How To Sing High Notes Without Strain

As singers, we all love to sing those high notes. I don’t think there is a much better feeling than nailing a high note in a performance and having the audience cheering and clapping.

In this article, I want to explore the 3 tips that singers can use to help them when learning how to sing high notes, or when they attempt to sing a song with high notes in it that maybe at the top of their range.

Before we get into the article I want to show you a video of Mariah Carey singing All I Want For Christmas in order to demonstrate some of the biggest mistakes you can make when trying to learn how to sing high notes. Note the cracking and breaking of the voice along with some of the weaker tones up top.

Why Is Learning How To Sing High Notes So Hard?

This is a great question, and one I think most singers would like to know the answer to!

The answer lies in the fact that in order to learn how to sing high notes, a singer must learn how to coordinate their voice with minimum interference so the note is being produced in the correct resonating chamber.

But more on this later. Let’s explore the 3 tips to learning how to sing high notes

Tip #1 – Stop Singing From The Throat

How to sing high notes - image 1A common mistake a singer can make when learning how to sing high notes is to sing from their throat, or to sing using their throat or swallowing muscles.

The swallowing muscles are used to close the epiglottis so food doesn’t go down our windpipe while eating.

The swallowing muscles can also close the vocal cords so we can make sound, and are fine for short bursts of sound e.g. talking, but they were not designed for singing, as they don’t achieve a consistent enough hold for singing.

One sure sign a singer is using their swallowing muscles to sing is that they have a high larynx. If a singer sings from the throat long enough, then vocal damage such as nodules etc, could be the result.

So what’s the answer? To combat mistake #1, a singer must learn to sing using the correct muscles, which are the abdominal muscles in concert with the diaphragm. This is called support, and you can read another article I wrote about how to improve your voice using support by clicking on the link.

Support will enable a singer to sing without any interference, by freeing the larynx to close the vocal cords consistently and allowing the note to be produced in the correct resonating chambers – which brings us to mistake #2.

Tip #2 – Let Resonance Do The Hard Work

How to sing high notes - mistake 2The secret to awesome high notes, is to let resonance do all the hard work for you.

Basically – a note or pitch gets created by the vocal cords coming together and stretching the correct amount.

The higher the note, the tighter the stretch and the lower the note, well you get the picture.

Once a pitch is created, the next thing that needs to happen is the pitch needs to be “reinforced” in the correct resonance chamber.

For higher notes, the correct chamber is the nasopharynx which are up around the nasal cavities, which is why some people call high notes the “head voice”.

Reinforcing a pitch means that the fundamental frequency of the pitch e.g. A 440 (440hz), is made louder than any of the overtones that are also created along with the note. This results in a full note with a definite “ring” to it, that make audiences cheer and clap.

So, when a singer “drives” their voice, it means that they are generally singing from their throat, which then causes them to take up the notes that resonate at lower frequencies into the middle and upper parts of their voice as they try to sing higher.

At this point, the wrong resonating chamber is being used and the note can sound weak, strained or muffled.

How do we let resonance do the heavy lifting? The answer is stop singing from your throat and to keep the resonance chambers open all the time and this will help you learn how to sing high notes effortlessly.

For more information on how to improve singing power and tone, please click on the link.

Let’s now turn our attention to mistake #3.

Tip #3 – Get Out of The Way

How to sing high notes - mistake 3

Once you are supporting correctly and keeping your resonance chambers open, there is nothing else you have to do other than to work on your performance. If you are singing with correct technique, then the high notes should be there and you shouldn’t need to strain to hit them.

You may have heard singing teachers, or other singers tell you that you will sing high notes easier if you learn how to “place” the voice or other nonsense.

I have never understood this, and I have never learned how to place anything anywhere when it comes to learning how to sing high notes.

When a singer tries to do this, it generally leads to some kind of interference that will get in the way and make things worse, not better.

I think this is an attempt to try an explain resonance by trying to get the voice up into the nasal cavities to by imagination rather than by supporting properly and keeping all the resonating chambers open, so they are ready to reinforce the right notes when they come along.

What Next?

So, now you know the three tips on learning how to sing high notes without strain.

If you would like to know more about support, resonance and much, much more in learning how to sing better, please click on the link.

I wish you success in all your singing endeavors……

Andy Barnes

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  • P D Jose

    Reply Reply September 22, 2016

    Sir, thank u for the service you are rendering to the singers. I am aged 57 and also Asthmatic. Kindly provide me yr valuable suggestions for singing high notes with ease. Thanx.

    • Andy Barnes

      Reply Reply November 4, 2016

      The only way to sing high notes with ease is to support properly so that there is no interference from the swallowing muscles. It does take a while to get learn this and undo any bad habits that you can pick up from singing incorrectly. It has certainly taken me some time.

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