Excellent Guides to Sing Higher
One of the great demands being imposed upon singers is the ability to sing higher notes. However, in those individuals who have added more high notes to their range, they have difficulty in sustaining them. Others who are asked to perform compositions with many high notes (like the arias for coloratura sopranos) soon develop voice fatigue.
Now, let’s know how to sing higher.
Sing Higher – Tessitura is the Comfortable Range
The problem in both these cases has nothing to do with your high range. Instead, you must pay closer attention to your tessitura, which is your comfortable voice range wherein you can sing notes on pitch, devoid of strain, and with consistency. Tessitura also refers to the middle or average pitch range in a song or choral section.
To explain further, let us take a look at mezzo-sopranos. Some mezzo-sopranos have the voice power to reach the high C – the extreme point of their range – but their tessitura actually falls a half octave or even a full octave below this extreme range. Most likely, their tessitura is from A a little above the middle C to the next higher A to above the middle C. Constantly forcing themselves to sing a composition with a tessitura of from high G to high C will most surely lead to voice strain and fatigue.
Before you engage in any vocal calisthenics, you need to determine your own tessitura in order for you to confine song selections within that range. While it is possible to sing at a range higher than your tessitura, there is a great risk that you might strain and ultimately damage your voice.
Some individuals are interested in raising their tessitura. However, it would take a lot of time and effort to achieve this goal. Key factors that need to be worked on are breath support in combination with upper resonance. Many singers have had their voices ruined by singing high notes from the throat without good breath support, and this is what must be avoided.
Sing Higher – Breathing Technique
Singing high notes expends more breath energy in comparison to singing low notes. This extra energy can be obtained by fully expanding the midsection during inhalation using the respiratory muscles, namely the intercostals, diaphragm, abdominals, and spinals. During exhalation, the midsection should be kept in an expanded state, with the exception of the abdominals which are needed to control breath flow.
Once you know to breathe correctly, concentrate on your “head voice” or upper resonance. Imagine the tone to be vertical instead of horizontal, and with the sound coming from your forehead and top of your head. It is similar to riding in an elevator, with your breath pushing the elevator up and down.
As you do this, you should feel vibrations in your sinuses and soft palate (the roof of your mouth). Your lips should be narrowed horizontally but the inside of your mouth should be expanded vertically. It is similar to swallowing something that tastes bad, with your throat wide open, so that whatever it is you have eaten does not touch the sides of your mouth.
Always keep your tone light and not forceful. Begin with a vocal siren or yawn-slide. In a yawn-slide, open your mouth in a yawn as you inhale or exhale with a “hoo” or “hee’ sound, starting at the top of your range sliding down to your lowest range. Every time you do this, successively increase your pitch.
For the vocal siren, you do the reverse, starting at your low range and going up to the high range. Do this while humming. As your breath support improves and strengthens, perform the siren down and up and up and down many times in a single breath.
One exercise you can also do is the rapid ascending and descending five-tone scale. Using the buzz (“lip roll” or “bubble lips”) or vowel sounds (“ah” or “oo”), begin at mid-range, then do the pattern do-re-mi-fa-so-fa-mi-re-do. Successive patterns should be a half-step higher than the previous. Observe good breath support.
With patience and constant exercise, you can increase your tessitura range and sing higher notes with greater ease and comfort. Be persistent and do not force yourself to reach unrealistic voice ranges.
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