The quality of a person's singing voice depends on whether she is using her voice correctly. Someone singing with a croaky voice is using her voice incorrectly and could be causing damage. Singers must warm up and prepare their voices before singing full belt.
Learn about how the voice is produced to gain an awareness of how to use your voice correctly, to prevent a croaky voice and to avoid injuring yourself. A muscle called the diaphragm sits supporting the lungs, allowing the chest cavity to contract and expand, projecting air up through the glottis which is the opening between the vocal cords where the air gently vibrates, creating sound. The tone and direction of the sound depend on where the air is placed within the vocal cavity. The mouth is where the hard and soft palette, teeth and tongue all serve to articulate the sound produced.
Exercise by swimming, for example, to improve fitness levels to build stamina and help breath control. To increase heart rate and strengthen lungs, do aerobic exercises such as brisk walking, jogging and cycling. Relaxation activities are beneficial--practice yoga or the Alexander Technique to relieve muscle tension and make you more aware of your body. A healthy body helps to support a healthy voice.
Carry out breathing exercises daily as breath control is essential to support the voice. Adults breathe incorrectly by shallow breathing--correct breathing requires a person to fully inhale and exhale with steady control.
For the first exercise, place your finger in front of your mouth to feel the stream of warm air dispersed. Slowly inhale until your rib cage is fully expanded. Next, exhale slowly with control until all the air has been released. Repeat this exercise several times.
Next, inhale, hold for a few seconds and release the air slowing while verbally counting to reach the highest number possible, without rushing, before your voice expires. Repeat several times, trying to beat your last count to improve your breath capacity.
Try the "whispered ah" exercise: Release the jaw joint. Keep breathing, smile and breathe out to whisper the sound "ah."
Try glottis popping: Keep your neck and tongue root loose, stop the breath, put pressure on your breath using your abdominal muscles to close the glottis, then release the throat which causes a small popping sound. Do not collapse the throat, but repeat the exercise. A breathy sound is caused by the glottis not closing properly and so this exercise helps you to become more aware of how to open and close the glottis correctly.
Croaky or breathy voices are caused when the singer pushes too much air through the vocal cords without control. This can potentially damage the vocal cords by causing nodules which have to be surgically removed.
Work on good posture to help support the voice. Slowly roll the body down from the neck to the toes, a vertebrae at a time, and hang loosely and gently sway before slowing rising to the upright position. Stand with legs a foot apart, straight back, shoulders back, neck straight but relaxed, feeling your hair is being pulled upwards. Good posture helps the tonal quality, resonance and projection of the voice through the body, whereas bad posture causes muscle tension and obstruction in the air passages and affects the tonal quality of the voice.
Avoid pulling the head back with a closed jaw as this closes the throat, placing stress on the larynx. Do not lock the knees--this causes a throaty croaky tone, as knee locking causes tension in the abdominal muscles. Slouching forward causes a monotonous and flat tone, and pulling the back in forces you to sing from the upper chest which effects breath control. Avoid a sore croaky throat by not pushing the head forward and dropping the jaw--this constricts the throat which means the air is being forced through the glottis too harshly.
Carry out some facial and mouth exercises before singing. Massage the face with your fingers to relax the muscles around the mouth and the jaw. Screw your face up tight and then release and open your mouth as wide as you can, and repeat, to release tension. Pretend to chew a toffee or nibble peas to warm the muscles within your mouth. Do some lip buzzes and flick the tongue against the upper teeth to loosen the tongue's root. Practice singing scales by starting to hum from the lowest note and steadily rising to the highest note that you can comfortably reach. Repeat.
Never sing without warming up your body and your voice, as singing from cold can damage your vocal cords, and to sing from a cold position means that your muscles will be tense, you will push the air without control and the tonal quality of the voice will sound croaky. Avoid dairy foods, as they produce too much mucous in the throat. Avoid smoking, as this can dry and damage the throat and cause a croaky tone. Do not sing in the cold, as this effects the voice by tensing the muscles. Don't sing if you are suffering from cold or flu, as your voice will be strained.