How to Sing in Head Voice (2020 Guide)🥇
Singing in head voice is among one of the most important aspects of singing that a vocal coach will teach you.
If you’re looking to boose your singing abilities and increase your vocal range, understanding and mastering singing in head voice will most certainly help.
Head voice is predominantly used within contemporary music, hence why it’s becoming a more popular skillset for singers to have and show off within their performances.
However, what exactly is head voice? How do you sing in head voice? And how do you improve your singing in head voice?
We’ll be discussing all of these questions within this article.
What is Head Voice?
The term head voice is thrown around quite a lot, whether you hear the judges talking about it on The Voice, or a singer talking about in their ‘behind the scenes studio VLOG’ for recording their latest album.
However, what does it mean?
Head voice is simply the upper register of your voice, which can be differentiated against chest voice, as the resonance of the sound comes more from the head/mouth rather than the chest area.
It can be further differentiated against ‘falsetto’ which has a much lighter, almost angelic sound, which is produced by the ligamentous edges of the vocal cords, in whole or in part.
When singing any song, a vocalist will have to switch between their chest, head, and falsetto ranges. This can be difficult for beginner singers, as the vocal timbre of each vocal range can be apparent.
That’s where vocal exercises and coaching really helps to train the voice, in order to effortlessly switch between the registers, without vocal breaks and providing a smooth, consistent vocal texture.
Although we’ve briefly talked about what head voice is, let’s further discuss the difference between the other vocal registers, and how exactly it compares (soundwise)
Head Voice Vs Chest Voice
The head voice consists of notes that fall within the upper vocal register, and this varies depending on if you’re male or female. These notes have a smaller wavelength and therefore a higher pitch frequency.
In order to sing these higher notes, the vocal folds have the thin, whilst still maintaining contact with each other, under increasing intra-abdominal pressure from airflow that is required to be able to sing the note.
Chest voice is the opposite, falling within the lower vocal register. These notes have larger wavelengths and therefore a lower pitch frequency.
In order for the sound to oscillate properly, the vocal cords have to thicken, whilst in contact with each other in addition to their being an adequate amount of airflow.
The video below also goes into depth about how to differentiate between head and chest voice, and further into the mechanisms behind how these registers work.
Head Voice Vs Falsetto
Falsetto is another register that is heavily misunderstood and often mistaken for head voice.
From a mechanical perspective, Falsetto occurs when the vocal folds are stretched and fold up, not coming together with any level of compression like they do with head voice.
This is why falsetto sounds extremely light and breathy.
You can hear an example of the difference between head voice and falsetto in the video that we’ve included directly below:
Singers Who Use Head Voice
As we mentioned before, head voice is extremely prevailant in modern pop music, and so there are singers like Adam Lambert, David Cook, Ariana Grande, Kelly Clarkson, Beyonce, etc who use it regularly in their live and studio performances.
How to Sing Properly in Head Voice
Whether you’re male or female, a tenor, baritone, alto, or soprano, everyone has a “head voice”, and anyone can further develop it.
However, by learning how to strengthen your head voice, you can begin to sing with more power and passion, without worrying about potential vocal breaks or cracks.
This is every singer’s dream, to get to the point where they don’t have to worry about the notes, but instead, they can enjoy the moment and deliver a stunning performance.
Now although you’d be wise to use an online singing program like 30-Day Singer to learn how to properly sing in head voice, and they’re currently providing a 14-Day Free Trial for new users, we’re going to provide some tricks and tips below anyway:
Breath and Airflow
Without good airflow and breath control, a singer is going to struggle with phrasing, pitch and have issues with throat tension.
Therefore, with that being said, breathing properly, I.E from the diaphragm, will ensure that you have the power to hit and sustain those higher notes within your head-voice register.
To do this, you need to make sure that you’re concentrating on inhaling a good amount of air, using the abdominal muscles to help engage the diaphragm.
Once you get used to breathing in this way, you’ll begin to do it automatically.
Posture is extremely important
This ties in well with the previous point about good airflow and breath control. Posture is important in helping you create good habits when it comes to singing, especially relating to your diaphragmic breathing.
With that being said, good posture will open up the chest, to allow more room for your lungs to expand, which ultimately will help with power, phrasing, and strain management.
How do you sing with the correct posture, lets discuss it more below:
- Stand straight whilst not tensing, although no slouching
- Keep your feet shoulders-width apart
- Keep your shoulders back
- Keep your chin at about 90 degrees to your body (with minimal throat tension)
One of the most difficult parts about singing high notes is that it demands more airflow, and this increase in pressure requires that your vocal cords can stay “connected” under that pressure.
This will lead most singers to strain their jaw, tongue and throat, creating tension, to try and maintain the note under that pressure, but as counter-intuitive as it sounds, this is the worst thing that you can do, and will only lead to creating more issues with your singing.
Eliminating throat strain is key here, so that you can begin to use your abdominal muscles and diaphragm to push the notes out.
So before belting out your next high note, try singing lightly to begin with, create that muscle memory and get your foundations right.
Find your head voice
We can talk a lot about the differences between chest and head voice, but experiencing it yourself will provide you with a true understanding of what it feels like.
To do this, you can place one hand on your chest, and the other hand gently on your throat. Start singing a low pitch and you’ll feel the vibrations coming from your chest, as you begin to sing higher, you’ll feel the shift of vibrations move up to your throat.
This is the key shift between chest and head voice.
Emulate other singers
The key to learning is to learn the fundamental knowledge and then experience and learn from others. In this case, it’s watching other singers who have a similar voice and range, and then trying to emulate them.
If you can find live performances that’s even better, because you can look at their posture, see if they have throat tension and if they’re lowering their tongue when singing high notes (the tongue often gets in the way).
Singing Closed Vowels
Another way to experience singing in your head voice is to sing closed vowels, like ee’s instead of aah’s. This locks the resonating sound in your mouth/head instead of the resolution being in your chest.
Smile (a little)
When smiling your soft palette is lifted or heightened, which means that more airflow can get around your head, creating a fuller sound and helping eliminate the need for straining your vocal cords.
Practice makes perfect
As with anything in life, the more you practice and experiment, the more practical understanding and experience you derive.
Therefore, practice singing in head voice everyday, starting from chest, leading through to head voice and back again.
Exercises to establish head voice
There are several vocal exercises that you can do to discover, develop, and improve your head voice, these are as follows (all demonstrated in the video below):
- Sing and sustain an ‘Ahh’ sound in your upper vocal register, choose one note and sing it very lightly, then increase the volume (intensity) whilst minimizing tension.
Singing in head voice is difficult, because if you think about it, when we talk regularly, we’re in our chest voice, and so we rarely use our head voice in everyday life, hence it’s just not as well developed as our chest voice.
However, with time, perseverance and most importantly, a well-devised strategy/program, you’ll be able to further develop your head voice.
As we suggested before, it’s crucial that you either have private lessons or online lessons, and we highly suggest 30-Day Singer, who currently provide a 14-Day Free Trial for new users.