Tips For Singing Higher Notes
Despite having practiced singing higher tones and improving your range to reach higher notes, chances are there will be times when you can’t fully sustain them. Or you will find a song composed of lots of high notes (rather than say hitting one high note and coming down) that will tire your voice out quickly.
This is natural, especially for beginning singers and the issue is not to do with your range but with your tessitura! My what??
Your tessitura is your comfortable vocal range and refers to your ability to sing all the notes in a music piece on pitch with consistency and without straining your voice out. Tessitura can also refer to the regular pitch range of a piece.
For instance, if you’re a mezzo-soprano you may be able to reach a high C occasionally at the very top of your range but your tessitura may be half an octave or so lower than that. Probably an octave up from around A above middle C. That’s why when you try to sing a song with tessitura of high G to high C, you end up with strain and fatigue in your voice. Knowing your own tessitura can really help you to select or write songs that are within your vocal range.
While you could be singing higher than your tessitura range you risk subjecting your voice to extreme fatigue and strain. Perhaps you’re wondering if you can raise your tessitura. Indeed you can but it will take a lot of practice and getting used to.
The secret lies in proper breathing support and upper resonance. You’ll end up straining your voice or even cause permanent damage to your vocal chords if you try to sing higher tones using your throat only without the proper breath support
In singing songs with higher notes, it requires more breath than lower notes, so it’s imperative to use your diaphragm, abdominal and spine muscles in breathing. When you inhale, you have to expand your midsection fully. When exhaling, you need to keep all the rest expanded except your abdomen which will facilitate the outflow of your breath.
If you’ve mastered the breathing process, it’s time you pay attention to your upper resonance area known as your head voice, by imagining that the sound of your voice is coming from in your forehead and above your head. You can imagine it as being in an elevator going up and using your breath to push it there. Taking singing lessons is really a good idea to be sure you’ll practice in the right way.
Try to feel the vibrations in your soft palate, particularly your sinuses. One teacher says imagine swallowing something you don’t like, and that will cause your throat to open wide enough so that the unpleasant thing will not touch on the inside!
It is important to maintain a light tone by doing simple exercises to increase your range and not trying to force things at all. You can start off with the yawn-slide technique where you begin by opening your mouth to resemble a yawn, then exhaling on syllables like “hee” and “hoo” from the highest note then going down your range quickly to the bottom. You can then try beginning each “yawn” at a slightly higher note.
Another effective exercise is the vocal siren. It’s the opposite of the yawn-slide technique since you start from the lowest note going to the highest note in your range. Use a humming sound. As you find your breathing getting stronger then gradually start doing it up and down a few times on the same breath. One of the most effective exercises many singers use is the five-tone-scale sung rapidly up and down.
You start in your middle range singing the pattern do-re-mi-fa-so-fa-mi-re-do. You can use a vowel like “000″ or “ahh” or try a buzz (also known as bubble lips or lip roll). Be sure you use proper breath support as you continue doing the exercise with the succeeding patterns a half-step higher than the previous.
To raise your tessitura and sing higher notes more easily it will take some practice, proper breathing exercises, and the patience to continue. See also this post about the basics of singing exercises. Remember to be persistent and realistic. Success doesn’t happen overnight and it will take time to master the techniques to singing higher.