It’s crazy to me to look back on all the ways I used to try to reach hard-to-get-at notes all those years before I knew better. Even when I was gigging and people would remark how amazing my power notes were, I was thinking “oh yeah? THAT was a crap shoot! You and I are both just lucky they came out that way!”
The brain has an amazing way of trying anything to help you avoid embarrassment. And when it comes to singing difficult notes (that would be the ones you are not ‘mixing’ or vocally balancing on) your brain will pull out all the stops.
The Yank and Pull
Sometimes our brain will convince us that if we just pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and take a good running start we’ll eventually hit that note. And it works sometimes. but it also engages muscles that aren’t meant for singing that can cause anywhere from vocal strain to outright vocal damage requiring surgery if you do this over time. That’s no good.
Similar to the ‘running start’ train of thought, sometimes your brain will tell you to slide up to the note. This is actually a smarter move (thanks, brain!) but depending on how your voice is balancing on the notes in the slide, it can be unreliable at best; sometimes resulting in a flat top note or a sharp one. Close, but no cigar.
The Air Blast
God bless our brains. They mean well. Sometimes they want so desperately for us to hit that hard note that they’ll just ask us to airlift ourselves right on top of it. You’ll know if you’re doing this is every hard word/note has a little…or big ‘H’ at the front of it and/or it feels a bit gutless.
Can this get you there? Again, sometimes it can. But the problem is that without a balanced mixed voice
- you won’t be able to go anywhere with that note dynamically
- it will be incredibly hard to hold out for any impact and,
- sandblasting your tiny vocal folds (cords – same thing) has actually proven medically to be more damaging to your voice that screaming like a rocker.
So…..back to square one.
So how DO we get to the hard-to-sing notes without killing ourselves or our voices? The answer is with a balanced, mixed voice.
A healthy balanced voice that mixes proportions of both chest voice and head voice allows you to easily navigate through the vocal bridges (‘passagios’ for my jargon happy friends).
That means that you’ll sail by those notes that felt high or impossible as easy as a sailboat with a good breeze.
It really can happen – in ANY voice! Does it take time? Yes. How much? As much time as it takes you to learn anything; time to untrain the things you’ve believed that don’t work, time to build the muscle coordination to balance the voice and time to test drive it until it feels like your new normal. And that all just depends on two things, 1) good instruction, and 2) you!
Already working on it? In the next post, I’m going to give you some great tips on some very practical things you can do to make those hard notes easier as you’re developing your mix voice.