How to find head voice
You’ve been building a powerful chest voice and booming away to all your favourite low songs – but what about your high range… how do you find head voice? By “zipping” up your vocal chords and shortening the length of your vocal chords, you’ll easily access head voice – and better yet, you’ll learn how to strengthen your head register so that it actually CONNECTS with your low range as you ascend, aka no more vocal break!
Finding your head voice is often as easy as singing ‘light’ and ‘high’ – even if you THINK you’re singing in falsetto, which involves improper closure of your vocal chords, you may very well be singing in a light head coordination, which will only GROW and BUILD if you exercise and strengthen it.
A great way to find your head voice is to RELEASE your registers as the very first thing you practice each day. Most singers have been taught to sing a lip trill at some point, without really being told anything more than ‘it will help your voice’ – when the INTENT of the exercise is actually the most important part. The whole purpose of a lip trill is to a) Release our vocal registers and b) Moderate your airflow. So, make sure that THESE are your focus when you sing a lip trill.
You can think of register release as a ‘see-saw’ (or teeter-totter for you Americans!), where your voice TIPS over from chest all the way into head voice without pulling and pushing. Sure, it’s not a useable, or even nice sound – but the purpose is actually to build that centre BALANCE which no doubt is very weak and breathing in your singing tone currently.
The centre part of that “see-saw” motion is actually called your MIX or your MIDDLE voice. Learning how to release from chest voice into your middle register is the difference between YELLING, and actually singing properly. Your middle register sits in the direct centre of your chest voice and head voice, and developing your mix is the only way to learn how to connect chest voice and head voice.
Middle Voice is employed by EVERY great singer, from Adele through to James Brown, even the greatest and heaviest of rock singers like Chris Cornell and James Hetfield use their mix voice to some degree (or alot!). Building your middle register, the ‘centre’ balancing point on that see-saw we just talked about is how you will be able to sing higher chest voice notes with the EASE of head voice.
How to develop your mix voice
Learning how to develop your mix voice is an important skill and takes patience and finesse – the most efficient way to access your mix is to transition into your middle register around your first break, either by way of my PROJECTION method, or the “Classroom Voice” approach which is also very effective.
How to project when singing – I’m not talking about projecting AWAY from yourself when you sing, I’m talking about projecting from a distant point TOWARDS yourself. This is a fantastic way to unleash your middle register, and is one of my favourite visual tools that I have developed to help show my students how to develop mix voice. If you (figuratively) imagine that the VERY point of your first vocal break is being played out of a speaker far away in the corner of the room, often times you’ll find that your voice “releases” from full chest coordination into your mix register, full and rich like your chest, but smooth and released like your head. Here’s a super simple tutorial for accessing your mix:
How to sing in CLASSROOM voice – Infinitely less cool than projection, singing in ‘classroom voice’ is another great way to access your mix register and release from your chest, while keeping the richness of tone and powerful delivery. The idea of classroom voice is that you release into the tone of a ‘teacher’ around your first vocal break, something like “Okay kids, look over here!” – without putting on a childish voice, simply an assertive, but pleasant tone. The more you practice this, the higher you’ll realise you can go with this tone and soon enough, it will connect with BOTH your chest voice vs head voice and you’ll have one long NOTE that you can sing with rather than separate registers.
Projection singing is my favourite method for teaching my students how to initially access their mix voice if they haven’t done so before. Beyond this point it’s up to you to tune your vowels correctly, use twang in an effective manner and make sure you’re not pulling up chest voice or flipping fully into head voice as you ascend. The more you sing in this range with this tone, the GREATER area your “mix” voice will occupy in your singing range, and the more power and versatility you will have in your singing voice.
Breath support for singing
Breath support starts with your foundation, so make sure you’ve signed up for my free foundations short courses that will show you how to set up proper singing posture, engage your diaphragm and most importantly – how to sing with resonance. Breath support is less about your ‘breath’ as it is about your air pressure – learning how to moderate your air flow and air pressure is a super important skill that really goes hand in hand with your foundation. First up, lets get your posture in order:
- Head up
- Shoulders back
- Chin parallel with the floor
- Ribs out
Learning to sing with your ribs out, known as APPOGGIO singing technique in classical singing, is a key part of both your posture and your breath support. Without a wide rib position, you won’t be in control of your breathing and air pressure, and the second you hit a difficult or high note, your ribs will contract and blow out all your air – risking the health of your vocal chords and obviously torching the note you’re trying to sing.
Don’t push… Pull!
That’s right, when you’ve set up proper singing posture and you’re engaging the diaphragm with a wide rib position built into your foundation, all you need to do is pull DOWN as you ascend in range to get a touch of compression out of your air pressure, leading to easier high notes and better control of your vocal registers. Without proper breath support, you can’t sing in mix voice, and you definitely won’t be able to hit high notes with ease.
Learning how to find head voice starts with your foundation and leads into learning how to sing in mix voice, along with controlling your vocal registers properly and of course learning how to support your voice with breath support instead of ‘pushing’.
If you’re ready to power up your singing voice and take your vocals to the next level, you can book a session with me today and I’ll show you how it’s done!
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.