Naomi Bignell is The Voice Club’s European Managing Instructor. She specialises in pop, classical, broadway, standards and contemporary worship. Naomi teaches on the Basic and Advanced training programs and offers sessions in the Vocal Repair Clinic. In addition to teaching at The Voice Club, Naomi is a professional voice talent and singer/songwriter.

You’re singing your favourite song or classical aria. It’s going fine, until you reach that tricky part – you know, the part with the high power note. You know it’s coming, so you try to prepare for it. So you tense up, eyebrows knitted, butt squeezed, white knuckles… you open your mouth and…. well, it’s not pretty. So what went wrong?
The problem is that when you sing a song, whether you’re reading from sheet music or not,  your brain tells you to visualise where the notes are – so you get used to thinking of notes as hard (high or low) or easy (mid range). This is especially problematic if you read music, as it’s likely you’re running through the staves in your head as you sing.
But the thing is… high notes aren’t really high. Let me explain. Your vocal cords, those tiny pieces of tissue inside your larynx, are controlled by 6 groups of muscles which move and interchange in order to resist the air flowing up your windpipe, which then resonates in your head and chest to create sound. Your voice does this naturally all the time during speech, without you once thinking “I wonder how I’ll ever be able to speak that high?”. The trouble is, your brain has you convinced that speaking and singing are different processes, when they’re really the same. Because your brain tells you that singing is “hard”, it tries to help you reach certain notes by adding physical tension habits. This contributes to your feeling that the note is “hard”, so your brain adds more physical tension habits, and the cycle continues…
The reality is that the only muscles which need to be involved for you to create sound in speech or song are the muscles within your larynx – not your neck, back, shoulders, or butt!
So what’s the solution? In order to really tackle your tension habits, you need to get with a qualified vocal instructor. In the meantime, why not start taking notice of how you use your voice in speech – how many times you hit notes in speech which you’d think were impossible in song. For more tips on reaching the high note, check out our ‘How to Sing’ series on YouTube, and email us if you have a song you’d like us to feature!
To check out our training options click here or email Naomi to ask a specific question about your voice.

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