Today we’re tackling a frequently asked question in our voice and musical theatre classes. Have you always wondered what your ‘head voice’ is and how to find it?
Read some of Lucinda Panties‘ tips for beginners below, or book a time to visit one of our instrumental voice specialists!
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 or talking. 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 kids or squishy little adorable pets). Some singers feel that when they sing in this register, they produce a more ‘airy’ or less firm tone, and fear that they’ll miss a note or fall out of pitch.
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!
1. First, ensure your posture is good – feet flat on the floor, shoulders away from your ears, straight back and abdominal muscles “switched on”. We should always pay close attention to posture when singing, no matter how high or low the notes are!
2. 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).
3. Thirdly, ensure you raise your soft palate – the back of the roof of our mouth. If you aren’t sure where this is our how it feels 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 can’t do it now, you’ll be able to do it later, IF you put the work in to it. 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! You should always be thoroughly warmed up, and never push yourself too hard – exercises and warm ups should get progressively higher (i.e. chromatically) rather than jumping up too high too fast.
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 an LVC private singing teacher, or participate in group classes like Musical Theatre, staff will give you plenty of exercises to try. You can always practise scales and other exercises to help increase your range and open up the voice too. 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.