Vocal technique and hitting high notes
  • Soneto
    Posts: 7
    Which path I must take being newbie and very green at vocals to be able to sing somehow close to benedictine monks chant (french ones, for reference) with this very soft timbre and delicate high notes like the F on this Alleluia: Pascha nostrum ?

  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 2,063
    Short answer: find a solid voice teacher.
    Longer answer: raise the soft palate, vocalize a lot on "ooo", especially downwards, keep things above the chest as relaxed as possible, don't push volume.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Soneto
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,225
    Very nice short answer!! Tru Dat! And remember to raise the eyebrows for those 'high' notes. Plenty of people don't know that and hurt my ears.
  • Carol
    Posts: 856
    I had a vocal director of a community chorus who said to "drop down to the high notes" as opposed to reaching up for them. This imagery may help you to keep from scooping up and maybe not quite reaching the desired pitch.
  • canadashcanadash
    Posts: 1,501
    I second finding an excellent vocal instructor. You could ask this person to give group lessons too.

    If you are singing in a group, decide the exact vowel you are going to sing. It may not be the exact vowel you see, but something that blends better for all, or if you are singing alone, something that is sweeter to your ear. It may be just a little bit of a "tweak" that makes all the difference.

    Vocalize on many different vowels.

    Sing supported, not on the breath.

    It is amazing how much drinking water (at least 250 mls - a cup per hour) has made a difference in my range.
    Thanked by 3Carol CHGiffen Soneto
  • dad29
    Posts: 2,225
    drinking water

    WATER?? Are you kidding?? WATER????

    Beer, Beer, Glorious Beer!!
    Thanked by 2tomjaw Soneto
  • Take instruction from a competent singing teacher.

    If they say "raise the eyebrows for those 'high' notes" - please seek out another instructor. To get good notes, the only thing you should raise is your soft palette.
    Thanked by 2LauraKaz Soneto
  • AriasitaAriasita
    Posts: 31
    Eradicate the word ‘hit’ from your vocal vocabulary. Notes are not to be hit.
    Thanked by 1mmeladirectress
  • emac3183
    Posts: 35
    If you're having trouble finding a voice teacher...although these are sooooo helpful to sing with proper technique. Here are a few tips that may be helpful:

    Learn to breathe properly. Breathe by allowing your abdominals to expand, then only slowly allow them to return to their original position. A relaxed, engaged breath is the only one that will let you sing to your full potential.

    Experiment (slowly) with creating different vowel sounds with your voice by changing your mouth shape, intensity of breath, and thought process (thinking of images/colors/voice types/the sound you're trying to achieve...the list is endless).
    As you do this, notice any differences in sound (sometimes recording yourself can help with this...but be gentle on yourself–very few enjoy listening to recordings of themselves), and then try to replicate your thought process to recreate the relaxed sounds you liked most.

    As you experiment, allow yourself to sound silly, operatic, and everything in between.

    Notice areas that you're keeping tension when you sing (this is often in the jaw or neck area, which strains the muscles of your vocal mechanism). Sometimes it helps to massage your neck/face or lightly stretch as you sing so that you can properly relax these areas.

    Find your breaks (those notes where your voice wants to "crack," has a "fuzzy" consistency, or is just generally less comfortable). Sing with lighter over them, with more space at the back of your mouth (your soft palate), and allow your breath to move freely as you sing them (think to yourself, "I am a wind tunnel").
    Thanked by 2Soneto Carol
  • I only started taking singing seriously a little under two years ago. I decided to cheap out on getting a vocal teacher and instead opted to watch YouTube videos from people like Ken Tamplin.

    If I were to do it again, I would definitely get an in-person teacher and look for something like one session each month with them. It would have saved me a lot of headache to have someone with a good ear provide honest feedback on my voice. If you have a good microphone, I think even getting online one-on-one classes could be worth it (I've seen some that cost $30 for half an hour and $50 for a full hour).

    Overall, the YouTube videos have been beneficial. When I auditioned to join a good choir, they thought I had taken classes with a vocal teacher.
    Thanked by 1Soneto
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 2,068
    A lot can be done from good (emphasis on good) videos. A group of men from Zambia singing in their (Anglican?) churches learned entirely from copying what they found online; Anna Lapwood of Pembroke College, Cambridge goes to visit them and works with them in person, and she’s hosting one soon for his own recital.
  • Can anyone recommend some really solid free online voice lessons? If there was something I could work on a little bit each day, without having to spend any money, that would be ideal. I know I need to improve my singing (I've never had any formal training), but time and money are both issues.
  • Soneto
    Posts: 7
    Raising the soft pallate is definetly the way, but I'm struggling with how to push the air. If I sing "whispering" (just sing very quietly), everything goes well, but there is no much power and, of course, no one can hear. When I go louder, I need to scream on the higher notes and when I fix this, I start to blow the notes and the tone and texture are getting bad. I don't even need to go extreme with this Alleluia, just with the Da pacem, Domine, in the key from this Giovanni Vianini's execution, I'm having this problem in 'Do-mi-ne' part.

    About the vocal teacher, could it be any classical-repertoire good one? I felt that the technique for gregorian chant is somewhat different from classical music. But, anyway, I would like to have in-person classes in the future, because now it will be very difficult and there is no much good teachers avaliable.
    Is there any online course, or even any method book that I could follow?
  • MatthewRoth
    Posts: 2,068
    If you can’t find a chant specialist, find a good classical teacher, not someone who claims to do classical but who does a lot of pop and country (I’m based near Nashville; this is a problem). Then do chant as your repertoire. This advice was given by a trustworthy source, and it may well be the best that most of us can do.
  • Maureen
    Posts: 675
    Soneto -- Your entire body is a stereo speaker. So is your head. When you were a baby, you could fill an entire concert hall with sound, and it probably took a really long time to run out of breath. So you don't need to push anything.

    So basically, you get louder by relaxing, by letting the sound sort of flow out more, and various unconscious things will happen to make things louder. When you get a good result, remember how it felt, and see if you can do it again. Don't be afraid to make silly sounds.

    You can also do things like visualizing the sound, coming out of your mouth, going back into your head at various points right above your nose/eyebrows. Play with this, and see if it helps. If it doesn't do anything for you, just forget it.
  • Soneto
    Posts: 7
    Sorry, I didn't use the right terms. When I said "I'm struggling with how to push the air", it is not "force" the air, but simply how let the air to get out with enough power.
  • Have a look at diaphragmatic support, proper posture and lip trills. Can't really go wrong here, this is universal for all kinds of music. Here's a couple videos.

    https://youtu.be/wIhnMq-rzYc?si=x8q1JJwt2f-D48t6&t=60 - Proper posture, breathing exercises, and a short tutorial on lip trills.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VyMb-hNYxh4&t=149s - Bit out of context from the video, but pretty good examples of common pitfalls when doing lip trills.
  • Carol
    Posts: 856
    I am definitely not an expert, but you complained that you were having more difficulty with the high notes. Perhaps you are trying to sing above your natural range. This is where a vocal teacher could be of benefit helping you find your proper range. If you cannot get an in person teacher, I would work on technique in the middle of what seems to be my range. I, personally, can produce a lot more notes on the top and bottom of my voice. That doesn't mean I would actually sing them in public.
  • Liam
    Posts: 5,001
    "Perhaps you are trying to sing above your natural range."

    That certainly can be true in SATB part-singing: the voices of majority of women are mezzos, and the voices of a majority of men are baritones, and for untrained singers SATB parts can be a burden on those voices unless the parts are divided further, et cet. True soprano, alto, tenor, and bass voices are rarer than mezzo and baritone voices on the ground. Directors who are unaware of that reality may ignore the signs of it.
    Thanked by 2CHGiffen Carol