Your singing voice is complex. It is made up of various processes, techniques, and skills. Learning how to sing falsetto is a great way to expand your ability, and allow yourself to access notes that before seemed out of reach.
Straining to hit high notes is one of the major causes of vocal cord damage. If a singer consistently pushed their voice too far, this will cause their vocal range to reduce over time.
In this guide, I’ll explain how you can quickly learn to sing falsetto. This will unlock vocal abilities that up until now, you’ve been unaware that you are capable of developing.
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What is Falsetto?
The term falsetto originates from classical music and is used to describe the upper range of a singer’s voice. Both male and female singers can sing falsetto, in addition to their head voice and chest voice.
In popular music, falsetto is a common technique used across many genres. It’s a stape of R n’ B, soul, and pop music. The gentle timbre of falsetto makes it perfectly suited to intimate, gentle styles of singing.
If you’re a relatively experienced vocalist, the chances are you’ve sung in falsetto many times before, even if you haven’t noticed. When we attempt a note that is high up in our vocal range, we tend to naturally move into falsetto, to avoid straining our full voice.
Singing in falsetto is easy to do, but mastering it requires focused and dedicated practice over a prolonged period. The following tips and methods will help you to develop this singing technique so that you can widen your ability and become a more accomplished vocalist.
Our singing voice is produced by the vocal cords. There are two main muscle groups that either causes the vocal cords to shorten, or stretch out and lengthen. This is what allows us to produce low and high notes when singing.
In the same way that the strings on a guitar cause different pitches when they are shortened by pressing them onto the frets with your fingers, the pitch of your voice is changed as a result of the shortening or lengthening of your vocal cords.
To produce notes that are in the low register of your vocal range, the vocal cords must be tightened. For falsetto, the vocal cords need to be made thinner and longer, as this produces the high-pitched, effortless tone associated with this technique.
So then, the first step to learning how to sing falsetto is to become aware of the different parts of your voice.
- Start by singing a low note that is comfortably within your vocal range. Pay attention to the way your vocal cords feel when producing this note.
- Gradually move up to a higher note, until you feel that more effort is required to produce the note
- Then, release the tension and glide into the thinner falsetto range where the tone becomes softer and the sound becomes more breathy
There’s a distinctive difference in the tone of falsetto and the way it feels. Practice moving between your chest and head voice, and your falsetto voice until you’re aware of the difference between them.
Easy Does It
The key to learning how to sing falsetto is to remain relaxed. You can use the following exercise to prepare your body and vocal cords for falsetto. The more awareness you bring to the process, the easier it will become.
Consciously relax your tongue, jaw, shoulders, and neck muscles individually. If you notice any tension in your upper body, focus on releasing it, and allowing the muscles to naturally relax.
Then, take a deep breath in through your nose, and feel it filling your lungs, expanding your diaphragm and stomach. Hold the breath for three seconds, then slowly let it escape through a small gap in your lips.
Repeat this for a series of ten breaths. This exercise will leave your body feeling completely at ease, which is the optimal state for singing falsetto.
If you’re tense, you’ll find yourself straining to reach the high notes rather than allowing your falsetto voice to produce them with minimal effort. This will improve your tone and protect your vocal cords in the long term.
Once you’ve completed the ten conscious breaths, repeat this exercise but this time you’re going to produce a falsetto note and hold it for the duration of your exhale. Don’t worry if you find this difficult at first – it gets easier each time you do it!
When your lungs are full of air and your stomach and diaphragm muscles become engaged, gently release the breath by singing a high note, while putting in minimum effort.
If you attempt to push out the note, you’re likely using your chest voice rather than falsetto.
The more you relax when singing the high note, the more likely it is that you can maintain the falsetto technique for the full duration of your exhale.
At this stage, there’s no need to be overly concerned with your pitch. Provided the note you sing is high enough for your falsetto voice, you should simply focus on sustaining it throughout the exhale.
Take short intervals between each round of the exercise, so that you don’t become light-headed due to the increased intake of oxygen.
Using Vocal Sounds
Once you’ve grasped the difference between your chest, head, and falsetto voices using the previous exercises, it’s now time to experiment with different vocal sounds.
The sound that you sing impacts the tone and style of your voice dramatically. Each sound causes your throat and tongue to shift into different shapes and positions, which then affects the way your vocal cords and diaphragm are engaged.
The easiest sound for singing falsetto is “woo”. If you imagine the collective noise a crowd makes when a band has finished their song, this is the sound that you’re aiming for.
Using the high note that you chose in the previous breathing exercise, experiment by singing “woo” in this pitch. Notice how your voice sounds soft, and thinner in texture compared to the sound of attempting to belt out a high note.
Then, try to sing that same note in your falsetto voice, but experiment with the sound that you use. For example, you could try:
Each sound requires your falsetto voice to be used in a slightly different way. Consistently practicing this exercise will prepare you for singing different styles of falsetto, so that you’re not limited to one or two sounds.
This will make it easier for you to attempt songs that perhaps seem beyond your current vocal ability.
Recording & Reviewing
One of the many benefits of modern technology is the ability to record our singing practices to review our abilities. If you’ve got a smartphone, or even better, access to a microphone and recording software, you can use the following exercise to develop your falsetto voice.
For this exercise, you’ll need to choose a song that predominantly features falsetto. There are so many great options to choose from, and if you’re unsure, a quick search on the internet will present you with plenty of options.
It’s preferable to choose a song that you’re familiar with so that you don’t need to spend time learning the melody and lyrics. Once you’ve found the ideal falsetto-style song, you’re going to record your initial attempt at singing it.
The key is to focus on the moments in the song where your voice transitions from head or chest to falsetto. Transitioning is the most difficult aspect of singing falsetto, and it requires the most attention.
Once you’ve recorded a full take of the cover song, listen back with a pen and some paper, or the notes app on your phone. Write down any positive points or criticisms of your performance, being completely honest with yourself.
Then, go back through the song to the parts that you felt needed improving. Perhaps you failed to hit the high falsetto note in the second chorus, or your transition between chest voice and falsetto in the first verse sounded weak.
Repeat the recording while referring to your original notes. Is the tone of your falsetto too soft? Are there certain notes that sound too low for your falsetto range?
The more you review and repeat, the more awareness you will gain over your vocal ability. This will allow you to keep improving your falsetto voice consistently over the following days, weeks, and months.
Learning how to sing falsetto can seem like a daunting task if you’re attempting it for the first time. It’s the same as learning to play an instrument or any other practical skill for that matter.
Developing a practice routine that you repeat each day is the key to improving your falsetto voice. Be bold, and challenge yourself to break out of your vocal comfort zone. You’ll be reaping the rewards in no time!