Singing in your Head Voice
What is the difference between your Chest Voice and your Head Voice?
The terms ‘chest’ and ‘head’ voice refer to where your sound is resonating. An easy way to think about it is that your chest voice is your normal speaking voice, and the register in which most people feel naturally comfortable singing. Some instructors describe the head voice as the register you use when you’re talking in a ‘baby voice’ (the sing-song voice we sometimes use when talking to babies or adorable pets). Some singers feel that when they sing in this register, they produce a more ‘airy’ or less firm tone.
How can I reach my Head Voice?
It may be easier than you think! A lot of the time when people feel they’re struggling to sing well in their head voice, the real problem is psychological. Because the head voice is the register we use to sing higher notes, it’s often accompanied by a fear of singing too high, or reluctance to really give it a go in case we don’t sound perfect. Don’t overthink the process – it’s not as complicated as you may believe!
First, ensure your posture is good – feet flat on the floor, shoulders away from your ears, straight back and stomach muscles “switched on”. We should always pay close attention to posture when singing, no matter how high or low the notes are!
Second, make sure you are taking full, deep breaths. You need to have enough air leaving your mouth to support the note and give it a rich, full tone (as opposed to an airy, breathy tone).
In classes at WAPS you might see singers raising their eyebrows sometimes – we think this helps us too! We also make sure we raise our soft palate – the back of the roof of our mouth. If you aren’t sure where this is our how to lift it, do a big yawn – do you feel the soft palate lift up right at the start of your yawn? This is a great movement to think about when preparing yourself to sing high notes in your head voice.
What if I can’t do it?
Keep practising! If you feel your voice or throat restricting and are finding it difficult to reach, try talking in your baby voice again to ‘loosen up’ and relax. A tighter, tense throat will never help you sing with confidence in your head voice – in fact it may result in damage and pain!
How should I practise at home?
Ensure you are comfortable and have good posture. You should be able to give it 100% so make sure you have time to yourself where you won’t feel like you’re disturbing anyone.
If you have a private or group singing teacher, they will give you plenty of exercises to try, but you can always practise scales and other exercises to help increase your range and open up the voice. Search YouTube for tutorials or backing tracks for scales and exercises. Ascending exercises are great for slowly and gently working higher up the scale and gaining confidence in increasing your range.