Why is it important to exercise your high voice? When a runner is preparing to run a one mile race, that runner will train by regularly running further, perhaps even 5 miles or more. Why? To build stamina so that one mile will feel “effortless”.
The voice needs to be exercised in the same way. Vocalize way above AND below where you normally sing so that your comfortable singing range is effortless. Also, by vocalizing your entire vocal spectrum, your comfortable singing range and it will gradually be extended in both directions, giving you more flexibility with the kinds of songs you can sing or write. This adds variety for listeners and allows you to use your voice as a true instrument.
The only way to exercise the high voice is to use it. But first you need to open up the possibilities of your high voice mentally and literally. Be willing to sing higher. Have an open mind about your vocal possibilities. See blog #9 on “Accessing Your High Voice” to learn how to do this using what I call the “kitty cat” voice. If you can already access high vocal sounds, then it is beneficial to sing some exercises which move your voice from your low voice up through your comfortable singing range, and then on up into your high voice and back down again.
Exercising your high voice will not only increase your singing range but it will strengthen your high voice and make it more consistent with your low voice; making your voice one seamless continuum.
Take a belly breath to “sing” a quick siren-like wooooow from your normal middle range singing voice on up to your high voice and back down again (a 2 second exercise). Gently pull in your belly from start to finish. If you are unfamiliar with the belly breath, see blog #5 on Brenda’s Effortless Singing Techniques (“BEST”) which describes the belly breath as part of P-BOP (Posture, Belly Breath, Open and Pucker).
Sirens are a good way to warm up your entire register. The siren technique is described on my Effortless Singing with Brenda Freed 2 CD set: CD 1, Track 6. Take a belly breath. Immediately after taking the belly breath, say the word WOW as you move the air holding the “wah” sound from your lowest pitch up through your kitty cat voice and back down closing on the “w” like “waaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhoooow”. Your belly should go out when you inhale (filling) and come in as your voice goes up (emptying). Keep your belly coming in as your voice slides back down. And then you’re ready to take another belly breath and do it again.
Open your mouth more as you go higher. It is amazing how creating more space for sound by opening one’s mouth will facilitate the ability to sing higher. It will also give the voice more volume and depth. Do not force the tones up high. Use the belly breath and keep the muscle under your chin and your neck relaxed.
Play around with trying to go higher with your siren every time. If you have little time to warm up before a performance, at least do some sirens. You can practice sirens without instruction on my Effortless Singing CD 2, Track 1.
The “ah” sound is much easier to sing up high than any other vowel sound. When singing in your higher register, always add “ah” with your mouth in a pucker to every vowel up in that register. It will help you hit the note and the word you are singing will sound fine. For example, “night” becomes “naheet”; “late” becomes “laheet”; “that” becomes “thaht”; “hot” becomes “haht”, (not much different) and the “u” in “up” becomes “ahp”. The “e” sound as in “sleep” or “kept”, the “i” as in “miss”, the “u” as in “truth” and the “o” as in “hope” should be sung thinking an “ah” and with the mouth in a pucker.
More exercises for working out your high voice are on Effortless Singing with Brenda Freed CD 1 Track 6: Vocal Exercises With Instruction and on CD 2 Tracks 2-6: the same vocal exercises without instruction. CD 2 was intended for practice while you’re in your car and to warm up on the way to a performance.
The 2 CD set, Effortless Singing with Brenda Freed, is available at the Effortless Music Instruction store and as a download on iTunes and all major download and streaming sites.
So, exercise that high voice and soon you will notice a difference in the strength and flexibility of your entire vocal range. Be brave. It will be fun for you to sing songs you never thought you could sing because you thought they were too high. Sing on!
© 2016 Moondance Treasures Music Publishing