6 Tips to Tackling High Notes in Song

Whether you are beginner singer, or have been singing for years, let’s face it, high notes can be intimidating and a great challenge.  As a voice teacher for the last 8 years, I very often get asked the question “how can I sing those high notes with power?”  Of course it comes down to training and practice, but here are a few hints to keep in mind and help you get started.

1) Vocalize higher than the note in the phrase.  Try a lip trill or tongue trill so you are getting use to going in and out of the head register area.  You have to make sure you ‘stretch and thin’ the vocal cords and the only way to do that is to ‘warm-up’ into that area and above.   Then you can hone in on that particular note in the phrase by using an arpeggio scale, so you are getting used to approaching the note.  Try an arpeggio scale on “wee” or “gee” or “mum”.  If your tendency is to go breathy on higher notes, try using an edgy “m.m.m” on the phrase to get use to resisting the air pressure.

2) Work the melody without the lyrics.  Instead use a vowel consonant combination such as “nay” or “gee” to help get comfortable singing on that note with a consonant and a vowel.

3) Try the lyrics now.  Ensure you are pronouncing the lyrics – both vowels and consonants clearly.

4) Check-in with your volume.  You don’t want to shout the high notes, that being said, you also need to ensure that you have an adequate amount of air pressure (or volume) on the onset of the note.

5) Check your posture.  If you are a ‘reacher’, meaning you are aiming for the note with your chin, ensure proper body alignment and posture in front of a mirror.  Keep your chin from moving up or down and ‘helping’ the note to come out.  If you are a ‘clencher’, ensure that your jaw is ‘un-clenched’ to allow for enough space in your instrument.  (this will from keeping your swallowing muscles involved in getting the high notes)

6) Don’t psyche yourself out.  If the brain gets too involved and you are overthinking this process, you may need to take a step back and approach it with ease and mindfulness.  Ensure that you are in the right space mentally and that there is no frustration, stress or strain present during your practice of the phrase.  If you need to, take a break and come back to it later on.

It’s important non to judge the sound quality just yet, remember get your voice to function well first before working on style and tone.  It make take a few days or week of practice before you can achieve proper balance.  If your voice is in balance, (not just all muscle or not just breathy) very often your tone will naturally improve.  Working with a qualified voice instructor can also help give you the tools to practice so that you you know what to specifically work on in your practice.

AlidaAlida Headshot 2015 is a singer and pianist based in Vancouver, Canada.  A graduate of UBC Music, Alida is also an Advanced Certified IVA singing teacher.   www.alidavocalstudio.com