Ep.22: Sing High Notes: Why You Strain – Part 3
We swallow hundreds of times a day. But the last thing we want is to go into swallowing mode while we sing high notes.
When we do, the larynx rises and the external muscles in our neck and throat squeeze and tighten.
Inside this video, I’ll give you 1 vocal exercise that’ll help you cancel these external squeezing muscles so your vocal cords are able to sing high notes easily.
By now, if you’ve watched the last two videos, you know that thick vocal cords and the rising larynx cause real problems when we sing, especially when we sing high notes.
The result is our vocal cords will not work their very best, we panic and tighten up especially when we try to sing high notes.
How to Sing High Notes without Squeezing
Here’s an exercise that will cancel the external squeezing muscles in the neck and throat surrounding the vocal cords.
This exercise will also help your vocal cords work separately from your swallowing muscles.
Here’s how it works.
- With your thumb feel your chin and move just below your chin until you feel the soft spot below your chin.
- With your thumb, press gently into that upper neck area just below your chin and swallow. As you swallow feel the muscles tighten and push against your thumb. These are the external muscles in the neck which surround and attach to the voice box (larynx). Your vocal cords are attached on the inside of the larynx just behind your Adam’s Apple.
NOTE: The vocal cords are controlled by it’s own groups of muscle, cartilage and ligament. These are separate from the external muscles of the neck and throat. I refer to this group of muscles as the internal muscles.
The internal muscles of the vocal cords work best when they work separately from the external swallowing muscles.
- Make the sound “uh” as “up” (without the “P”). Now make that “uh” with your lips closed.
- While gently pressing your thumb just below your chin, do the following:
On the 1 ½ scale using a “uh” sound gently touch each note up and down the scale like this [Demo].
Only the internal muscles of the vocal cords are needed for this. The internal muscles of the vocal cords don’t need the external muscles to do this exercise.
If you feel the external muscles pushing against your thumb as you are doing this vocal exercise, you are going into swallowing mode. The external muscles are pulling the larynx upward. This gives you unneeded strain, stress and squeeze around the vocal cords as you try to sing high notes.
Your goal is to do this exercise with only the internal vocal cord muscle group. You should be able to do this exercise without the external muscles pushing against your thumb.
Once you are able to do this, your ability to sing high notes without straining or reaching will get much easier.
Sing High Notes with this Advanced Exercise
As you get better at the first exercise, try this more advanced version. It’s the very same as above, except the rhythm is a gallop like this. [Demo the right way and the wrong way].
The goal is the same. Do it with only the internal vocal cord muscles. No external muscles should push against your thumb.
As you’re successful, go up the scale ½ step at at time.
The tendency to reach or squeeze as you sing high notes means your vocal type is likely Pulled Chest-High Larynx.
Don’t get me wrong, if when doing this exercise you find that your thumb is pushed out by these external muscles, that doesn’t mean you’re absolutely Pulled Chest/High Larynx.
Almost every vocal type will have these external muscles involved in the process. We want to disengage those and isolate and do everything we can just with those internal muscles of the vocal cords themselves.
Do you know your vocal type? This doesn’t mean whether you’re soprano, alto, tenor or bass. Your vocal type describes what your voice tends to do when you sing.
To discover your vocal type, visit PowerToSing.com and take the vocal test, which I call the Power Test. Take the quiz and immediately you’ll discover your vocal type.
Then visit the Knowledge Center and watch the videos about your vocal type. Download the free mp3 of vocal exercises designed to help your unique voice. Your voice will improve using these exercises.
I’m Chuck Gilmore with Power To Sing. You can sing higher, with beauty, confidence and power.
I’ll see you inside the next video.