Singing in head voice is one of the things that a vocal coach will teach you. Understanding and mastering the head voice is a must if you want to improve your singing skills. This is because it is the most used singing register and can often be found in most of the songs that we hear today.
What does head voice mean? How do you sing in it? Read this article to find out!
What is head voice?
You may have heard a lot of voice coaches talking about head voice, but do you fully understand what they mean by head voice?
Contrary to popular belief, the head voice is not the voice that comes from your head. The basic definition of the head voice is it is the upper register of your voice. It is called as such because you will feel as if the vibration is coming from your head when you sing at the highest register of your voice.
When singing a song, a lot of performers alternate singing in their chest and head voice. The best singers are those who can blend the registers or those who can switch from their head to chest voice and vice versa on command.
With a better understanding of your registers (including your head voice), you can determine what kind of sound you are producing based on your feeling alone. When you develop your head voice, you will be able to hit high notes without becoming breathing or straining your vocal cords.
Head Voice vs. Chest Voice
If the head voice is the upper register, the chest voice is the lower register. It is the lower, warmer, and thicker tones that we can produce.
Put your hands on your chest and sing in your normal speaking register. You will feel a vibration coming from there. If you have proper airflow, the sound that you will produce is one that doesn’t crack or waver.
Head Voice vs. Falsetto
A lot of people think that singing falsetto and singing in head voice are the same. Both use head tone (wherein the sound can be felt in the head and not the chest), but they two different things.
Head voice register is the register you use to produce light, airy, and high notes. To sing in it, you have to open your throat and use your larynx. Doing so creates vibrations.
On the other hand, falsetto is a mode of singing (not a register) wherein the singer sounds hollow, flutey, or breathy. Falsetto singing is achieved when the vocal folds are fully stretched. No vibrations are produced when you sing this way.
Famous singers who often use head voice
To have a better understanding of what head voice is, try to watch the performances of some professional artists. Some of the head voice singers today are Ariana Grande, Leona Lewis, and Beyonce.
How to sing louder in head voice
You may be wondering if everyone has it. The answer is, yes, all people do. The head voice is just prominent in sopranos because they use it often. But you will be surprised to know that even altos have it too. The good news is, you have the option to develop and strengthen it.
When you sing louder in your head voice, you will be able to sing in a louder and more powerful voice without straining your vocal cords. Below are some tips on how you can do that:
Yes, this may seem like an obvious tip, but we need to emphasize this one, especially if you want to sing in your head voice. With proper breathing, you will have the power to produce a note and maintain it for a more extended period or break it up or do whatever you want or need to do with it.
You can do this by inhaling deeply and holding it. Exhale. Make sure that you fill your lungs before you expel the air.
As you do this, focus on breathing from your diaphragm so you will have better control. Stand properly and place your finger over your belly button. Take your time. Feel your stomach rise every time you inhale. Also, feel the power you have when releasing the air through your mouth.
This tip is as easy as it sounds. Don’t overthink it. Just focus on breathing from your diaphragm and nothing else.
Maintain proper posture
This is another dead giveaway, we know. However, you must keep in mind that proper posture is vital to correct breathing. When you maintain proper posture, there will be abundant space in your chest cavity. As a result, your lungs can expand to its full potential. This simple change in your singing anatomy will allow you to hold high notes for longer.
With that in mind, how do you practice proper singing posture? Here are some tips:
- Stand straight and keep your body as relaxed as possible.
- Keep feet shoulder-width apart.
- Avoid lifting your shoulders. Keep it pushed down.
- Keep your chin parallel to the ground.
- Elevate your chest a bit.
One of the most common causes of vocal straining is tension, especially in your jaw and tongue. To avoid this, keep your body relaxed (but not slumped), especially in the area near your vocal cords.
I know you will agree with us when we say this—the tension of singers is more on the mental side than the physical side. Are we right? This is most especially true if you have a big performance coming up. However, you need to understand that staying relaxed is the best way to keep your voice firm, hit the right notes, sing correctly, and nail your performance.
With that in mind, we recommend that you get rid of all your thoughts and self-doubts. Instead, focus on hitting each note properly.
Find your head voice
Now that you are all geared up for singing, let’s get down to business! It’s about time that we identify your head voice. To do this, start by singing a comfortable note and move your way up to the highest possible note that you can sing without straining. However, avoid trying to hit high notes too quickly.
As you try to find your head voice, put your hand at the top back portion of your head. If you find this a bit uncomfortable, you can place it on the back of your neck instead.
As you sing higher, you will feel the vibrations switch from your neck to your head. When you get high, you will start to feel it at the back of your head. When you reach your head voice, you will be able to feel the sound that you produce at your hard palate (roof of your mouth).
Sing closed vowels
One tip to try when finding your head voice is to sing in closed vowels like ee instead of ah. This is because the sound you produce when singing closed vowels is lighter. The vibrations that it produces are also easier to feel.
Watch and learn from other singers
Do you know who the singers that have the same vocal range as you are? Listen to them sing. Every voice is different from one another. However, trying to learn from a singer with the same vocal range as you is already a step in the right direction. By identifying what pitch their head voice is in, it will be easier for you to narrow down the range that you should experiment with.
Additionally, listening to them will allow you to differentiate between head voice and chest voice as well as falsetto. Lastly, try to study when they pause or breathe or how they transition so you can follow their lead when playing with your head voice.
When you smile, your soft palate is heightened. As a result, the air can properly move around your head without the need for you to strain your vocal cords.
Keep on practicing
As they say, practice makes perfect. If you want to develop your head voice, practice practice practice! Don’t just practice aimlessly, though. Practice following the tips mentioned above. Moreover, perform exercises that can help you strengthen it.
Exercises to develop head voice
What are the head voice exercises? These are as follows:
Say, “Not by the hair of my chinny chinny chin chin.”
Once you have identified your head voice, one way to strengthen it is to use it as your speaking voice. When you can correctly pronounce words in your head voice while speaking, you can definitely sing in it!
One phrase that you should practice on is the “not by the hair of my chinny chinny chin chin.” Say this in your head voice repeatedly.
Sigh while yawning
This exercise may sound weird, but to simplify this—exaggerate your sigh. It’s that simple.
Hum the Letter M
This is a simple exercise. All that you need to do is hum the letter M with your mouth wide open. Your tongue must be resting at your upper jaw.
Head voice singing is difficult. However, it is not at all impossible. With the right techniques and regular practice, you can be able to develop your head voice. It may take time, but it can happen.
Understanding the differences between falsetto and head voice and chest voice and learning how and when to use these registers and techniques will certainly make you a better singer!