6 Tips On How To Sing Higher Notes
Today is going to be fun.
Do you know WHY it's going to be fun?
It's going to be fun because I'm going to show you how to sing a higher note - actually, how to sing a LOT of higher notes!
There's many facets to being a good singer, from tone, to style, to consistency - but when it comes down to it, we all want to learn how to sing higher notes, right? In most cases, our favourite singers are our favourites because they're capable of singing high notes in a way that seems impossible for mere mortals like you and I - but there's 6 things your favourite singers are doing when they are singing higher notes that if you apply in your own singing today, I guarantee that with some practice you will absolutely be able to sing higher notes with ease!
How To Sing A High Note
Are you excited to sing higher notes with ease? I know I'm excited to help you get there, so lets get started with 6 Tips for Singing Higher Notes!
Open the Vowel
Have you noticed that your favourite singers seem to sing their high notes a little strange? They sound fantastic and all, but the way they sing their higher notes just sounds 'different' to their speaking range?
This is because they're "Opening The Vowel" - and what this really means is that the speech formant of the vowel has changed into a secondary overtone as they raise the soft palate and allow their voice to form a Pharyngeal Vowel - basically, a vowel that sits in the back of the head in the space where the soft palate raises into the pharynx rather than a speechy "mouth vowel".
Try it in your mid range going up a major scale on a sustained Laaaaaaaaah (for guys say from a G3 up the major scale to the D4, and girls around an octave up). You'll notice that if you're just singing the AH sound like the word "hard", that something needs to switch and change up like a gear needing to shift as your revs get to high - this is the point where you need to do three simple things;
- Lower the jaw
- Allow the resonant character of the vowel to take over (in this case, AW instead of AH)
- Raise the soft palate
Now try it again with this in mind - the AH vowel shifts into a subtle AW like a slack-jacked Hawed instead of Hard.
This makes it much easier to ascend with ease, and without constriction right?
I told you today was going to be fun - you're now well on your way to singing higher notes with ease.
This subtle change in the vowel is sometimes called Vowel Modification - and it's a key aspect of the Foundation and Growth 101 singing courses here at Bohemian Vocal Studio.
2. Place Your Resonance
Placing your voice "in the masque" is the best way to release any tension from your throat, especially as you're starting to sing higher notes.
Placement ultimately refers to the bright "singer's formant" that occurs when you resonate within the bones of the face instead of trying to make sound in the softer parts of your vocal tract.
This one is super easy, so easy that I'll show you exactly how to place your voice right now in this simple but effective lesson:
You'll notice that it's much easier to sing, and also that your voice is a lot more powerful and effortless when you're singing with this bright, forward sound - but just remember, forward placement is a bright and pleasant sound, not an ugly nasal sound; if you're just getting nasality, then it's likely you're a little imbalanced within your vowel, or perhaps you're singing with the velar-port open to airflow through the nose.
Need some help with placement? Book a session with me using the button below:
Book a Skype Session with Kegan
Master vocal placement and Open Vowels
3. Don't Look Up or "Lift Off" when you sing higher notes
I'm dead serious - this is one of the most common, but simplest issues you'll find as a singer trying to sing high notes; looking towards the sky when you sing those high notes has a detrimental effect on your voice in many ways, from effecting your posture, effecting the path of your resonance and ultimately making you 'reach' for high notes instead of singing a well supported and relaxed resonant tone.
You might also find other little ticks in your singing technique when you're going for those high notes - like 'lifting off' with your feet, or clenching your fists, or locking your jaw.
Remember, great singing is controlled, relaxed and resonant - you don't need to clench, clamp or grunt when you sing high notes.
4. Perfect Practice
You know the old adage "practice makes perfect" right? Well, when it comes to singing, it's really "PERFECT practice makes perfect".
If you spend an hour yelling an A4 - you're obviously still going to suck at singing high notes after your practice session, and you're not doing your vocal health any favours either.
The idea that you need to just "support" and "lean into" the high note when you're learning is ultimately flawed - my students are always surprised at just how light, bright, gentle and resonant I get them to practice an exercise; only to notice their high notes appear quickly and with ease.
Ultimately, your voice is like a house being built - you can't just plonk a roof on the ground and then try to lift it over your head when it rains; you need to build that concrete foundation first and develop your 'vocal house' brick by brick until it's time to sing those high notes.
Practice "perfectly" without strain and tension, without cracking and breaking - and with some patience, time and practice you will be singing high notes with ease.
5. Support Your Voice
A better way to phrase "diaphragmatic support" is really "rely on your breathing" - when you sing a high note, make sure you're engaging the mid section while also allowing a slow but steady stream of air to vibrate your folds; almost like a leaky tyre - pressurised but slow.
You can even practice this motion by laying on the floor and doing a sit-up as you ascend along a scale or sing a phrase with a high note at the end. When you get to the high note, perform the sit-up and notice just how easily that high note flows out.
Now, most people will look at this simple exercise and think "Eureka - the key is to clench my abs!" - but the real reason this simple exercise illustrates diaphragmatic support so well is because of the way you engage your diaphragm any time you need a strong core; so really, diaphragmatic support is simply creating a solid but flexible mid section that allows a small amount of highly pressurised air to pass the vocal folds.
6. Practice Without Words or Consonants
When you feel you're really starting to nail the first five points on this list, you can start practicing vocal phrases in a stronger, fuller voice - but start out by doing so without any consonant sounds or really and 'words' other than your base vowel sounds;
This will really help you get a grip on the idea that "words" don't really exist in singing - and it's all about the pure vowel sounds.
What Do These 6 Tips Have In Common?
If you've been following my lessons here for a while, or you're subscribed to the BVS YouTube Channel - you've probably noticed from my teachings that these 6 simple but powerful vocal tips actually have one important thing in common;
The Four Vocal Fundamentals
- Height In The Vocal Tract
- Forward Placement
- "All In One Flow"
- Mixed Tonality
That's right, each of these 6 steps relates directly to each of the Four Vocal Fundamentals - diaphragmatic support is an extension of singing "All In One Flow", open vowels are a product of Height In The Vocal Tract and building strength and dexterity through the mid section of your voice with care, practice and perseverance results in Mixed Tonality.
In fact, you can boil down just about ANY vocal issue, singing technique, concept, term or trick into one of these four fundamentals.
If you're ready to sing higher notes with ease, then you're ready to master The Four Vocal Fundamentals.