Understanding how to hit high notes is imperative for any singer, as these are often the notes that make the biggest impact on your listeners.
However, hitting high notes doesn’t come easily. Even if you’re a naturally gifted singer, it takes hard work, dedication, and lots of practice to sing higher.
The best singers can sing high notes successfully using proper technique. In this article, we’ll show you step-by-step how to improve your vocal range and reduce strain so you can rock your next performance.
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How To Hit High Notes Singing (Step-By-Step)
High notes can be incredibly intimidating, but only if you don’t understand how to control your voice. So although you may feel and hear that crack in your voice, it’s possible to reach those notes with confidence and poise.
Let’s look at some practical things you can do to hit high notes without straining. After reading through this article, you’ll be able to sing higher notes in no time!
1. Identify Your Vocal Range
The first step to singing high notes is to find your individual vocal range. Everyone’s range is different, and some people can sing higher or lower than others.
The important thing is to pinpoint where yours starts and ends. You’ll be able to sing any of the most popular music genres once you do that.
These are the different vocal ranges you can fall into:
- Mezzo-Soprano – ranges from A below middle C to A below high C
- Soprano – ranges from middle C to high C
- Contralto/Countertenor – ranges from F below middle C to the second F above middle C
- Tenor – ranges from B below middle C to A above middle C
- Baritone – ranges from the second G below middle C to F above middle C
- Bass – ranges from the second E below middle C to E above middle C
Once you discover your range, you’ll be able to measure your progress (yes, it’s possible to increase your vocal range!), find songs you can sing well, and ensure that your warm-up exercises are safe and effective.
2. Maintain Good Vocal Health
You won’t be able to hit high notes if you don’t maintain proper vocal hygiene. If you don’t want to be a singer who uses autotune, you’ll want to take notes on this.
It’s important to keep your voice healthy, so here are a few do’s and don’ts to consider:
- Stay hydrated by drinking between six to eight glasses of water a day.
- Incorporate warm-up exercises into your vocal routine.
- Make sure to rest your voice, especially after overusing your voice (i.e., yelling over the crowd to your friend at a concert or after a long vocal performance).
- Use a humidifier in your bedroom (especially if you live in a dry region) to lubricate the vocal cords.
- Use your diaphragm when singing.
- Scream, shout, or whisper, as these can strain your voice.
- Smoke, as the chemicals and heat, will irritate the throat and could lead to vocal polyps, laryngitis, and other diseases.
- Use medicines like antihistamines and decongestants, as they can dry the throat.
- Overindulge in coffee or alcohol, as these can dehydrate your vocal folds.
- Rely on your throat when singing.
If you focus on taking good care of your voice, it will return the favor! When your voice is healthy, you’ll be able to hit high notes with ease.
3. Learn To Breathe Correctly
Singing requires a large amount of airflow, and you won’t be able to sing your best without understanding how to breathe correctly.
When you’re trying to sing high notes, it’s important for you to recognize whether you’re singing from your diaphragm or your throat.
Understanding how to sing from your diaphragm plays a critical role in a singer’s ability to reach higher notes, as it’s where vocal power originates.
If your shoulders and chest are moving up and down as you breathe, you’ll know you’re not singing from your diaphragm correctly. When you inhale, let your stomach expand. Then, as you exhale, suck your stomach in.
Singing on your back, practicing lip trills, and stretching your vocal cords with sirens can help engage your diaphragm and strengthen not only your overall voice but your diaphragm as well.
4. Neutralize Your Larynx
According to the Britannica dictionary, the larynx (or voice box) is a “hollow, tubular structure connected to the top of the windpipe.” The muscles inside it move and stretch the vocal folds to change pitch.
When you’re trying to sing high, your larynx will naturally lift up. Many singers believe that a higher larynx means more vocal power, however, this is not the case.
Instead, having a higher larynx when reaching for higher notes can restrict airflow and choke the voice. Why? Because the vocal folds are no longer free to stretch and hit those higher pitches.
So, to help you hit higher notes, you need to relax your larynx. One of the best ways to do this is by yawning into high notes on a “gee” sound up a scale.
After you practice this a few times, you’ll notice your larynx balancing out and your high notes improving.
5. Relax Your Neck & Facial Muscles
Tension is a singer’s worst enemy. It can block the airflow from your lungs to your throat, ultimately leading to vocal strain and damage.
That being said, the next thing you want to do is make sure that you relax the muscles in and around your face and neck, including the tongue, jaw, larynx, and throat.
Here are a few stretching exercises you can do:
- Yawns – Yawning simultaneously extends your soft palate, stretches your jaw, and increases oxygen flow. Simply yawn a few times or until you feel ready to move on to a different exercise.
- Neck Stretch – Look to the left and then to the right slowly. Then, bring your right ear to your right shoulder and vice versa.
- Laryngeal Massage – You can either have this done by a professional or try it yourself. Check out the video above to learn how to do it.
- Tongue Stretch – Although you may sometimes forget about it, the tongue plays a significant role in singing. To relieve tongue tension, you can stick your tongue out and pull it back in multiple times and roll it around in your mouth.
It’s easier to perform activities like sports and dancing when relaxed. The same goes for singing. Stretching your neck and facial muscles will relieve tension and allow for improved breath control, tone, and dynamics.
So, make sure you’re stretched and ready to go before you start belting out your favorite song!
6. Focus On Proper Posture
Some of the best singers of all time will be the first to tell you that posture matters, especially when you’re singing high notes.
Correct posture helps you engage your diaphragm while singing and opens your lungs up so you can breathe deeply and sustain notes longer.
To achieve good posture, sit down or stand up with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep your shoulders rolled back and relaxed (they should be good to go since you stretched them out earlier!).
When you’re trying to reach high notes, you may be tempted to point your chin up. However, this posture can cause tension in your throat. So instead, focus on keeping your chin parallel to the floor.
7. Warm Up Your Vocal Cords
Just like how an athlete warms up before a big game, singers need to warm up their vocal muscles, otherwise known as their vocal cords. Failing to do so could result in an unfortunate injury, and you don’t want that!
Once you’ve stretched your facial and neck muscles and are feeling loose, you can start actually using your voice to sing.
Here are a few common vocal exercises for hitting high notes:
- The Bratty “Nay” – Sing the word “nay” in a nasal tone (like you would if you plugged your nose and started talking) and sing up and down a scale.
- Vocal Sirens – Begin at the lowest note in your vocal range and make an “ooh” sound. Then, sing up the scale to the highest note you can reach and back down.
- Lip Trills – This is also known as the “lip buzz.” Simply pucker your lips and breathe in. Next, blow the air out of your mouth through your closed lips, which should make a motorboat sound. Sing up and down a scale.
- The “Gee” Exercise – Say the word “gee” (like you would if you were saying the word “geese”) at a comfortable starting pitch. Then, sing up a scale, replacing each note with this sound.
Check out our list of the 10 best vocal exercises for singers if you’re interested in learning more vocal techniques to improve your voice.
8. Practice Singing Vowel Sounds
Singing vowel sounds is a tried and true way to improve your vocal technique and help you hit higher notes. In fact, these sounds have specific frequencies of their own and depend on the particular shape of the vocal tract.
As you sing higher, it’s important that you open your vowels. This means you’ll keep your tongue in the lowest possible position in your mouth, creating more space in your oral cavity to produce the sound.
Different vowels impact your voice in different ways. For instance, many pop songs feature more of the “ooh” vowel shape, while opera and theatrical music tend to use more “aa” sounds.
Try practicing “uh,” “eh, “ooh,” and “aa” vowels while singing up and down a scale. Relaxing your tongue, lifting your upper lip, and lowering your jaw will help you achieve a fuller, more resonant vowel sound.
9. Use Your Three Voices
Everyone has two vocal registers: head voice (also known as the falsetto voice) and chest voice (belting). You can use one voice at a time or both simultaneously, which is called “mixed voice.”
The greatest singers who don’t use autotune can switch seamlessly between each of their voices and hit high notes in each voice. And you can too!
You can pick the type of voice you use based on the notes you’re singing. For example, the highest note you can reach while belting will probably be much higher than the note you can reach when you’re singing in your head.
One of the best ways to help you develop your registers is by practicing the voice you sing in the least often. So, if you’re a heavier singer who belts a lot, you should try to focus on your falsetto and vice versa.
Recognizing the differences between your head voice and chest voice and learning how to transition is key to gaining greater vocal control for hitting high notes without straining.
10. Practice Singing High Notes
Of course, you’ve heard repeatedly that practice makes perfect, and it’s true. If you’ve asked yourself: can anyone learn to sing? We’re here to tell you yes!
With consistent practice and determination, you can certainly learn how to sing high notes like the pros. How else do you think they got to where they are?
It’s all about the time and effort you put into learning the proper vocal technique. So, be sure to practice daily. Whether you’re doing vocal exercises in your shower, you’re singing some of the best songs of all time in your car, or you’re investing in professional singing lessons, a little practice can go a long way.
We hope you now have a better understanding of how to sing high notes and that you’ll use these tips and tricks to improve your singing voice.
High notes can be scary for most singers, but they don’t have to be! With knowledge of proper vocal technique and regular practice, you’ll find yourself reaching the top notes of your favorite songs in no time.
Pretty soon, those high notes you hated so much will become comfortable notes in your vocal range. Until then, keep on singing and practicing these techniques!
Let us know if these steps work for you in the comment below.
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