Most private voice students and many people who participate in my Effortless Singing workshops believe they have limited vocal ranges. Most will say, “I can’t sing high,” or “I don’t like to sing high,” or “I don’t like my high voice,” or “my voice sounds squeaky up high.”
My experience is that most people can learn to sing quite a bit higher than they think is possible, and they can do this comfortably and effortlessly. This blog provides some tools to access the high voice and become more comfortable with it.
In my vocal teaching, I use what I call the “kitty cat voice” method to help children and adults get in touch with their higher vocal register. Everyone has heard someone call a kitty, or has done it themselves. Most people call a kitty in a much higher voice than their speaking voice. Try it. Say, “Here kitty, kitty, kitty.” Now, extend your kitty cat voice, adding air from the belly breath, (described in Blog #5) and you will experience what it is to hold a note in your kitty cat voice (high voice). For example: make the kitty cat sound and go into an “ah” like “kitty – ah” and hold “ah”. This may not be a pretty sound to you (or the student singer) at first because it might be completely new to you. However, it is the first step to get in touch with one’s high voice. If you can speak in a kitty cat voice, you can sing in a kitty cat voice.
Once you or your student gets the “feel” for how to access the high voice with the kitty cat method, use a piano, guitar or some other instrument to find what pitches are being hit with that kitty cat voice. I believe it takes more air to vibrate the vocal cords up high. So, take a low, quick belly breath, then call the kitty, gently pulling in the belly to move the air through the vocal cords. This allows/assists one to sing higher. Change to yah and sing the pitches around the pitch of the kitty cat voice going down 3 pitches (yah, yah, yah). Then, try to move the voice up through the starting kitty cat pitch and sing above it a pitch or two. Open your mouth, preferably in a pucker going from the word “you” and opening into an “ah” with the same pucker as the word “you”. It’s easier to hit high notes with your mouth open and the tone will be better if you pucker; more open and full.
Don’t force it. Just use the belly breath to gently pulling in the belly to move the air. If the pitches hit in the kitty cat voice are the highest pitches, exercise the voice on “yah” from those pitches downward and back up to them. Over time, most singers will be able to also sing above their original kitty cat voice; their kitty cat voice will get higher and higher.
If you do this or encourage students (whatever the case may be) to do this every day, the vocal range will increase and one gets comfortable with the sound and feel of the high voice. Soon, the kitty cat won’t need to be called and the singer will be able to sail on up into his/her higher register, using the belly breath and opening the mouth.
My next blog will discuss “Exercising Your High Voice” and vowel modification in the upper register to make that easier.
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