How Do I Increase My Range and Hit The High Notes?
Almost every Singer at some point asks this question because they have come face to face a limitation in their current range.
In today's contemporary musical world hearing Artists with a high range is the norm. Yet most people have a real challenge achieving that, at least with ease and with consistency. The solution to dramatically increasing our range is to recognize how your mind and body instrument works.
How do we approach this?
There were different schools of thought on this. Three main ones in my mind. That's a lot. So how will I know what is best for me?
You can relax. I say that a lot to people. And they do :).
Let's explore and see what resonates with you best. I think then you'll feel what might be the way that fits you.
Let me first tell you a story about an old Classical school, then a more 'modern' approach. And then finally I'll tell you what I find helps people even more than those two, and seems to make them very happy.
OR if you don't want to learn about this and instead just want to start and be pointed in a direction that works for you, or you want to keep it simple, then go back to www.afreesingingvoice.com. You can contact me and arrange a conversation. And we'll move straight into helping you.
You don't need to understand any of this if you don't want to. However, some of you wish to understand how Vocalists are doing what they do. The history of it. And you want to make an educated decision.
Ok. First, there was the OLD school...the traditional or 'Classical' school of vocalizing. Think Pavarotti. Think Opera.
The old school obviously produced and produces some great vocalists. Though it doesn't really suit modern singing styles. It can sound 'old'. It doesn't sound contemporary. Still beautiful though. :)
The traditional school ( Classical and Opera ) treats your instrument as one continuous register.
The challenge with the traditional ( Opera, Classical ) approach is that it usually takes a long time ( years ) to increase your range by just a few notes. With the traditional approach basically either you have it or you don't... and most don't. The great news for us is that there is a more effective and easier way.
Then came a more modern ( in the 1970's ) 'Register' approach which looks at different registers within the human voice. For example, the high notes are one register. The low notes are a completely different part of the instrument, and as such approached differently. Think Steve Wonder. Awesome!
When I started teaching the register approach 15 years ago, suddenly we could easily get to all those notes that were out of reach. It felt like a magic breakthrough. No more decades of study. Yay! And it sure helped people like Stevie Wonder.
Who uses the register approach?
Popular artists from Stevie Wonder to Diana Ross to Al Jarreau... from Michael Bolton to Madonna. It isn't ALL they use, but some say it helped them a lot. At the time the Register approach was the cool secret to hitting high notes and increasing range.
At the end of this article I'll tell you more about what myself and my favourite coaches, in Los Angeles and Europe are using now ( it isn't the Register approach, or the Traditional approach ).
So how do I effortlessly hit the high notes?
Teachers who teach this register technique will teach you simple, even silly sounding exercises called Lip Rolls and Tongue Trills to activate the singer's upper registers. Try this... First: Sing a low note with your chesty early 'first thing in the morning' voice...Ahhhh Place your hand on your chest as you do this and feel the chest resonate.
This is your chest register. Second: Place your hand on the back of your head and tone a very high hooty 'Hooooo' sound like an Owl would make. Did you feel the resonance on the back of your head? This is your head register. The discovery of the head register is a secret many Artists raved about.
Because for the first time they were able to sing high. Like Elton John. Even though it has limitations. Maybe because it isn't as natural, in my experience.
Note that this is not the same as falsetto, that airy/breathy sound where the vocal chords don't close completely. Which is wonderful for some things. A pure head register doesn't sound airy.
Their 'secret'... The secret to full, rich and effortless high notes ( as well as very high notes ) was learning how to combine ( or 'Mix ) the chest register with the head register in the same note. This theoretically gave your sound the richness and depth of the chest sound with the extended range and freedom of the head sound...both at the same time...in the same high note!
If I knew 30 years ago what I knew then I would have have run, not walked, to the phone book to find a teacher that could teach me how to activate my registers. Regardless, I feel blessed to have learned them.
I'm glad you took the time to read about the one more modern way that people learned to get the high notes. It helps understand what is possible for you today. But I've found there is an even more effective way.
Artists in THESE programs enjoy singing ALL of the high notes.
There is an even more effective, more natural way. It is simpler, more holistic and gives a surprising feeling of confidence and relaxation.
Now think of water luxuriously streaming from a waterfall.... Beautiful.
They tell me reaching their high notes feels like water flowing from a waterfall.... easy and relaxed.
You know you want that easy, calm feeling. :)
The simplest and most helpful two things to know about reaching the high notes.
There are two reasons someone can't reach the high notes.
First, the 'strings' that need to vibrate to make the note aren't able to vibrate because there is another part of the body blocking the vibration. Basically there is muscular tension. The other reason is that what needs to vibrate to reach the high note isn't strong enough yet.
It isn't strong enough because the tension that is in the way actually kept it from becoming strong.
Try running with your leg in a cast. THAT is what is happening in your voice if there is any tension at all. ( Think microscopic tension you can't see or even notice ). It all gets in the way.
Remove the cast and now the leg can move. It can move but it is weak.
This tension doesn't allow the vibration to happen. Imagine putting your hand over the strings of the violin as they vibrate. Different experience.
In my experience the main tension originates from our thoughts. Those who wish to explore this find that once they release the mind, they often can sing higher and easier just from that. But some see that as 'woo-woo' too out there and would rather work on it the physical way. Whatever turns you on. They both work. Ideally together.
The tension around the vibration restricts the notes . But only completely! Ouch. A first step is to identify the tension. There are a number of places where the tension could be held. First we identify, then we release each of those tensions one by one. Systematically. Say 'bye-bye' to tension.
Now, the chords that do the vibrating can actually vibrate freely for the first time! Now they're saying 'FINALLY! Thank you... I've always wanted you to let go like this. What kept you?' :)
Now they can move freely now but aren't strong yet, and that is the next step. Strengthening the vibrating strings that make your actual tone, your sound. We introduce in the programs ways to develop strength. Then one day the Vocalist wakes up and with strong chords. And hears those high notes sounding magnificent. Oh yeah baby.
We get your leg completely out of the cast it has been in. Then we make it strong so you never need the cast again. Now you're in a totally different place.
It can be a fun day when you see that come together. When it happens through a fun, enjoyable process.
So that is how we are doing it these days, and soloists, song-writers and performers alike are LOVING it. They keep saying it feels so good to reach ALL those higher notes easily and effectively.
The day you can easily go way up there to reach the high parts in your songs is a happy day and I truly wish that for you.
I love seeing good folk walk out of the teaching studio with magical high tones pouring out of them.
It happens for people every day, every week. It is one of the benefits of learning this work. Do the work. Free the mind. And love your expanded and high vocal range.
That is my wish for you.