I Help people sing and speak expressively and powerfully no matter the level of experience :)
HI, I'M JORGELINA
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How to reach high notes in singing is probably the most common question beginner or even experienced singers ask when they come to my lessons.
When I’m teaching a lesson and practicing scales with my students, I can see how they start becoming anxious and stare at the notes that I play on my keyboard.
Well, that’s the first problem! You are probably used to the expression “It’s all in your mind,” and in this case, it also applies. When you believe that the notes are too high for you, that’s what your mind is telling you. And guess what. Your mind is what controls all of your movements, and therefore it controls how your voice works as well. So if that’s what you are telling to your mind, that’s what your mind is going to tell your body to do. It is saying: “Hey stop, you can’t reach that note.” And then the body reacts to that, and you can notice how your throat closes.
So that’s the first thing, when you are practicing your scales or when you are practicing your song, sing each note as it goes. Don’t spend the whole time thinking about the difficult notes, but instead be present in each sound. That’s how you will enjoy your singing. Otherwise, it would feel more like torture!
Another thing that I have noticed in many of my students is that they start to lift the upper body when they start singing higher notes. That is first of all…useless. Not only doesn’t it help you reach the notes you want, it actually does the opposite and affects your whole singing. This is because once you imagine that your high notes are actually “high” you start tensing your upper body to be able to “reach” them. As a result, your shoulders and neck are tense, and there is where your voice is produced. It also prevents you from having a relaxed and deep breath. So, we don’t want this to happen!
Those are the main two problems which prevent you from singing your high notes freely. Then, of course, you still have to train your upper register properly. But really, the first step is to allow the body to be aware of that.
This is something you really need to take into consideration when trying to reach high notes. Ideally your breathing should be relaxed and directed to the lower part of your lungs, not the upper part as this can cause tension to your neck and shoulders which makes it more difficult to reach those high notes you want.
Check that your posture is correct!
Pay attention to your facial muscles. It is much easier to reach high notes when your jaw is not tensely shut. You can help this process by massaging the muscles that are across the jawline. Also, gently massage the facial muscles in your forehead, cheeks, chin and around your lips.
Imitate the sound of the police siren. That’s a good way to imagine the glissandos, very powerful exercises for your voice that really work all the body parts involved on your vocal flexibility! Use “ooh” for this exercise, and try to go as high as you can and come back (just as sirens do)and as you do that, check that your mouth is really open, your tongue is touching your low teeth and your neck and shoulders are relaxed. Try to keep your sound light and easy as much as possible as you go up and down.
I recommend doing this exercise along with some body movements such as stretching your arms up (as if you were climbing) or simply bending your knees as you go high. Listen to what your body needs!
This exercise will train the flexibility of your voice in a softer way so you won’t damage it while practicing it. Use a humming sound for this exercise, with your lips gently together but not pressing and checking that your teeth are apart from each other. Start with a pitch comfortable for you and then start going higher little by little, checking that your upper back keeps being relaxed.
Make sure that whenever you are practicing your singing exercises you don’t go past your comfortable range. It will expand little by little while you develop your technique, but trying to force it is not only useless: it also makes your progress go back because you are damaging your voice and stressing your system when you force your voice.
Image by Kathleen Tyler Conklin
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