In my previous article I touched upon the low notes, and in this article I want to focus a bit more on singing high notes. It doesn't take a genius to know that a singer's biggest problem, at least from a vocal standpoint, is singing high notes. Therefore, we will be most concerned about extending your range upward. As you free your upper range, your lower range will also increase because, when your outer muscles are relaxed in the vibration process, they allow your larynx, thus your vocal cords, to relax as well.
Now let’s take a closer look at the passage areas of your range. As you sing higher into your range, you quickly encounter areas where muscular and/or resonance activity, make it difficult to negotiate smooth transitions between vocal cord adjustments. Most singers know these areas all too well. They are places where the voice jams up, suddenly shifts in quality, or even breaks—things that can discourage someone from ever exploring the full potential of his/her voice.
We, however, refer to these areas as passage areas. That's because, when you approach them the right way, they become passage ways between where you are coming from and where you want to go in your vocal range.
And now let’s explore the art of singing through the passage areas. Your first passage area is the most critical. It's where your outer muscles (if they haven't done so already) are most likely to enter into the adjustment process. When they do, they pull on and tighten around the outside of your larynx in an effort to stretch your vocal cords to get the necessary tension for the pitch or dynamic level you require. But, as we have said, stretching your cords in this manner causes your entire singing mechanism—tone and words—to jam up! Fortunately, there is a better and much easier way to stretch your vocal cords to achieve the necessary tensions without disrupting your tone-making process or your word-making process.
The key is to do less in order to do more. To be specific, the higher you sing the less air you should spend. However, this does not mean you should stop breathing. Just control what you spend. When you reduce the amount of air you send to your vocal cords, you make it possible for the muscles inside your larynx to stretch your vocal cords by themselves. Your outer muscles are less likely to interfere because there isn't as much air to hold back. Your outer muscles will interfere in the vibration process whenever you use more air than your vocal cords and the other muscles inside your larynx are able to handle.
You are the instrument, learn to sing like a pro!
Vocal Coach & Author
"Letters from a Vocal Coach"