One of the most common issues I tackle when singers come into my studio is how to sing high notes without straining. When a singer is feeling tight as they ascend in their range, the usual culprit is too much engagement in the muscle that is responsible for their chest voice. They are trying to pull their chest voice up too high, which is causing tension in their vocal tract. If pulled too high on a consistent basis this can cause damage to their vocal folds and will won’t allow for longevity due to vocal fatigue and strain. To prevent vocal damage, I work with them on finding a way to accessing the upper part of their range in a tension free manner.
In this post, I’m going to tell you how to sing high notes without straining! As usual, if you don’t feel like reading, watch the accompanying video!
There are four components I like to tackle when approaching singing high notes. I’ll take you through each step.
1. Warm Up
2. Open Space
3. Head Voice
4. Hit The High Notes
If you have downloaded my free guide on how to warm up, you know how important it is to your vocal health to make sure you warm up your voice before singing –especially singing high notes. I always use the analogy that we are vocal athletes and just like a basketball player needs to warm up before a workout or practice, we need to get our voices ready for a workout.
Exercise: Start with a lip trill and go from the bottom to the top of your range. Watch 1:06 of the video and do this with me.
Let’s try to create some open space in your mouth when you sing. You might have heard people tell you to go for a yawn feeling inside of your mouth with a high soft palate and that’s exactly what we’re going to do here. When approaching this exercise try to avoid having any tension in your face as well as in your mouth.
Exercise: Imagine that you just came home from a long day of work and let out a long sigh. Now let out that sigh on the word “mum”. Watch 3:10 in the video and do this exercise with me.
I hope that title doesn’t scare you. No, I’m not going to have you singing your high notes in head voice. However, like I mentioned before, if you are straining it means there’s too much involvement in the muscle that is responsible for your chest voice. This means that the muscles responsible for your head voice are not developed, so we will work on developing them.
Exercise: Watch 4:49 and do this vocal exercise to encourage head register with me!
HIT THE HIGH NOTES.
Now that we have warmed up, made sure we can sing with open space and have worked on our head voice, let’s hit these high notes with more force and keep the open space. I like to have my students bend their knees on the way up the scale to relieve any tension that might be in the throat.
Exercise: Watch 6:05 in the video to do an exercise with me that ties together the open space as we tackle singing high notes.
I hope this was helpful and gave you a new way to approach reaching for high notes. Let me know in the comments if this was helpful for you!