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How to Shatter Glass with your Voice

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THE VOICE CONNECTION. COM, Jaime Vendera, and all persons involved in this website and/or lesson are not responsible for any damages, injuries, or losses due to any individual person(s) attempting to try this at home. Although this feat is possible, it is dangerous. Breaking Glass in front of your face as Jaime does creates a shattering effect. It is possible that if you try this, the glass will shatter. It is possible when the glass shatters it will lodge itself into various parts of your body, including but not limited to: your throat, mouth, eyes etc. Please use extreme caution when attempting this lesson. Please also note, wearing glasses, even sunglasses does not ensure safety for your eyes.

For those of you who have seen my appearance on Good Morning America and MythBusters; I want to tell you that shattering glass is NOT easy!!! Let me tell you my story:


On October 28th 2004, I received an email from Jim Gillette. For those of you who don't know Jim, he was the lead singer of Nitro and is unmatched by any other in range and power. He has over a 6-octave range and can sing louder than 120 decibels. Jim was contacted by Linda Wolkovitchassociate producer of Discovery Channel's hit show Mythbusters.

The MythBusters crew was scheduled to appear on Good Morning America on November 9th and wanted to prove or disprove the myth about a singer being able to shatter glass. Linda had heard that Jim Gillette was famous for shattering glasses with his voice by using an amplifier, and was hoping that Jim would be interested in flying to New York for the show. Unfortunately, Jim declined, due to his busy schedule and Linda was frantic to find anyone who could perform this feat. She asked Jim if he knew of anyone who could fill his shoes.

Jim is the only singer I have heard of, Besides Ella Fitzgeraldwho could perform this feat. Although I very seriously doubt I could fill his shoes, Jim told Linda that he knew of a singer and author who owned a website called The Voice Connection, that could perform this feat with no problem. So, the email went something like; How would you like to appear on national television shattering a glass with your voice??? This is no joke and we dont have much time. Email me as soon as you get this if you are interested. So, of course I emailed him immediately, which was shortly followed by a phone call from Jim. I was in total disbelief when he called. Jim had heard me sing years ago and had me hit a few high notes on the phone. He then said I definitely had the voice for it and could teach me over the phone. I talked with Linda that night and told her I would do it. The original plan was for me to fly to San Francisco on November 3rd to practice for two days, then fly home for the  weekend, and finally fly to New York on November 7th. But, due to a change in scheduling with Good Morning America, the spot was moved up from 11/09 to 11/08, so I had to practice at home. 

On Wednesday, November 3rd, I received about 100 wine glasses and an amplification system from Meyer Sound. I sat up the equipment and gave it several tries, with no luck. Then Jim called me. He walked me through the process and explained the physics behind shattering glass, then told me to email him when I was successful. Within two minutes of hanging up the phone, I blew up my first glass. I tried it again to make sure it wasn't a fluke. By the time I had emailed Jim and he called me back, I shattered 6 glasses

My practice and planning schedule was hectic. I shattered 19 glasses that night, rested my voice on Thursday, and then shattered a couple dozen glasses on Friday. I flew to New York on Saturday and met with the MythBusters that night for dinner. Actually, Jamie was already in bed, but I had dinner with Linda, Adam Savage, his wife Julia, and Roger Schwenke, staff scientist from Meyer Sound. The next day was non-stop work, but it was fun. We began by visiting the set of GMA, and then moved on to the Discovery building where I basically screamed at glasses all day long. Several professional opera singers from the New York Opera showed up to try out for the spot of my opponent on the show. Being a voice coach, I was eager to share my newly acquired techniques and was very successful in teaching many of the opera singers to shatter glasses by amplification.

By the end of the night, Roger Schwenke asked me if I was screaming as loud as I could. I told him no because I was preserving my voice for the show. He then told me that I was above 100 decibels and none of the opera singers could get above 90 decibels. Jamie Hyneman was also concerned, afraid that all of the screaming was hurting my voice. I explained to him that by observing proper voice technique, I could sing, scream and shout all night, and would be fine the next morning, as long as I could warm up.

If you have seen the video clip from the site, I must tell you that you haven't seen the whole video. The original video showed the opera singer we picked from the previous night's tryout. She was allowed to go first on the show, was given two chances and failed both times. In her defense, I have to say that the reason we picked her was because she had repetitive success in shattering glasses after I had taught her, and shattered several glasses the morning of Good Morning America, during practice, before the live appearance. It takes precision and power. Even I had trouble during practice because I didn't get a chance to warm up before exploding glasses at 5 AM. After her two chances, I walked on stage, screamed for about 10-15 seconds, and POW!!! It blew up. TheMythBusters and the Discovery network were ecstatic. Linda told me that they wanted to do a full episode with me and believed that I could shatter the glasses without any amplification, and was hoping I would fly out sometime in early 2005.

Over the next few months, I continued to practice developing an un-amplified technique. I practiced the techniques from both of my books and continued to study the way that glass would resonate. A friend of mine by the name of Paul DeHart would constantly urge me to scream at the glasses. He eventually started screaming at them with me and I dubbed him my vocal sparring partner. By the beginning of January 2005, I shattered my 1st glass and shattered 14 more before flying to San Francisco to film the MythBusters episode. To prove that I could deliver the goods and inspire the MythBusters crew to fly me out as soon as possible, I decided to record myself shattering glass #8 and send the clip to Linda Wolkovitch for her, Jamie, Adamand executive producer Peter Engle to watch for themselves. My diabolical plan worked and the following week, scheduling was planned for my trip.

When filming the episode, I shattered glass #16, officially making me the first person in history ever documented to shatter a glass by voice alone. I almost feel like I am cheating my vocal coach Jim Gillette, because I know for a fact that he can and has shatter glasses by voice alone. Jim is a great friend who truly believes in me as a voice teacher and is proud that I have proven myself a worthy student and have received the title of first person ever to shatter a glass by voice alone. Since Jim has showed me such kindness, I have decided to share the same kindness with all of my Voice Connection students. If you are ready to shatter glass, here are some tips to help you along your way.


If you are really serious about trying to accomplish this feat, you will need the following: crystal wine glasses, straws, protective eyewear, and both of my books- Raise Your Voice and The Ultimate Breathing Workout. I would not even attempt shattering glasses without first developing the strength and range of your voice or you'll risk the chance of hurting your voice. Both of my books will help you to achieve your voice potential. The glasses of course are to protect your eyes from glass shards. The straws will help you to zero in on the frequency it takes to shatter the glass. Another tip would be to purchase Jim Gillette's Vocal Power. Jim has an exercise that I have practiced over and over to strengthen my voice for screaming as loud as I could.

 Shattering crystal wine glasses requires the perfect combination of the exact frequency and the right amount of amplitude. The glasses I have shattered have fell between a Tenor high C and an Alto F, which is five steps higher. Every glass is different due to the individual makeup and density of the glass. Most glasses are not tuned to true pitch. For instance, a glass which might sound like a Tenor C# or 550 hertz might be slightly higher (550.3 hertz) or lower (549.9 hertz). If you cannot match the frequency exactly, it will not break.

It's like tuning in a radio station. If I wanted to listen to my favorite radio station 106.3 WAMX www.x1063.com. I have to tune in to 106.3.

If I tune in to 106.2 or 106.4, I won't be able to hear anything but static.

Get the picture?

Of course, the other main factor is amplitude. The sound has to be extremely loud. The glass I broke for the show took 105 decibels to break. The average trained singer cannot get above 80-90 decibels. But, there is still a chance that you can break one with the aid of an amplifier. We had great success in New York with singers from the New York Opera. I had what I consider to be the best success with Adam Savage, when I coached him through breaking three glasses in a row, with the aid of an amplifier. So if you still want to try it, here are some pointers.

When you purchase your first crystal wine glass, try finding one that isn't real high in pitch, and has a resonating ring when you tap it. The more a glass rings from the flick of your finger, the easier it will be to shatter. When the ring of a glass dies quickly or sounds thuddy, it will be harder to break. It will still break, but you will have to work harder. The trick to shattering a glass is to increase this ringing or resonation until it overpowers the glass.

Practice matching the same pitch of the glass with a very soft head tone, or a light falsetto. All you should aim for now, is to make the glass resonate by the sound of your voice. You'll need to learn how to sustain a long steady sustained pitch. This is why it is important to develop your technique. My second book, The Ultimate Breathing Workout, will teach you to sustain long notes.

When you can match and sustain a pitch that resonates the glass, you need to increase the volume. A LOT!!! Make sure that you are wearing safety glasses!!! A much safer bet would be to set the glass in front of an amplifier. In fact, in all honesty, I prefer for you to use an amplifier for safety purposes. Just because you can make the glass sing, doesn't mean you have mastered the technique. At this point, you need to add a straw to the glass. As you approach the exact frequency, the straw will begin to dance. I have actually had the straw fly straight up out of the glass from the force. If you are one of my determined students who still chooses to practice without an amplifier, you can practice sitting the wine glass on a table, and scream at the glass from about 2-4 inches away to practice making the glass freely vibrate. If the volume is extremely powerful, the glass will begin to vibrate and move across the table.

If you are extremely loud (like me) the glass will begin to dance and roll around on its edge. When the glass begins to dance or the straw begins to move wildly, you are close to the frequency. Try to hold on to the note and add more volume, and, if you are lucky, the glass will explode.

That's as far as I can take you, the rest is up to you. The only way to achieve results is to practice. You never truly know when to expect the glass to shatter. I have shattered close to 100 hundred glasses and it still scares me every time I break one. I know when I'm close to the thresh-hold because of the loud resonant sound of the glass. When the glass starts to resonate and the straw starts to dance, maintain that exact frequency.

Be forewarned, if you attempt this feat, I am in no way responsible for any damage that might occur. Although I have never been cut, it is still extremely dangerous. Jim Gillette personally warned me of the dangers of getting glass shards in my throat from the explosion. So take precautions. Make sure you wear your safety goggles. You might consider putting up a mesh screen between you and the glass.

And, if you wake up with a sore throat and a hoarse voice, don't blame me. It takes a lot of pressure to get the glass to vibrate, but if you are using proper technique, a sore throat shouldn't be a problem. If it hurts, whether after practicing or the next morning, then your technique is wrong. It should never hurt. I screamed for hours both in New York and San Francisco before filming the amplified and un-amplified version with no problem whatsoever. That comes from lots of practice and proper technique.

Now the rest is up to you. Please email me at venderaj@msn.com to let me know of your results. GOOD LUCK!!!!!!!

Jaime Vendera

Author of "Raise Your Voice", "Mindset: programming Your Mind for Success" and "Online Teaching Secrets Revealed"




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