Concerns about vocal ranges are not to be taken lightly. A singer’s high notes are like gold–they’re the singer’s “bling.” But they often come at a cost; a singer can’t simply take them for granted. They must be planned in advance so these notes at the far end of normal vocal ranges can be executed with precision. Here are five tips that will help ensure that both the high and low notes hit the jackpot.
Set up the high note with an early consonant.
In order to sing the vowel of the word where it belongs, which is directly on the beat, you must sing the consonant before the word, during part of the time space of the previous word. And also, you must sing the consonant on the pitch of the word before the top note. It is especially important to make the articulation of the consonants very rhythmic.
Go a little early to the high notes.
When you are faced with a high note, don’t come to a pause and hesitate while you gather up your strength. Slowing down is the worst strategy here. Instead, sing the note right on the front side of the beat. Let the music carry you up. It gives your top notes “loft.”
Try simply speaking the uppermost note.
Often you will encounter what I call a “pop-up” note. This is a short top-of-the-arc high note that returns immediately to a lower register. Most singers tend to make even these short notes a destination. They aim for the high note and sing it way too loud and way too long.
This high note is not the destination. You are just passing through it and the less fuss you make of it the better. So why not imagine you are speaking it, instead of singing it? The mind is a powerful force when you sing and, as strange as it sounds, sometimes if you imagine you are speaking, the top note will just pop out easily — and right on pitch.
A note about low notes.
Don’t forget about the low notes. As you stretch the boundaries of your vocal ranges, you will see that many of the little techniques I use on the upper range notes work equally well on the low notes. It’s especially important to go early to the low notes and equally important to imagine you are singing in your speaking voice.
Bonus tip for the highs and lows.
When you are at the extremes of your vocal ranges, special tricks come into play even more. Here’s one you can use–but, please, use it sparingly. As you are about to land on a high note, shift your jaw inward, like a like a buck-toothed rabbit. Execute the note(s) and return your jaw to a normal relaxed position. For a low note, try the opposite. As you approach the note, jut your jaw forward slightly, as if to catch the note in a basket as it falls. And, of course, return to normal.
But, as always, support is the magic bullet. So dig into those legs and dip even lower as your vocal ranges expand.
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