My most requested subject: how do I hit high notes.
Let's break it down.
#1 We are all born with a predetermined set of notes our vocal cords are physically capable of producing. Some things that determine our vocal range include genetics, physiology, sex (male or female: the 2 sexes have different vocal cord sizes), and some environmental factors.
BUT SO MANY OF US ARE NOT TRAINED TO ACCESS THESE NOTES.
You should never have to push/press/force/squeeze out a note. It should never feel harsh on the vocal cords area.
#2 You need to make sure you are physically aligned to easily access anything high. Posture, released jaw, air pressure, placement, soft palate.
"The singing process functions best when certain physical conditions of the body exist. The ability to move air in and out of the body freely and to obtain the needed quantity of air can be seriously affected by the body alignment of the various parts of the breathing mechanism. A sunken chest position will limit the capacity of the lungs, and a tense abdominal wall will inhibit the downward travel of the diaphragm. Good body alignment allows the breathing mechanism to fulfill its basic function efficiently without any undue expenditure of energy. Good body alignment also makes it easier to initiate phonation and to tune the resonators as proper alignment prevents unnecessary tension in the body. Voice Instructors have also noted that when singers assume good body alignment it often provides them with a greater sense of self-assurance and poise while performing. Audiences also tend to respond better to singers with good body alignment. Habitual good body alignment also ultimately improves the overall health of the body by enabling better blood circulation and preventing fatigue and stress on the body."
Singing: The Mechanism and the Technic by Willian Vennard.
You need to get the body aligned AND relaxed so that the vocal cords can stretch. Kind of like a rubber band!
#3 Don't shy from a note because you may have cracked previously. Continue to condition that area by using a scale to slide through the notes and/or different registers. Focus the entirety of the sound forward (apples of the cheeks). You should feel the vocal mask vibrate, tingle or you should feel some sort of pressure in the face.
#4 For most high notes, try practicing first with a EEE vowel. By doing this you are inadvertently lifting all the singing mechanisms in the body.
*WEE is my favorite.
#5 Hitting high notes is ALL ABOUT THE SET UP. How have you set up your body to allow the vocal cords to stretch to produce the sound? Remember the rubber band?
Physiology of vocal sound production
There are 4 physical processes involved in producing vocal sound:
RESPIRATION - breath is taken
PHONATION - sound is initiated in the larynx (voice box)
RESONATION - vocal resonators receive the sound + influence it (the mask)
ARTICULATION - articulators shape the sound into recognizable units (vowels/words)
The Science of Vocal Pedagogy: Theory and Application by Dudley Ralph Appelman.
#6 Power in a high note comes from the ENTIRE BODY. Your whole body is a resonance chamber like a guitar. It is filled with acoustics. Everything from your nasal passages, teeth, bones - help create the power of your sound. Engage the whole body from the floor up! Relax everything from the diaphragm up to ensure there is no tension so there is no excess strain. Excess strain leads to more cracking! It's like chocking your own vocal cords.
5 Practical Tips:
Go back to breathing basics. Breathe deep from the diaphragm and focus the air through the apples of the cheeks. Your air will go further and you'll need less air to produce a good sound.
Tuck the chin. DO NOT COLLAPSE THE NECK but slightly tuck the chin to release any tension.
DROP THE JAW. This is by far the most important. Like I've said before, "you should be able to fit 3 vertical vertical fingers or a wine cork!"
Focus the sound out of the apples of the cheeks to help lift everything internally.
Practice the note on a WEE if you are finding it difficult with the vowel/word, then add the word back in when you have better form.
EXTRA: Relax your face. If there is strain in your face, there's probably strain in your voice. I've been guilty of this too which is why it's been important for me to relax everything above the diaphragm.
Let me know in the comment section if you have any questions!
See you soon + stay warm! Cx