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Moving Into The Head Voice

Moving Into The Head Voice

Many singers have the idea that in order to sing high notes with power, that they must stay in their chest voice and keep pushing harder and harder in order to avoid breaking into falsetto. Unfortunately this type of singing is a common reason for vocal strain, and ultimately vocal damage. Dragging your chest voice higher by pushing harder is really not singing, but yelling.

There is a misconception that to be in a “full voice” one must avoid “head voice,” or that anything that isn’t chest voice, must be “falsetto.”

Consider for a moment, the lowest string on a guitar. The gauge is thick and heavy, especially when compared to the other strings. Due to the fact that it is thick and heavy, it is tuned to a lower pitch than the thinner gauge strings. Trying to tune it much higher than its optimum pitch, will break the string, and possibly damage the rest of the guitar.

Similarly, the vocal folds can have their own “gauges” so to speak. The lowest sung pitches must have a thick and short configuration of vocal folds. In order to raise the pitch, it is imperative that the cords be allowed to stretch, thereby allowing for a thinning to occur. If a singer tries to sing with too much thickness of vocal fold for any particular pitch, they will have to compensate by using extra breath pressure to attempt to approximate the pitch. Too much of this type of vocalism is potentially quite dangerous.

When a singer trains to be able to gradually move into a thinner vocal fold condition for ascending pitches, they experience what seems to them to be a loss in volume and power.  However, what the singer is experiencing is very different from what the audience is hearing. The audience hears a very free, powerful and pleasing sound when a singer moves into a connected head voice.

Obviously, within all good vocal technique there are variations of sound necessary according to style. Pop, rock, R&B and musical theater belters will have much more thickness of vocal folds in the higher pitches than some other styles of singers. However, they will still allow for a thinning of cord structure to occur as they sing into their head voice, rather than trying to drag the chest all the way up.

Learning how to move from the chest voice into a connected head voice takes time, patience and training, but it is what is necessary for any serious singer who is planning on singing for a living. Not training properly is certainly a recipe for vocal fatigue, strain, and ultimately vocal damage. I recommend that all singers begin to seriously train their voices as soon as possible, and keep up their training throughout their careers. That way their voice is always in optimal condition to give the best performances, and stay healthy all at the same time.

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