10 Tips on how to sing higher notes
Learning how to sing higher notes is a special skill that takes dedication, practice, perseverance and proper voice training from a professional vocal coach. Since we launched in 2010, Bohemian Vocal Studio has coached thousands of students all around the world how to sing higher notes, and has steadily grown into the premier online voice studio for rock singing lessons and POWERFUL voice coaching.
With these 10 tips on how to sing higher notes, you will learn how to sing higher than ever before, and more POWER than you could ever have imagined! Lets get started with 10 tips on how to sing higher notes:
#1 – Stop thinking of a note as “high” or “difficult”
It sounds simple, but the anticipation and tension of singing towards what you feel is a difficult or high note will cause you to tense up and strain as you approach this note. The best thing to do is build the proper coordination first by singing light and gently, even in pure head voice if you have to – and then slowly adding some depth to your sound as you develop your middle voice coordination to build a stronger tone.
#2 – Don’t look up!
Looking up when trying to sing higher notes is a common bad habit which is built out of improper setup and a lack of confidence in your technique. Looking up will cause you to tense and strain unnecessary musculature, and ultimately make you fall flat on those high notes instead of singing them with confidence, gusto and ease.
#3 – Take your time
Rome wasn’t built in a day. Take your time building your voice and developing solid vocal technique, and the high notes will come with time – don’t try to run before you can walk. Building coordination in the different elements of your voice is an ongoing process, so don’t try to go from zero to hero too soon – work up to it in increments.
#4 – Foundation is king
As I often say, a voice is only as strong as the foundation it has been built upon, so make sure you set up and build your foundation in the right manner, starting with your posture, diaphragmatic breathing, appoggio and resonance placement.
#5 – Support
If foundation is King, then support is the right hand man – supporting all the important work of the Kingdown. Learning how to support your voice properly starts with your posture, setup, and release of your registers rather than any physical supporting motion – I like to think of support as a downward movement rather than a push.
#6 – Vowels are key
Learning to EQ your resonance into each of your vowel sounds is an incredibly important part of learning how to sing higher notes. The shape of your tongue and the width of your vocal tract allow your resonance to appear in the form of our main vowel sounds. If you’re struggling and straining your high notes, then it’s likely you’re not shaping your vowels in the correct manner, for example, a wide vocal tract and concave tongue for an AH vowel, and a narrow tract with a raised back of the tongue creating an EE vowel. Learn the right vowel shapes and you’ll be resonating with ease into your high range.
#7 – Placement is power
Resonance placement is an important aspect of any powerful singing technique, and requires you to limit any excess and unnecessary frequencies which may not be resonating in the most efficient way. Placement has been an especially big part of building my own voice as a low baritone. Placing your resonance in the right way will allow you to sing higher notes with ease, while building your frequencies and strengthening your vocal chords and coordination.
A great way to learn placement is to practice an “NG” or “N” sound with a very light buzz high in your head. As you practice a scale through your range, take care to limit any frequencies or resonance that occur below your top teeth – in essence, placing your frequencies and resonance.
#8 – Stop singing so loud
By building the twang mechanism of narrowing the top of the glottis, you can amplify and build ‘cut’ into your voice without singing with excess volume. Often what we percieve as singing with ‘volume’ is simply unnecessary frequencies which would be drowned out in a live band situation anyway – learn to sing with moderate volume and the right frequencies for a powerful and cutting sound that requires little effort and affords dexterity in your range. No healthy singing technique requires sheer volume to give you a good tone, or more range – so make sure you’re not inadvertently singing with too much volume.
#9 – Take it with a grain of salt
Those tips you see on YouTube, that guru that says their course is “better than anyone else”, the local coach who says that rock singing will damage your voice, the amateur singer giving advice like “sing foward” – these are all opinions and subjective to the mechanism behind their use, where one person has a healthy foundation and ‘pulls down’ to get compression, another singer without the same foundation could truly damage their voice with the exact same motion. Make sure you are getting your information from a professional voice coach who can illustrate complicated concepts like middle voice and vowel tuning with practical and useful instructions, not marketing terms, buzz words of “buy my course to learn how!”.
I great example of this is the marketing term “Open Throat” which comes from the classical Opera term Bel Canto – which in essence translates to “open throat”, but really means to sing “without throat” – two very different intentions. The idea that out throats should be open when we sing has become a mass marketing term used by singing gurus to sell singing courses and make you feel like you’re MISSING something that only they can provide. The truth is;
- You CLOSE your vocal chords to sing
- You NARROW (ie: close) the vocal tract to tune your vowels
- You CLOSE the soft palate to sing vowel sounds
- Your tongue is often raised when you sing, CLOSING off your mouth (ie: for a pure EE, AY or OO vowel)
If we’re getting into semantics, singing actually requires you to CLOSE your throat in many different ways, so be wary of anyone selling you the concept of “Open Throat Singing”. Now, I’m not saying that Bel Canto technique isn’t correct, in fact, quite contrary – Bel Canto singing technique is the only singing technique that truly works to build your voice, but coaches and approaches that missappropriate these classical singing terms and turn them into marketing terms and buzz words without in-depth explanation really aren’t helping you sing better, so take it all with a grain of salt.
#10 – There’s more than one way
When I coach singing, I like to have two, three, even four different ways of coaching my students how to implement the same singing technique and coordinate their voices. If you’ve been struggling to implement a singing technique, or trying a certain approach and it’s simply not working for you – perhaps your direction isn’t wrong, but you’re simply taking the wrong road. A great example of this is vowel tuning, often called vowel modification – there are a number of effective ways to ascend in range and tune your resonance, from modifying the character of your vowel (vowel modification) to physically tuning your vocal tract width using your tongue root, vocal tract and soft palate (vowel tuning). If your singing teacher is trying to get you to do something that contiually fails to work, the problem isn’t your voice, it’s their coaching methods. There are so many different ways to troubleshoot your voice, and your singing technique really does need to be tailored to your unique range and voice type – everyone should have their own individual approach to singing that has been designed by a professional voice coach to help them with the unique challenges we all face with our individual and unique voices.
Using these 10 tips on how to sing higher notes, you can build a powerful voice that has an extensive high range and a beautiful tone no matter where in your range you are singing. Make sure you have developed these important techniques to build your high range:
- Register Release
- Posture and Appoggio singing technique
- Diaphragmatic breathing and breath support
- Vowel shaping
- Resonance tuning
- Middle voice coordination
- Twang and amplification
- Vocal placement
- Consonant groups
With these singing techniques, your voice will be confident, consistent and powerful every time you sing – without any guesswork!
Let me know if you have any questions or feedback below!
Kegan DeBoheme is Bohemian Vocal Studio’s resident vocal coach and voice expert. He teaches professional singing and voice technique to students all around the world and enjoys providing tutorials like this one on how to improve your voice.