Hitting That High Note: A Guide To Finding Your Singing Voice
Do cats shriek and run and hide when you sing? Does it sound like nails on a chalkboard when you use your voice? Or do your notes roll smoothly like vocal poetry? Whether you are a new singer or can read music effortlessly, I am going to help you to find your singing voice and teach you about musical notes.
The way to look at music is just imagining it like words from a book. The only difference is the symbols represent the pitch, the speed, and the rhythm of the song. Think of the notes as the letters and the phrases as the sentences. There are twelve notes, and the letters they go by are A, B, C, D, E, F, and G.
The Basic Symbols of Notation: The Staff
You need to learn the basics, as music is made up of symbols like the staff, clef, and notes. The staff has five lines and four spaces. Each of those lines and spaces represents a different letter which represents a note. The lines and spaces represent notes named A-G. The note sequence moves alphabetically up the staff.
The Basic Symbols of Notation: The Treble Clef
Music has two main clefs by which to familiarize yourself. One of these is the Treble Clef. Higher notes are notated by the treble clef on the keyboard, violin, flute, and other instruments. For the Treble Clef lines, we use the notes EGBDF on the line and FACE on the spaces (see diagram below).
The Basic Symbols of Notation: The Bass Clef
The Bass Clef, or F clef, notates the lower registers of music (think cello and tuba). The notes GBDFA are the notes on the lines of the bass clef. For the spaces, think “All Cows Eat Grass” (ACEG).
The Parts of the Note
Individual notes are comprised of the note head, the flags, and the stem. The note head is an oval-spaced white (open) or black (closed). The stem is the thin vertical line that is attached to the note head. The flag is the curved stroke that is attached to the end of the stem; it is never drawn to the left of a note head. Cumulatively, the note head, the stem, and the flag provide the listener some rhythm and time of the melody. A person gets to know the time value for any note and understand beats.
Let’s Make Those Notes Fast
It takes rhythm to make the pace of a song faster. To make notes faster in music, we add a flag. Each flag cuts the time value of the note in half, so if you have an eighth note, it is half the value of a quarter note.
Getting to Know Your True Voice
When you are getting to know your true voice, find your confidence and present it as you own it. Knowing your range is discovering your octave. You can sing the major scales starting with C; sing C-D-E-F-G-F-E-D-C. At what point does it become difficult to get the note? The point where it becomes difficult indicates your range. Taking notice of your vocal ability will let you know your voice type. For the modern technological age person, there are apps like SingScope that help you determine your vocal range (identifying the highest and lowest notes you can sing on the pitch).
Finding Your Tessitura
What is tessitura? It is the range that is the most comfortable for you and also the most pleasant. Your range may exceed your tessitura. Think of the songs you like to belt out and recognize the notes. Then, you can practice when your natural singing voice is more like.
Singing the Right Way
There are physical ways to better your singing ability. One of these ways is to have good posture. Stand up straight and keep your neck upright but relaxed. Make certain you are breathing from your diaphragm, as your stomach will go in and out to show this. You get more control of your pitch this way. Also, enunciate your vowels when you sing. All these ways so far help you to become a good singer.
Being Authentic In Voice
No one in the world has your thoughts, direct appearance, and personality. This is the same way your singing ability is. Connecting to nature and using your full body in nature (singing aloud in nature) will help you to become authentic in your voice.
The next time you have to sing a high note, imagine it the opposite. Think of it as adding weight, or resistance, to the high notes. This will make it easier to sing high notes.
Want a More Powerful Voice?
Do you want a more powerful voice with no strain? I advise you to keep your chin pointed slightly down. Sing a scale, but be sure not to have your head bob up and down as you alter your pitch.
Put Your Emotions Into It
Before practicing each song, ask yourself which emotions you would like to bring to the listener. Bring these emotions into your song. Work on thinking of a particular event or moment in your life that evokes emotions similar to the ones that you want to express in your very song. While we want the emotion to be present, we do not want it to take over control. Think of the negative event (if your song is sad), but bring yourself to think of the lyrics and pitch when you do not want to be overwhelmed with emotion.
When you want to get inspiration (and practice), try to find times your local bar or eatery has a karaoke night. Then, pick a song you can learn before you sing it aloud for karaoke night. Practice this song nightly for 5-7 nights. Find the song and sing it in a way only you could. Remember the posture you will sing in, your inflection, your pitch and practice this 3-5 minute song before singing in a bar of patrons. (On a side note: many people get a little hammered in bars, so they are a judgment-free zone to your singing).
Pick a local choir to commit to. This choir can be found in organizations and churches. When you are in a choir, you get to align your voice, and pitch, with others. You get to realize if you are an alto or soprano, if female, and a tenor or bass, if male. Choirs typically practice 1-2 evenings a week and learn a song (or more) in a couple of weeks.
Sometimes it is best to get more of an “expert” advice. You can get the one-on-one you are looking for by taking voice lessons with a voice coach. They will test you on your range, give you confidence, and help you to find your inner style.
Up to You
Whatever you are doing to enhance your inner creativity, your activities are up to you. Maybe you like to write or draw. Spend some time writing, and perhaps you can come up with some zany new song lyrics. You never know; you could be the next big hit!
Overall, learning a few chords and practicing your favorite song(s) are some ways to find your real inner singing voice. Singing karaoke or joining the choir is more of the advanced ways to practice, but the most important point is to be consistent. Keep a constant schedule, keep a healthy diet/exercise program, and avoid beverages that will harm your voice. As always, check in with your doctor initially, before beginning any exercise program.