Sing high notes without straining
Learning to sing high notes without straining is one of the most powerful keys to building a killer singing voice. Singing without strain is the mark of a great singer and allow you to sing ANYTHING that you could ever imagine, as powerfully as you like.
Vocal cord strain is a killer for the health of your voice – without a strain free singing voice, you will wear out your voice with the constant struggling and leave you at risk of permanent damage. Now that the scary part is over, lets talk about the three main types of vocal strain, and the reasons why you’re pushing and yelling in your high range.
#1 The Digastric Muscle
The digastric muscle is a pesky little sucker that sits behind your chin, directly underneath your tongue. It pulls the larynx out of the way when you drink water or eat foot – but it has absolutely ZERO to do with singing. So, if you’re engaging the digastric muscle while you sing, you’ll be straining from the throat no matter HOW good your technique is – you can learn how to disengage the digastric muscle and release vocal strain.
A fantastic way to release the digastric muscle is to practice singing with the flat part of your thumb pushed up gently into the muscle underneath your chin – the more you do this, the more you’ll train your voice to sing without connection or engagement of this pesky little nuisanse.
#2 Improper vowel production
That’s right, there is a “right way” and a “wrong way” to create your vowel sounds. Namely, using your tongue to articule your vowel sound rather than ‘pronouncing’ being the correct manner to create your vowels:
- AH – Tongue low and concave
- AA – Similar, but with the middle of your tongue forward
- EE – Tongue “up” at the back, down at the front
- AY/EH – similar, but with the middle of your tongue forward and your mouth more open
- OO – there’s actually two different ways to do this one!
Improper vowel articulation allows a misuse of frequencies and requires a ‘push’ and ‘strain’ as you sing higher to force out your vowel sounds – ie: this is a big one to watch out for! Singing the right vowel sounds in the right way will actually take you further in your singing than any other singular singing technique, so learn to articulate your vowels correctly.
#3 Incorrect management of your registers
Did you know that there is actually THREE different vocal registers that you need to develop – not just “Chest voice” and “Head Voice”? The mystery third register is often called MIDDLE or MIX voice, and is a vocal chord coordination that sits in the direct center between your two main registers of head and chest. Learning to build your middle voice is absolutely key to singing without pushing, and learning to sing high notes without straining.
I like to think of chest voice as full length vocal chords, head voice as fully ZIPPED vocal chords, and then your middle voice, or mix, as anything centered in between the two – leaving you with a free and powerful ‘middle’ tone that can be used both in your high range and well into your low range without losing integrity of tone, or power of resonance.
Two fantastic ways to develop and discover your middle voice are projection, and what I like to call “classroom voice”. Projection is somewhat of a misleading term, in that we’re not ‘projecting’ our voice further, you should instead imagine that your voice is being projected BACK to you from another point, such as the corner of the room. Here’s a super easy tutorial on developing projection to build your middle voice:
I’m sure you’re starting to recognise some of these topics/issues in your own singing voice. Let me know in the comments below which one of these you’ve been struggling with, and how my visualisation techniques have helped to relieve your vocal strain!
Another reason for vocal strain is an incorrect foundation, or improperly built foundation that is! Your foundation is incredibly important for your voice, and involves not only your breathing, but also your posture, support and ability to create resonance. To set up your foundation, first you need to get your posture in order:
- Head up
- Shoulders back
- Chin parallel with the floor
- Sternum up (so your ribs widen)
Now that you’ve set up your posture, you need to learn how to engage your diaphragm properly and support your voice. I suggest checking out my free foundations short course first, and then you can book a Skype session with me and I’ll show you how to juice up the power so you can resonate like crazy!
If you’re ready to take your voice to the next level, you can book a session with me today and I’ll SHOW you how to relieve strain and power up your resonance!
Feel free to leave any feedback or questions 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.