of the work, but they shouldn’t. 

You can force your muscles to push your notes higher. 

You can force your abdomen and lungs to push out more air for longer notes*. 

*Further Reading: Our guide for how to sing longer notes

But you shouldn’t. 

The added tension closes the throat and lessens the quality of your tone. 

It can even cause a sore throat and severe vocal fatigue. 

A lack of breath support means your muscles need to work hard (thus throat tightness). 

Avoid it by increasing the amount of air and breath support you have. 

Breathing Exercise: 

Center your body in a comfortable but upright sitting or standing position.

Close your eyes and relax your hands down at your sides or on your lap.

Breathe in a full, deep breath through your mouth for a slow count of 4.

Hold your breath without tension for a count of 8.

Let it out through your nose for a count of 6.

Repeat 5+ times.

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Zach VanderGraaff

Zach VanderGraaff is a K-5 music teacher in Michigan with 12 years of experience. He's the President of the Michigan Kodaly Educators and founder of the Dynamic Music Room.

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