Head and Chest Voice, Breathing

Posted in Category Lesson Q&A
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    Soo Pan Sum 3 years ago

    Hi! When I sing in head voice, my voice gets really small and quiet. How can I build stronger and louder head voice? But when I sing in higher notes using chest voice, I feel some pain in my throat.

    Another thing is when I sing some long exercises, for example, the day 13 long agility exercise, I don't have enough breath to sing the whole line. Am I using the wrong way to sing?

    Would appreciate any help!

  • C
    Camille van Niekerk 3 years ago
    Hi, Soo! First, just know that this is a very common issue! Head voice is often weaker, since it's untrained (and you use chest voice all the time when you speak). Here are a few tips:
    Head voice:

    1. Ensure good cord compression. Try exercises with an initial G or B sound for some secondary air resistance (which will help your cords stay together).

    2. Forward resonance: activate some forward resonance by first finding those pitches in a bright, strong NG (as in the end of the word "sing"), and slowly open to a vowel. 
    3. Breath support: in addition to the above, strong breath support will improve your power in head voice. See below for more notes on that. 
    Breath support:

    - Maintain good posture with the chest lifted and ribs expanded! (That's more important than anything else, because once your shoulders roll forward and your chest collapses, it's much harder to stay supported). 
    - Relax belly muscles for a low, relaxed (medium-sized) breath.
    - Engage those muscles (intercostals and lower abdominals) to keep the ribcage expanded - but know that you will lose some of that expansion as you use your air. We do want air flow, and we don't want "locked" muscles. Feel this action by breathing in and suspending (holding) the air for a second or two before exhaling. You can also feel the correct (gentle) muscle engagement by singing on a lip trill. 
    - If your posture and body are working well, but you're still running out of breath: be aware of extra air leaking through your vocal folds. If that's an issue, try singing with a slightly stronger, "clean" tone. If you can't do that yet, train firmer cord compression by using a warmup syllable like "GIHG" or "GUHG". 

    Chest / mix:

    As you ascend in chest voice, you'll want to use mixed coordination: incorporating some of the "lightness" and "brightness" of head voice into your chest sound. So although you're staying mostly in chest voice, you'll want to protect your voice and create more ease by lightening, nasalizing, and slightly thinning the sound - not letting your mouth spread wide and get "shouty", while also not "flipping" into light head voice. The NO exercise with a dropped jaw is good practice for this. 

    See here for instruction on mixed voice:




  • S
    Soo Pan Sum 3 years ago

    Thanks for the tips, Camille!

  • C
    Camille van Niekerk 3 years ago

    My pleasure!

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