How To Sing High Notes – 10 Tips!
- Support is King. But how can we really feel what abdominal support / “diaphragmatic” support really feels like?
- Try an experiment: Lie on the floor in a “sit-up” position. Feel the breath come from your stomach. You will notice when you inhale, your belly will expand and when you exhale, the stomach will contract. Now let’s go one step further. Take in a breath from the stomach and do a simple major scale while doing a sit-up.
- At the top of the sit up, will be the top note of the scale. Continue the scale as you come back down from the sit-up. This feeling will approximate what a strong abdominal breath feels like. There is an important factor to this. When doing this, especially if you are not used to it, the abdominal muscles can “lock-up” keeping the stomach in a tense position. But what we want is a relaxed response. So take your time. You are building new muscle structures.
- Do not think of the “high note” as being high. The key to singing high notes (once diaphragmatic support is established) this to concentrate first time support then on vowel placement. Each vowel has a specific resting place in the throat. A “pocket” so to speak. It is important to find these pockets with the least amount of pressure or strain. You will find that once you experience what I like to refer to as the amphitheaters in the back of your throat that it’s not about a note value at all. It’s about support and placement.
- Do not look up when ascending scale or a passage. This is a mistake many singers make. There is a tendency as we go up for a note to look up because it seems natural however, what you are doing is constricting air in the throat, pinching and squeezing and making it more difficult for the relaxation response necessary to hit those notes easily and consistently.
- When practicing the song that has a “high note” in it, practice it first in falsetto to get the feeling of the ease in the throat. Then little by little start at more and more weight (volume) to the sound, but only do this as it is comfortable in the throat with strong support. Believe it or not often times cracking is normal as your building muscle memory stamina and strength. Don’t be discouraged by this. When this happens shake it off come back to the first two principles that I mentioned and try it again gently and safely. You will find that you were actually building strength to sustain a high note.
- Do not push off with your toes or raise your shoulders when ascending a passage or scale or when singing a “high note.” Again much like looking up people have a tendency to do this because they think that standing on their toes are raising their shoulders Will give them that little edge to hit the note. This is the exact opposite response we want. We want to concentrate on strengthen the abdomen, relaxing the chest and neck and the throat and preparing the throat for the proper vowel modification to sustain the note.
- When first learning a song that has a high note in it, don’t think you’re going to be able to walk up and sustain a long whole tone if you’ve never been able to do it before. The best way to achieve this is to work up scales to hit that “high” note (and beyond) with quicker stabs to just touch the note or I like to use the term “kiss” the note and come back down. This will start to build muscle memory and strength in the throat to be able to sustain and eventually hold it longer and longer as desired.
- Record yourself and listen back to the tonal quality and the freedom in the sound when practicing. This will help you to be able to reduplicate the magic moments when everything lines up and you’re able to hit the high notes. You will be able to listen back to the way it sounds in your throat and help you build consistency in your confidence.
- When practicing a high note, don’t beat yourself up if you can’t get it right away. This will freak you out psychologically and increase tension and anxiety for that note. Instead pitch a song down far enough where you can sing that note over and over again to give you confidence in your ability and in hitting the note itself. Little by little you can increase the pitch a quarter tone at a time until you can build up strength for the high note in its original key.
- Once you’re pretty far along and you feel like you get the note a few times practice without any consonants in the whole passage you’re singing. This will help eliminate stricture in the throat and give you nice round open throat vowels to launch into the high note.
- Now that you’re getting the hang of it and can relax into the note instead of stressing into the note it’s time to practice in front of people. Don’t go straight to your big important performance without trying it on others a few times first. Even the biggest bands in the world practice their sets on smaller audiences before taking it on the road. So it is with our performances. We can have a more relaxed response when we are met with anxiety and tension from our “big day” if we take this advice.
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