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How to Sing a High Note

Learn how to sing high notes in this Howcast online singing lesson featuring singer Anya Singleton.


Hi. I'm Anya Singleton. We're going to talk about singing techniques, high notes.

The biggest thing to think about with high notes is you don't want to be afraid of them. That sounds obvious, but I can tell you as somebody who has a lower voice, that high notes used to be very scary for me and I had to think about the best way to approach them in order to make them work for me.

With a high note, it's really about . . . you have to think about when you're making a high note, the vocal folds are going to vibrate much more quickly than they will when you're singing on a lower register. Because they are going to vibrate more quickly, you need to really have more breath control. It makes sense. It's like if you're going to run a really fast race and you're a sprinter, then you're going to need to be able to use up your energy and your faster in a different way than you would if you were going to spread it out over a long-distance race. With high notes, you want to think about making sure that your breathing is really supported. You may need to take more breaths in order to sustain it. The other thing is to think about really opening up your throat so that when you're a doing a high note you feel like everything is loose and connected. It's loose but it seems like an opposite thing to say. By loose, I mean that your throat is loose, your jaw is loose. By connected, I mean the breathing is connecting to the tone, so you're able to support it.

If you feel like you're straining, then what you want to do is check 3 things: Your posture. A lot of times when we go for a high note, we bring our chin up and we bring up the shoulders. It's a subconscious thing that we all do, thinking that it's going to project the note up. Actually, it increases the tension in the throat, so you want to bring the chin down. The next thing is; am I breathing? Am I taking enough breaths to be able to support a high note? The third thing is; what are some great exercises that work well for my high range?

I think the humming and getting higher up the scale is a great one. I think doing very gentle cascades down are great. By that I mean pick a note that's high. For me, let's say I pick an F. What I'm going to do is I'm going to just gently slide all way down. This way, I'm not putting any strain; it doesn't have to be perfect. I'm touching the note and letting everything fall off. If I can do it there, then I can gain more confidence and gain more strength to do it as I work on my scales. Just very simply, if I start here, I'm just going to do it on an open tone sound. I'm just letting it fall all the way down the octave. I should be able to continue that down half a step.

Another important thing to do when you're doing high notes, and it seems counterintuitive, even when you're getting to midrange and low notes, still think about that you're singing a high note. Instead of making it really chesty, think about, 'I'm going to use the same technique I was using for the high note'. You can hear it's lighter, it's more open. I'm thinking about the same technology I was using up here, I'm using down here. That way, when I go to get to the high note, I've actually been utilizing it the whole time, so I'm more comfortable doing it and it doesn't become something to be afraid of.

That's the best way I can think of to work on feeling comfortable singing high notes.

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