Today I’m going to give you three easy hacks to stop cracking in your high voice. These are techniques that I work on with my students every single week in their voice lessons and they work. So by the end of this article, you’re going to have three new tools to get you up into that head voice and get you singing high notes better than ever before.
#1 – Finding your naturally open mouth
The first hack is finding your naturally open mouth. A lot of times people come into my studio and they’re singing tight lipped all the time. You couldn’t even hear me speak, right? So how the heck are you supposed to hear me sing in my head voice if my mouth is closed?
So look up at the sky or at your ceiling. Now open up your mouth, let your jaw just release. Now bring it down – that’s your natural open position. That’s pretty much how open my mouth looks when I’m singing in my head voice. If you’re going up in pitch and your mouth is getting more closed, that is definitely a reason why you are cracking. Practice in front of a mirror, see what your mouth is doing. This is a great way to practice. You don’t have to do it all the time, but sometimes it really gives you a bird’s-eye eye view of what’s going on with your mouth, that you don’t normally notice.
#2 – Use a high speaky voice to find the pitch first.
For women, I’m going to use the C above middle C. For men, I’m going to use middle C. I don’t want to say it’s an awkward note in everybody’s voice, but it’s definitely that note that a lot of people are transition registers on. That’s like things usually switch or for men, you may be already switched or you’re about to switch. So for women this is probably your first note in your head voice, unless you are a high soprano. In that case, you may be transitioned at D.
Now follow the note and say “Hi”
Do you notice that as soon as I go “Hi” everything lifts up, even my body. You know what else is lifting up – my soft palate. That is where we’re getting the space from in our mouth. Unfortunately there is such a thing as having your mouth too open. I’m sure some people fall into that camp as well and I find myself there sometimes. So just make sure that when you’re opening your mouth, it’s the natural open we found in the last exercise. Pitch the note in your speaking voice. Our speaking voice and our singing voice are so similar and one can inform the other as well. So if it’s easy to speak, it will probably be easy to sing as long as you keep the breath going.
#3 – Use bubble lips on slides to get you up to your higher voice.
What does that mean? First of all with bubble lips, I’m using air to vibrate my lips together. If you’re having a hard time doing it, it might take a little bit of practice at first, but this is going to be a game changer in your singing because I do this all the time when I’m learning new pieces and just when I’m warming up to. So if you’re having a hard time gathering your lips together helps a little bit, or you can also do a tongue trill.
You definitely want to work towards being able to do the bubble lips. I’m just saying like, when you’re trying to fall asleep at night, it works. I know you’re thinking that’s not going to work. It’s not going to happen for me. It’s going to happen for you. Just keep working on it. The tongue roll is actually harder. So if you can do the tongue roll and not the bubble lips, I’m impressed.
I’m going to suggest slides on fifths because a fifth is a big enough jump that you can feel yourself going into higher register without doing like an octave, which is a lot more drastic, a third too close. So definitely stick with a fifth. You always want to work into your head voice, right? You don’t want to just like pop into it and you don’t want to do it as the first exercise of your warmups. So if you’re just trying to warm up right now, I would advise to do some of the breathing exercises.
So I’m going to start on D right above middle C. And I’m going up to an A and men, you’re obviously going to be an octave lower. When you’re on your way up, I want you to imagine that you are touching every single one of those notes. That’s what’s going to help you with this slide.
It’s something about that slide with the bubble lips. The fact that we’re keeping them vibrating means that our air is still coming. So, we know that and we also think that was so easy because there was no way for you to apply any pressure down here, which is also a big reason that people crack.
That my friends is how you transition into head voice. You have to give yourself crutches. Okay? So these are tools. You’re not going to perform with these obviously. But the important thing is, is that you’re practicing with the right technique so that when you go to your open mic, when you go to your performance, when you go to your competition, your body remembers how you practice because practice makes permanent. You want to make sure you are completely aware of what you are doing while you warm up and while you work on your song.
I’m going to add a little bonus tip in here. I do not think it’s a good idea to warm up your voice while you are listening to somebody else sing a recording of a song. It’s fine if you’re doing warmups, but when you listen to somebody else sing a full song, and that’s how you’re warming up your voice. you’re training yourself to mimic that sound, especially when you go into a higher voice. When you mimic a sound, you manipulate your own sound. Your sound is what makes you special, so manipulating sound is another reason for voice cracks. These exercises help you to be true to your sound, which is what we want because nobody else sounds like you do.