Learning how to sing in head voice allows you to reach higher notes without straining your vocal cords. This technique is fairly easy to perfect provided you follow certain protocols and practices.
As with all vocal techniques, singing in head voice requires consistent dedication and attention to detail. In this comprehensive guide, I’ll show you exactly how to develop the necessary skills to help your head voice reach its fullest potential.
Table of Contents
Feeling Your Head Voice
The first thing that is required of you is to identify your head voice by paying attention to how it feels. An easy way to do this is by positioning the palm of your hand on your crown.
Then, produce a single note that resides in a comfortable place within your vocal range. Notice how the vibrations travel through your head and into your hand when you do this. Gradually raise the pitch of the note, until you feel the vibrations more prominently in your head.
You’ll notice that when you are singing in your chest voice, the vibrations don’t feel particularly strong on your crown. However, when you move into your head voice, you will feel a substantial increase.
You can compare this to the feeling that you get when you place your hand on your chest and sing in a lower register. When you do this, there will be plenty of vibration traveling through your chest and throat.
Distinguishing between your chest and head voice is the first vital step towards learning to use your vocal range effectively. Once you feel confident that you can tell the difference it’s time to move onto the specific exercises which will improve your ability to sing in head voice.
Step 1 – Controlling Your Breath
The head voice is unique, due to the lack of force and effort that is required to produce notes in your higher vocal register. Breathing is integral for all singing styles, but especially so for singing in head voice.
The following breathing exercise will train you to control the inward and outward flow of air that is required to sing this technique. Get comfortable, erect your spine, and try to feel as relaxed as possible.
Start by inhaling a deep breath, counting to four, and then exhaling for five seconds. Then, hold your breath for three seconds on the exhale, before inhaling for another four seconds.
Repeat this for three rounds, and you will notice that your vocal muscles, diaphragm, and the rest of your body start to feel more tranquil. For the next three rounds, increase the length of your inhale to five seconds, exhale for six seconds, and hold your breath for four seconds.
After three rounds of this, increase the inhale time to six seconds, exhale for seven seconds, and hold it for four seconds again. You’ll probably start to feel very relaxed and now you are in the perfect state to explore your head voice.
Although breathing exercises may not seem directly linked with singing, this is simply a misconception. Learning to breathe correctly using the method I just suggested will form the foundation for your singing techniques to be built upon.
Step 2 – Easing into It
Breathing and having the correct posture are the first two foundational steps for developing your head voice. The next important is ensuring that your body, and in particular the area around your vocal cords is completely relaxed.
Straining your vocal cords will result in accumulative damage over time. Singing in head voice should feel smooth, and there should be no resistance around your diaphragm, chest, neck, and face.
A good method for keeping these areas of your body relaxed is by simply raising your shoulders towards your ears, and gently allowing them to drop back down. You can do this a few times, inhaling as you lift and exhaling as you release the tension.
This simple step will allow any resistance, whether it be physical or mental, to be alleviated each time you relax your shoulder and neck muscles. Now, you’re prepared to start to use your head voice.
Step 3 – Use Your Speaking Voice
Generally, the pitch and timbre of a person’s everyday speaking voice are directly related to their vocal range and singing style. To develop your head voice initially, it is very helpful to experiment with the tone of your voice when speaking.
Before you attempt to sing in head voice, try simply speaking in it. You don’t need another person to be present to do this, but if they are, explain what you’re doing beforehand so they don’t become confused by your vocal experimentation!
Find a book or some form of writing that you can read out loud. Start by reading it in your natural speaking voice, and then focus on transitioning into your head voice. You’ll feel more vibrations passing through your face, especially the nasal area.
Try to maintain talking in your head voice while you read a few pages. You should aim to stay in your head voice at all times, and if you naturally slip back into your habitual tone of speaking, restart in your head voice until you master the technique.
This practice will help you to associate the sensations in your vocal cords and muscles with the sound of your head voice. Talking puts very little strain on these muscles, therefore it’s the perfect way to learn initially.
Step 4 – Imitate Other Singers
When I first started singing in a band, I struggled to find my own, unique style. I received an invaluable piece of advice from an established vocalist, which I found to be incredibly helpful.
He advised me to choose a few of my favorite singers and to learn the lyrics to some of their songs. Then, he said I should set up a microphone, and record myself singing along, trying my best to imitate everything about their vocal style.
Being someone who values authenticity, I was originally skeptical. However, he explained that by imitating the style of other singers, I would not merely end up sounding exactly like them.
Rather, I would produce tones that were similar to their voice in places, but my natural tone and pronunciation would cause a unique blend that I could build my style upon.
I’d encourage you to choose some songs that feature a lot of head voice singing. If you can’t identify it very well, you can find plenty of resources online about various examples of singers using their head voice in recordings.
Set up a microphone if you have one, if you don’t, you can use the voice recorder app on your phone or tablet. Then, once you’ve learned all of the parts of the songs that are sung in head voice, try to imitate it to the best of your ability, and record yourself doing so.
You can then listen back and analyze how your head voice sounds in comparison to the original recording. Make notes of any areas that could be improved, such as the pronunciation of certain words, or transitions between notes.
One final thing to be aware of is that your head voice and falsetto are two different things. These two vocal styles are often grouped, so it’s important to differentiate between how they both feel and sound.
Using the methods in this guide, and with consistent practice, you’ll develop your head voice in a very short time!