One of my missions in life is to empower singers to sing as long as life allows them without causing damage to their instrument. There are so many amazing artists with such beautiful instruments who rely on vocal operations to fix any damage what has now become accepted as 'part and parcel of being a singer'. We are inspired by the music, lyrics, people, stories and experiences that we connect with in so many ways and it's hard for singers to freely express words and songs without the technique to support us.
For many, the top notes are a bit of a hit and miss and it's very rare to find singers who can consistently produce great top notes for years on end during live performances. The voice is an instrument and really, unfortunately, there are no shortcuts to creating and nurturing a beautiful voice so here’s my Top 5 to help you achieve one of the most common challenges for singers.
Before I share my top five tips, it’s important that I briefly explain how your instrument works.
How do your vocal cords work?
Basically, if you imagine two strands of rubber bands alongside each other, they absorb breath, vibrate and create sound. So when you are speaking, your vocal cords are absorbing breath and vibrate to create sound.
Everybody has their own sound. Our individual vocal sound can depend on the size and thickness of your vocal cords along with the shape of your solid facial structures which all contribute to the unique sound of our voice.
What would you normally do to reach a high note?
"Take a Big Breath Go for it”
“Close my Eyes and hope for a Good Singing Day”
“Imagine I’m at the Top of the Mountain and Project”
All the above will only last as long as your vocal cords can handle. If you have thick vocal cords and you have a naturally high voice, then you can get away with it for a few years. Eventually, however, your voice will become tired and you'll notice your high notes start to get harder and harder to reach.
What's the most effective and sustainable way to sing louder?
Just like a muscle, your vocal cords need to build strength to withstand breath pressure as you increase volume*.
Need a translation? When you lift weights at the gym to build muscle strength...(I don't go to the gym, so I'm guessing these weights) you would start at the lower weights, say 10kgs, then 11kgs, 12kgs, 13kgs etc. To do this, you require good technique to avoid straining or injuring a muscle and allow time for muscles to develop strength correctly before you can increase to the next weight level.
So, just like a muscle, the only safe way to train your vocal cords to produce loud sounds safely, is by 'building' vocal muscle strength. Bearing that in mind, here are my Top 5 Tips for Building Muscle Strength allowing you to Sing Louder in your Higher Register:
You need to start with the Foundation that is critical to any singer. Diaphragm Breathing gives you More Breath to work with, Diaphragmatic Support, Better Tone, Control and overall ease of Developing your Instrument. If you can't diaphragm breathe, you can't sing.
2. Light is Right.
Always start your singing Lightly. Your vocal cords will automatically work how it should when you sing lightly without force. Sing your Song Softly First, then use this as a Guide for which register you should be in when singing your songs. If you can't sing it lightly correctly, then you can't sing it loud yet.. (remember, 1kilo at a time)
Descending Scales encourages the correct application of voice and breath whilst helping ironing out the ‘gaps’ from Head, Middle into Chest Voice. Use octaves descending or gradual descend from top note octave by singing 876/765/654 etc down to 1
4. Be a Mosquito.
We're going to mimic this sound by doing crescendo and decrescendo on the one note by singing Fee, Noh or Hood. Start with the lower part of your head voice range (A above Middle C) then slowly ascend the scale once you feel you’re getting the hang of it.
Using 6 counts, try and a achieve an even tone, without losing or using more breath as you increase and decrease volume. If you run out of breath or voice before you finish, then you need to be more gradual with the volume (don’t go too loud) and use minimal and even breath.
Ensuring your voice is warm, stretch your head voice with exercises that are higher than your normal range. Exercises that stretch over your 'comfortable range' starts to stretch them and allowing your usual high notes a lot easier. Make sure your voice is warm, you are supporting with the diaphragm and you are in full head voice. Remember, your throat, jaw and breath must be relaxed and free with no tension.
And that’s It! I hope you enjoy our latest Vocal Tip and you continue to build your skills.
Inspire, Empower and Believe!
"We help you Unlock the Power of Music so it becomes a Grounding Force Through Life" Phinemm Nelson Founder and Principal
Vocalise Music Academy has been helping students develop their vocal, music and performance skills for over 16 years. To find out more about our Academy, visit our website at www.vocaliseacademy.com.au