Singing high notes and strengthening the low vocal ranges usually causes a needless panic reaction with singers. I love to share my experiences with you and this is already my habit I talk in this article about singing extreme remote sounds. Extreme? Why didn’t I use the term: singing high notes and strengthening the low vowel ranges?
The wrong access to solve problems like singing wide spans (especially branches) occur from the early learning of the solmization syllables. The coach often overlooks giving important instructions for correcting the posture when indicating with the hand.
The singers follow the hand and accordant with the moment when they sing high notes and low vocal range they raise and lower the head which is an intolerable mistake from the view of vocal technique. Later the problem becomes worse when they are introduced to the note material because the tools of classic note writing broadens the melody in extreme so additional note lines for staves are necessary.
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A vertical image of the note sequence causes a reflective adjustment of the vocal body which consequently makes problems with performing the correct vocal technique. All singers come across the problem of raising the shoulders and pressing in the area of the throat (singing high notes) and with the problem of stretching the neck and lowering the head (singing low notes). You always come across with the complicated vocal expression.
Correct singing of high notes or so to say low tones is performed in that way that the vocal body in the part of the head is not allowed to move freely in vertical direction or nodding because so the stability of the air pillar would be endangered.
If you address to the real view of the situation you will find out that the change of the tone is in actual fact a consequence of thinning or concentrating the sonic waves. So the imagination of the tone c3, which flees somewhere to the attic and the imagination of the small c which hides in the cellar is totally needless.
Let’s do not take advantage of the fictive benefit of vertical body motion. When exercising difficult musical sequences you get used to lean on the horizontal air support because it activates the appropriate body support. For singing is every pressing in the area of the throat unnecessary and enables the air that the vocal body needs urgently passing for producing sound. We could say that for a successful singing transition over melodic challenging moment three rules – add air, at the same time move the throat away and relax the throat and catch the appropriate mental imagination.
There are not more high or low notes that are more or less supported by body and air. The power of air support is adjusted to the distance from the middle of tonality. The more the tones are remote the wider you open your hands and palms so you add more air support. At the same time lower the throat, relax the neck, shoulders and the whole body. When coming through larger melodic branches you can help yourself additionally in that way where during singing the emphasis of the phrase is moved directly from the problematic branch some periods ahead. So you gain additional wind in the sails that carries through the whole branch.
Take a break and listen to an example from my working field with Minutiae Ensemble…
The work with singers enabled me that I could research the psychological effect of the inverted singing line many times. I used the method where the singers inverted the upwards directed singing phrase with a wide (octave) branch and sang the whole line in reversed direction (stepping like crabs back for an octave branch downwards). In all examples I found out that there do not occur many problems when singing high notes when they do not seem like an endless flight to the sky. Therefor mental imagination is recommended like for example sailing over an upcoming wave.
Let’s imagine mentally a scene from the film Cast Away. The performance of the singing phrase could be similar to the sailing of a cast away who wants to leave the island. He has to manage the task of overcoming huge striking waves. While sailing on the calm sea surface you can relax totally. Relaxed and calm performing enables especially lying tones, minimal steps and slight branches. Preparing the vocal body as much as you can, relax the body. There follows a wave striking and preparing to interval branch. When sailing on the wave, there is not enough space and time for thinking because you lose control of the happening. Therefor only relax the sails and the strength of the wind takes you over the wave. Now just only let loose and sail over the reef, sail for a moment and after that only enjoy in a safe cruising the wave downwards. In the phase of passing the reef, that we can compare with passing the branch, catch the feeling of stability in the legs most of all till the extreme relaxing the throat and the neck.
Sometimes we mix up the mental imagination with carrying out the concrete example in the note material. I suggest to do the exercise where the octave branch up is continued from the tone of the same tone level (octave lower). The same is valid for interval branches of minor extent.
Additional exercises for widening the extent:
By the way…
Perhaps you have believed that clarinet players lift their instruments at high passages due to tone’s height. This is not true. In certain moments they lift the clarinet mainly because of image and to get more attention.
Have you ask yourself about singing warm-up, correct singing breathing, vowels and consonants articulation, posture and expression, polyphonic singing, vocal range (singing high and low notes) or about complete song preparing? Check out my education content The Basics of Vocal Technique.
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