So You Want to Sing Higher? 4 Things You Can Do to Increase Your Vocal Range
Almost everybody I’ve come across wants to sing higher, myself included.
Low voices want to sing higher. High voices want to sing even higher.
As if people need to be reminded of the benefits of singing higher! They may seem obvious but do you know exactly why it’s good to have a bigger vocal range?
Improving your high notes will make your low notes stronger
High notes need more finesse to sing. You need better breath management, stronger ligaments & muscles, better adjustments of vocal folds and more energy overall.
Think of singing low notes as walking, medium notes as jogging and high notes as sprinting. If you can sprint well, you can probably walk a lot better as well.
So, if you are good at singing high notes, your lower and middle registers will sound more resonant. You will feel that singing the lower notes is easier than before.
Singing high notes has a stronger cathartic effect
Apart from impressing your audience, singing high notes also helps you to express your emotions in a more intense way. This is why the chorus of a song usually has the most high notes in it.
Adding variety and energy to your performance
High notes make your song sound more interesting when contrasted with lower notes in other sections. Genres such as rock and musical theatre use high notes frequently to energize songs.
How to Increase Your Range
When done correctly, singing high notes feels and sounds good.
Singing high notes well goes hand in hand with increasing your vocal range. When your range increases, you can sing your high notes better. When you can sing your high notes better, your range will also increase.
Singing high notes is harder than low notes because there is increased demand on breath management, vocal folds activity, laryngeal muscle movements and the anchoring of the voice.
When you get better at the foundational vocal technique, your range will increase on its own. Just like when you get better at weightlifting technique, you’ll be able to lift heavier weights over time.
However, there are specific things you can do to increase your vocal range.
1. Ng Sirening
Siren up and down your range using the NG sound (as in “sing”). Start from a low note up to the middle of your range. When you’re out of breath, start from the same low note and go higher.
Repeat this until you go up to as high as you can (in a light voice). The higher you go, the more relaxed you want to be. Imagine the sound is coming out the top of your head.
This helps to stretch the larynx up higher so that you can sing higher over time.
2. Falsetto & Head Voice
Develop your falsetto. It’s that light, airy/breathy voice that you get into when singing the super high notes. Sam Smith and Billie Eilish like to use falsetto when they’re singing.
When you’re singing in falsetto, your vocal folds are stretched thin and only the edges are vibrating.
Head voice quality is when you’re singing notes in your upper register and it sounds full and resonant. It has projection than falsetto quality. Head voice quality is a mixture of chest voice quality and falsetto. So, when you get better at singing in head voice quality, your range will increase.
3. Widen vocal tract & stabilize larynx
The part of your vocal tract that’s called the aryepiglottic sphincter needs to be widened when you’re singing from middle register onwards. You’ll get more resonating space in your throat. Your vocal folds will be able to vibrate more freely. By stabilizing your larynx at the same time, the high notes will feel easier to sing.
The ‘surprise’ exercise that I laid out in my ebook helps you to do that.
When singing high notes, a lot of people tend to ‘reach up’ to the high notes. What happens when you do this is you’ll raise your larynx too high - squashing your resonating space.
‘Think down’ instead. Imagine you’re already on top of the high note. All you have to do is to reach down/fall down to sing it.
Doing the four things above will help you increase your range. However, mastering your foundational vocal technique is still the best way to increase your vocal range permanently. So, keep working on your basics!
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