How to Hit High Notes Without Straining Your Voice

    Learn how to hit the high notes without straining your voice

    Every singer has been there. You're about to sing that lovely high note when suddenly you feel like the bottom has dropped out of your voice, and you start to crack like a 12-year-old boy.

    Vocal breaks like this are typical, especially on high notes. And regrettably, they can occur at any time, whether in your home studio after too many vocal takes or on stage in front of a large audience.

    Nevertheless, anyone can learn to hit the high notes without straining. It only requires some practice and the appropriate singing methods.

    You'll be surprised at how much your vocal range can grow if you can learn to reach those high notes without strain.

    In the article below, we'll discuss a few ways you can hit those high notes without straining your voice.

    Key Takeaways:

    • To sing a high note, you need to stretch your vocal cords out further.
    • Your vocal range is important as a singer.
    • There are various exercises that can help you hit the high notes without straining.

    Table of Contents:


    Where Do High Notes Come From?


    When we talk about singing high notes, we're talking about reaching a particular pitch.

    We can't control how high or low we sing, but we can change how much air pressure pushes against our vocal cords.

    High notes mean stretching our vocal cords. This allows us to reach higher pitches because the vocal cords vibrate faster.

    But there's one problem: Our vocal cords aren't elastic like rubber bands. They don't stretch very far, and they don't rebound easily. So what happens when we try to sing too high?

    Our vocal cords vibrate together slowly and make a lower tone.

    If we want to sing a higher note, we need to stretch our vocal cords out further. And the longer the cords are stretched, the faster they'll vibrate. This makes it possible to sing a higher note.

    The farther apart our vocal cords vibrate, the higher the note we can hit.


    The 3 Modes for Singing High Notes

    Let's talk about the different ways of hitting high notes.

    There are three modes for belting out high notes.

    You hit high notes using a: 

    • Chest Voice
    • Head voice
    • A mixture of head and chest voice, or a mixed voice


    Why is Vocal Range Important?

    Everyone's singing voice has a vocal range. Audiences are savvy and they can tell if you're straining outside of your comfortable range.

    Vocal range is the distance from your lowest to your highest pitch.

    This is how you determine what notes you can sing without straining yourself. Regardless of voice type, almost any vocalist can hit high notes.

    The fact that those notes sound good is what matters most, though.

    So, let's concentrate on making high notes comfortable before you think about whistle register or how to sing vibrato.

    Before we get into the meat of this article, a quick word of caution: Many people believe they must push themselves harder to reach those high notes.

    However, pushing those high notes is likely what's holding you back. So you're probably performing these exercises wrong if you experience any pain or strain during them.

    Now that we got that out of the way, here are a few ways to hit high notes without straining.

    minimize vocal strain when reaching for high notes

    Warm Up with a Song

    It's important to warm up your vocal muscles.

    Your voice is a muscle.

    It will gradually grow more flexible the more you stretch it, just like stretching before you exercise.

    If you consistently focus on stretching your vocal muscles, the muscles become accustomed to the stretching, and singing higher becomes simpler and more comfortable. 

    Singers often warm up their voices by humming or singing low notes.

    This helps prepare your vocal cords for singing high notes.

    Singing low notes first will help you reach those high notes without straining your throat.

    Try different songs to find one that works best for you. You might want to start slow and gradually increase the speed.

    This daily practice will work wonders for your singing voice.


    Facial Relaxation

    Some people think the best way to sing a high note is to go for it while widening their mouth and exhaling more air.

    That's not it.

    You won't achieve anything by hurting yourself. Even worse would be if your neck veins would pop out whenever you attempted a high note.

    Learn to relax your face and mouth before singing; this is a fantastic way to prevent injury.

    Put your thumbs on the fleshy area under your chin and both of your trigger fingers over your chin. To relax the muscles in this area, gently massage it.

    Do this several times while keeping your mouth and eyes as wide open and scrunched up as you can.

    Huge yawns and deep breaths are excellent for expanding the face and jaw.

    Stretch your neck and shoulders thoroughly; you likely carry a lot of stress in these areas that could interfere with your singing.


    The Lip Trill

    One of the best vocal range-expanding exercises is the lip trill. Almost anyone can accomplish this.

    The main benefit of lip trills is that they allow you to sing without straining from the bottom of your voice to the top.

    Even if you struggle to sing high notes, you can typically sing them with a lip trill.

    This is how to perform a lip trill:

    • Put two fingers in the center of your cheeks and vibrate your lips by blowing them together. As you blow air through the lips, you want them to bubble together uniformly.
    • Say the vowel "uh" behind the lips while the lips flop together to create some volume.
    • Next, choose a note that feels natural in your voice at the bottom (try C3 for men and G3 for women if you have a piano) and sing it while holding the "uh" vowel behind your lips.
    • Next, perform a siren by lip-trilling from a low note to a high tone and then back down.
    • Once you can smoothly transition from your lowest note to your highest note and back down, practice singing the lip trill from the bottom to the top of your voice.

    Don't worry if you hear a break or crack in the middle of your voice. No matter how it sounds, trying to just let the trill extend to the top of your voice is preferable.


    Keep Your Jaw Open

    femal singer with an open jaw for hitting a high note

    When striving to hit the high notes, most vocalists tend to close their jaws slightly.

    You should use caution when closing them, though, as doing so can mute your voice's volume, force, and tone.

    You'll have greater strength and loudness if you keep your jaw open to the end of the word.

    The best way to achieve this is to practice voice-building exercises.


    Take Deep Diaphragmatic Breaths

    The fundamental idea behind diaphragmatic breathing is to breathe more deeply and slowly to produce a clearer sound while releasing tension.

    Lack of airflow will cause you to strain your tongue, throat, jaw, and other oral muscles to get the sound out.

    You'll feel more tension as you sing higher.

    It takes more breath support for higher notes.


    Humming Exercises

    Humming is an additional vocal range-improvement exercise.

    You can easily strengthen a weak voice by humming.

    At first, it might seem absurd or unusual, but it's one of the greatest and simplest ways to hone your vocal abilities and warm up your vocal cords.

    When practicing, keep your mouth closed and your tongue and jaw relaxed by placing the tip of your tongue below your bottom teeth.

    The trick is to practice for 5 to 10 minutes a day while making the "nnnn" or "mmmm" sound, focusing on the one that produces a broader, deeper, and warmer tone of voice.


    The "ooh" Vocal Siren

    Let's sing a vowel you might hear in a song now that you've warmed up with the lip trill.

    The "ooh" vowel allows you to reach the highest notes in your voice without exertion, making the "ooh" vocal siren an excellent workout.

    The vowel "ooh" might work wonders for you if your vocal cords are a little strained on those upper notes because it relaxes them.

    The "ooh" vocal siren should sound like this:

    • Start by uttering the vowel "ooh" as if you were going to say "Oops."
    • Find a pitch in your voice that feels comfortable to start on (again, if you have a piano, try C3 for males and G3 for women) and sing the note with an "ooh" sound, as if you were saying "oops."
    • Perform a vocal siren by singing the "ooh" vowel on your highest note, your lowest note, and then your highest tone again.
    • Finally, try to sing the "ooh" siren smoothly and without breaking or straining your voice.


    The "ee" Vocal Siren

    We'll focus on finding the appropriate vocal tone for singing now that you've identified your highest notes on the "ooh" vowel.

    The "ee" vowel is quite similar to the "ooh," but it has a little more edge, which makes it sound cleaner.

    How to perform the vocal siren with an "ee."

    • Start by articulating the vowel "ee" as you would the word "eat."
    • Then, sing the "ee" vowel on that note as if you were saying "eeeeeeeeat," finding a comfortable beginning pitch at the bottom of your voice.
    • Next, sing a vocal siren by going from your lowest note to your highest note and then returning to your lowest tone on the vowel "ee."
    • Once you feel confident performing this vocal siren, try to reach the peak without straining or breaking.

    Do not continue if you have any pain.


    Eliminate Tongue Tension

    Singers can tense up their voices in a variety of ways. Most of the time, people do it without even realizing it.

    Let's ensure you're not straining to reach those high notes now that you've warmed up on the oohs and ees.

    When singing various notes, singers frequently strain by raising or lowering their tongues.

    However, if the tongue is positioned incorrectly for what you're singing, the pressure might make you sound highly constricted and compressed.

    Your tongue can pick up on this muscular tension.

    Do this:

    • Place your thumb under your chin and feel there softly.
    • You should position your thumb immediately underneath your tongue.
    • Swallow while holding your thumb in place.

    Here is a little practice to help you sing without clenching your tongue:

    • Take a line from a song that's been causing you trouble. Do the "ooh" or "ee" vocal siren if you're having trouble coming up with a song.
    • Now, Put your thumb under your chin.
    • Sing the line while holding your thumb in place, checking for tongue tightness.
    • Try singing the sentence again without tensing the muscles beneath your chin if you notice that some of the tongue muscles are pressing against your thumb.
    • If you're still feeling tense, try visualizing that all of the muscles in your face are paralyzed by a block of ice.
    • Then, repeat the phrase while maintaining a frozen state throughout your body.


    The "Nay"

    The truth is that singing lyrics is much more difficult than singing exercises.

    This is so that you can deal with diverse notes, vowels, consonants, and dynamics when singing lyrics. And to get those high notes, your voice occasionally needs a little more support.

    Vocal exercises are one of the best ways to improve the phrase you're trying to sing.

    Here is one of my favorite exercises for powerfully singing those challenging notes in a phrase.

    How to say the sassy "Nay" is as follows:

    • Pick a song that has been challenging for you to sing.
    • Say "Nay" (as in "neighbor") now in a "bratty" manner.
    • Then, while singing the melody of the sentence, substitute a brattish "Nay" for each word.


    Attend an Accredited Music College

    What comes next now that you've learned new vocal techniques and know how to sing those high notes without straining?

    If you're enthusiastic about your craft and picture yourself as a professional singer, you can use this knowledge to establish a lucrative singing career in the music business.

    But how do you start?

    One of the best things you can do to become a professional and well-compensated singer is to enroll in an accredited music college like the Atlanta Institute of Music and Media.

    AIMM has two programs with a vocal concentration that will help you expand your range, perfect your pitch, and completely master your singing abilities.

    The Performance Certificate in Vocals is ideal if your main goal is to improve your singing and performance talents.

    On the other hand, our Vocal Degree gives you an additional skill boost by teaching you how to track, mix, and master music like your favorite professionals.

    This is a unique music degree that combines everything you need to know about becoming a professional singer with the best music production techniques.

    So, what are you waiting for? Put yourself in the best position to become a professional singer!

    Click below to begin your enrollment at AIMM today.

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