One of the most common frustrations I hear from singers is that they have trouble singing high notes.
Do you relate? If you are a singer who wants help expanding your range so you can learn to sing high notes with ease, read on.
Range is a tricky thing. To some degree, our voices are physiologically built for a certain range. Longer, thicker vocal chords constitute a lower voice. The shorter and thinner your chords are, the higher your range is. However, within the boundaries of your physiology, I believe that any singer can begin to increase their range and access higher notes with more ease by experimenting with a few simple tools.
Here are two ideas to help you increase your range for singing:
1. Access Your Siren
Give yourself the freedom to explore your range outside of the pressure of singing. See what it feels like to “siren” around freely like an ambulance at the top of your range. Ladies, use your head voice for this. Gentlemen, stay in the higher part of your chest resonance, don’t flip into falsetto. Don’t think too much about the sound you’re making. Instead, use the freedom of the siren to play around with phonating in the higher register of your voice and notice how much easier it is to vibrate up there when you think “siren” then when you think “sing”. With a siren, most singers don’t have any attachment to the sound needing to be good, so they let go of trying to manipulate and control the sound which, in turn, frees it and improves it. It’s our manipulation and control of the sound that generally gets in the way of those high notes coming out as desired. So the next time you have a high note or phrase, don’t sing it, “siren” it with the mindset and energy you found in the siren exercise.
2. Get Into Your Knees
When the pitch of a melody rises, singers often unconsciously push their entire mechanism of support and all the muscular energy of their body inwards and upwards in an effort to reach the higher pitch. This creates an enormous amount of tension in the neck and around the larynx which actually sabotages the success of the high note rather then helping it. One technique I’ve developed to combat this is aimed at getting singers back to directing energy into the lower part of their body so they can stay grounded as the pitch rises. Stand with your feet hips’ distance apart and begin to sing. As you approach the high note, drop down into your knees like you are doing a plié. This redirects tension away from the larynx keeping it free so the high note can vibrate as it was meant to. Getting into your knees also tends to help reengage the lower support. Practice dropping into your knees every time you have high notes and eventually your body will trust that it doesn’t need to push inwards and upwards for each rise in pitch. Once you’ve established that trust, then you’ll be able to have consistent high notes without actually having to bend your knees anymore.