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5 Ways to Master Your High Notes | VoiceCouncil Magazine

4/27/16, 1:43 PM

April 27th, 2016 | by VoiceCouncil

5 Ways to Master Your High Notes

The biggest percentage of new singers that come to study with me are interested in increasing their
vocal range so that they do not have to worry about the high notes in songs -says Ron Browning
They are tired of straining, and some have even pushed their voices to the max, which has
resulted in vocal abuse issues.
These singers are in search of smart techniques that will allow them to be the powerhouse
vocalist they want to be, and they want to feel fearless when they sing.
I have had the good fortune to work with singers, known for their sky-is-the-limit vocal range,
Allen Stone and Patti LaBelle, to name only two. So these tips have certainly been tested!
Below are 5 methods I have used in helping singers find their upper registers easily.
I suggest that you study closely with a teacher and/or voice coach so they can monitor your

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5 Ways to Master Your High Notes | VoiceCouncil Magazine

4/27/16, 1:43 PM

progress on a weekly basis.

That way you will not create unnecessary tension
from practicing incorrectly. I cannot stress this

With NBC The Voice Star (Season 8)

Meghan Linsey at the end of her voice

1. Laser Beam Method

Sometimes it can be helpful for singers to think
figuratively. Pretend that you have a laser gun in your
torso pointing up. Shoot out a high note from the gun
and aim it toward the dome of the head. Keep the body
relaxed and keep the throat open. Avoid grabbing the
note with the swallowing muscles as you approach the
first high note in the phrase. Send it from the diaphragm,
letting it slip through the throat with no counteraction
from the throat in any way.
The throat should not attempt to manage or stress about
the high note, or any note for that matter. It should
remain, at all times, unconcerned. The neck, jaw, lips,
tongue, chin, and eyebrows should not tighten or
attempt to adjust pitch or placement.
The high note should feel as though it oozes out of the singer. Avoid being loud and rough on
the attack of the high notes. Instead, think of being beamed up into them. It is easier if you
remember to use less volume as the pitches climb higher and higher. The singer must keep
the lips dedicated to the words, as if he or she were to speak the words in a real conversation.
They should avoid over articulating in an effort to accommodate the higher pitches. So speak it
first, then sing it! The mouth should feel the same for both.

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5 Ways to Master Your High Notes | VoiceCouncil Magazine

4/27/16, 1:43 PM

2. Staccato Scales
Work out with very light, fast moving scales in the top
part of the vocal range. Do so first with a 3 note scale
then a 5 note scale then 8 and 9 note scales. Keep
the tempo brisk and the dynamics light. Keep the attacks
quick. Staccato will yield the best results.
Bring forth no big energy at all. Do not open the mouth
bigger to accommodate the high pitches in any way.
Keep the mouth size consistently the same on the high
pitches as well as the low pitches. Practice with a mirror
and monitor the mouth. Keep the whole body relaxed
but alert, especially the face. Use the syllables yum
yum yum or meow meow meow (like a cartoon cat),
singing one syllable per note.
Avoid over articulating. Keep the mouth small. Then try two notes per syllable on a 5-note
scale, neh no neh no neh. In the key of C, neh would include notes c and d and no
would include notes e and f, and so on. This will aid in flexibility if you sing lightly and keep
the tempo moving along. Think thinner voice so the resonance comes more from the nose
Above all, avoid over-breathing and over-supporting. After working this way, you will soon
notice that higher pitches will start to pop out by surprise, effortlessly. The lighter your
approach is, the quicker the higher pitches start to appear in the vocal range. So pulling back
on the amount of breath and support used, and keeping the volume at moderately loud, or a
little less, are the key ingredients. For high notes this needs to become the new default.
Remember that high notes are very exciting, but you the instrument must NEVER get
excited! You must grow and maintain a will for smart action.

3. The Inversion Table for the Daring

For the adventurous, here is an unconventional method
for singing high notes effortlessly.
Strap your ankles into an inversion table. Sing a song
that has a difficult high note that seems to be out in the
stratosphere somewhere.
A couple of beats before the high note, flip yourself up

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5 Ways to Master Your High Notes | VoiceCouncil Magazine

4/27/16, 1:43 PM

side-down on the inversion table. The difficult note, or

notes, that you thought impossible, will plop right out as
easy as pie.
This happens because the body is disoriented and
doesnt have time to put up the fight to try to control the
note(s). This proves to the body that the high notes do
not need your help with placement. It will convince you
to get out of your own way and just let the high notes
take place. You will use breath and support that are
more natural.
NOTE: Be careful with this experiment. If you do it, you
will need an excellent table and be sure your ankles are
strapped in firmly. Do not do it if you are a singer with certain medical conditions: high blood
pressure, a heart condition, eye or ear problems, hernia, fracture, osteoporosis, overweight, or
pregnant. In fact, please check with your doctor to see if the inversion table would be safe for
you before giving it a try. Youre on your own! Be safe!

4. The Siren Method

Make the sound of a siren on the schwa sound, like the
a in the word above. Keep the volume at moderately
loud and produce the sound without unnecessary
physical effort.
Now run the pitch of the siren up and down, over and
over, going further up the scale each time without getting
louder, and without producing any extra tension in the
Now run a word or two up and down this siren pole of
sound, words like boy oh boy oh boy or onion onion
onion. Or try a consonant/vowel combo that is easy for
Once you find a consonant that is the easiest for you, work through all the vowels with it, e.g.
wee..way..wy..wo..wu or Toss the pitches and the syllables up the
magic sound pole without effort.
Try to keep all of the sound aimed at a small spot in the nose horn, which runs slightly above

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5 Ways to Master Your High Notes | VoiceCouncil Magazine

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the upper lip up to the forehead. Prevent the body of sound from growing any larger than the
original sound. Keep it all in the sweet spot. From here, high notes will be easy and will have
a clear, ringing tone, loaded with golden resonance. You may or may not feel a buzz in the
nose or forehead. Some singers do, some dont. Keep the tummy relaxed and avoid the
tendency to over support. If you can pretend to be a little sleepy, it works better. Pretending to
be somewhat bored will also work well.

5. Pulling on The Tongue

Grab the tongue and pull it straight out. Sing scales and
arpeggios in this manner giving the tongue a little extra
yank just as you get to the top and head back down the
scale, while still holding onto the tongue.
9-note scales work great for this and so do 1 octave
arpeggios, where the singer ascends on a major chord
and returns to tonic on a dominant 7th chord. The singer
can also hang the tongue out of the mouth and park it
comfortably just below the bottom lip line.
Practice the entire song in this manner until all of the
notes are freed and the process seems to be effortless.
When the throat is tired, the tongue has been working
overtime. The jaw and tongue will feel weary. Pulling the tongue out prevents it from being a
back seat driver for pitch and placement, and puts it to doing what tongues do best when it
comes to singingarticulating the text.
This technique combined with lip and tongue trills are excellent for relaxing the tongue, which
in turn will help restore a happy throat.

My Reaction to This Week's Singing Competition Entry

Jody Cooper - Here Comes the Rain Again
You have a very radio-friendly voice and this song is great for you. You
also have a great thing going with your arrangement and the way it builds.
Its a unique approach and very hypnotic. Try to provide more blank space
between your phrases, which means you will need to clip the ends of some phrases here and
there. Add some dramatic breaks in the middle of some of the lines. It will keep it from being so
legato or sing-songy. Try to feel the words more in front of the mouth on the lips and teeth. You

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5 Ways to Master Your High Notes | VoiceCouncil Magazine

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have a great voice so you can throw the song away more. In other words, avoid monitoring
yourselfthe pitches, the tone, the phrasing. Let it go and just sing! From time to time I pick up
that you are trying to be too careful. You got this! Own it more.

Why I chose Jody Cooper as a Finalist

I have chosen Jody Cooper to move on as a semifinalist in the Voice
Council Magazine Competition because I feel that he has a beautiful
hypnotic voice, full of heart, that keeps the listeners attention. He creates
a nice intimate vibe and has impressive musicianship. Jody has a lot of
star potential!

Ron Browning is internationally known as the Voice

Coach to the Stars. His clients include all levels of
singers from beginners to Grammy-winning celebrities in
all genres of music. Ron works with the major record
labels producing vocals and preparing artists for radio,
concert tours, and special television appearances. He is
a voting member of the Grammy Foundation and the
CMA Awards. Ron has been seen and heard on
Entertainment Tonight, The Voice, Oprah Network, and
BBCs Simply Classics, to name a few. He is a
successful songwriter, jazz pianist, painter, and is
currently writing a series of voice and performance
manuals, which will include interviews with many of his
students and celebrated clientele. His solo jazz piano CD, In a Sentimental Mood, is available
on iTunes and CD Baby.

| CD Baby

VoiceCouncil Magazine is commissioned by

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