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How to properly grow the head voice - expert advice needed (clip included)

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Jeremy Mohler
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Hello all, I come to you with a question that I can't find answered anywhere else in the way I'd like it to be.  I've been singing for a few years now and I am quite happy with my voice.  I have a quite strong chest voice that I am currently stretching into the fourth octave inch by inch. (I am still at the point where I am losing ease and starting to strain by C#4) However, what I strongly desire is to have a beautiful head voice sound that can cover all dynamics from soft and pretty to loud and powerful.  I used to not have any head voice tone whatsoever available to me but about a year back I found I was able to make the smallest strained peep in a head tone around D4 and since then it's been getting easier but still can only phonate at extremely quiet levels.

 

So, my question is, how does one grow their head voice to get a more resonant tone?  I can sing in head voice comfortably up to E4 at this point and stretch it up to G4 but it's so damn quiet.  What do I have to do to grow this sound so that I have the dynamic control to swell the tone into bigger resonance?  I assumed I just had to keep practicing with it even if it is very quiet but now I am worried that singing so quietly isn't doing anything for the sound's resonance as the volume of my head voice is still just as limited as it was when if first discovered it.  If anyone can give me some reassurance as to how to truly grow the head voice to have strong dynamic control and range I'd most appreciate it.

 

Here is a clip of what I assume to be my head voice currently sounds like: http://picosong.com/5Zhf/  If I try to increase the volume on this sound at all it turns into crackling noise and cuts out.  

 

Thanks!

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My advice to you is to take vocal lessons one on one with the best vocal coach you can find (that you can afford) WEEKLY for a few years and practice 4-6 days a week. ONLY if you do that you may land at the beauty and freedom you're looking for at the end of a few years, anything less and it will take longer. "Beauty" and "dynamic control" are some of the last things to be developed into the voice. There is so much that you have to work on just to do the growing of range, before you even get to the result of adding great sound and freedom to that range. You will hear the progress along the way and pretty quickly be able to start performing with it, but you have set your standard high, a very good thing, but it does require you put in the work to meet it, that is all. And I recommend investing the coaching to help you get it done quick because life is short!

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Great advice man, I really appreciate the honesty, I definitely have considered a vocal coach but the only thing is I've had bad experiences with vocal coaches in the past who really knew no more about vocal technique than I did.  AKA, the kinda vocal coaches that have a decent voice and think they are in a position to teach yet lack the true "teacher's ear" and technical knowledge to actually guide someone else to do it beyond saying, "Do this scale over and over." So, I am just afraid of signing up with someone who doesn't have any real idea on how to help me.  And skype lessons are out of the question because I don't have any privacy around my house to be yelling out notes otherwise I would have done that a long time ago.  

 

Until then, I would appreciate any advice on how I can at least start going about training my head voice on my own. Thanks in advanced.

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I don't think that's headvoice, man. I think that's probably a very thin chest voice, with a lot of twang, and at the highest note, maybe some swallowing muscles involved.

If you really want to find your falsetto you need to fully disconnect your voice. Can you do a Mickey Mouse impression? Hooty and breathy, it doesn't matter. Can you do that :P ?

Post a clip if you can! :D

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I disagree with Xamedhi, I think it's head voice, however, if I'm not mistaken, him and I are different voice types so that could account for it.

For me, my head voice started out like yours, sounding like a very thinned out chest voice. Falsetto, yes, you can disconnect more if you want, but you'll just end up in a coordination that doesn't grow much. What you are doing now is the right start.

 

You should try to find an area or way to practice in privacy where you're able to be loud anyways. That is probably a big reason why the sounds you're making now are quite small. And then from there you could probably do skype lessons, if not, it's possible you could find a great coach locally if you do some thorough research on them

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I would begin with taking a good look at your posture and support. Are those elements in shape? Support is your engine.

 

You sounded very "tentative"...

 

Singing cannot be tentative....not physically or mentally. To sing bigger, you've got to think bigger. Hope I've helped.

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Have you thought of a different login name? Some people might get the impression that you are close to being a phallus.

 

Or just as easily, something in the other direction.

 

If people are offended by my name I can change it LOL.  The name comes from an inside joke between friends a long while back.  If anyone else finds it unjust I would be okay with changing it to something more PG-13.

 

I disagree with Xamedhi, I think it's head voice, however, if I'm not mistaken, him and I are different voice types so that could account for it.

For me, my head voice started out like yours, sounding like a very thinned out chest voice. Falsetto, yes, you can disconnect more if you want, but you'll just end up in a coordination that doesn't grow much. What you are doing now is the right start.

 

You should try to find an area or way to practice in privacy where you're able to be loud anyways. That is probably a big reason why the sounds you're making now are quite small. And then from there you could probably do skype lessons, if not, it's possible you could find a great coach locally if you do some thorough research on them

 

Let's not be mistaken here, I do practice singing quite loud as well.  I just can't do that when demoing head voice sounds yet. I do have quite a strong chest connection which I can post a link to here: http://picosong.com/4NxJ/

 

I only practice with such small sounds whenever I am trying to work in this head voice, I understand that doing only those volumes will cause the voice to atrophy over time.  As far as my voice type is concerned (as you mentioned we are different voices) I believe myself to be a baritone on the absolute cusp of tenor timbre, low tenor might be appropriate too.  edit: Also, you say your head voice started out like mine, what did you personally do to grow it then?

 

Why I think it is chest voice? Because he can't carry it higher. If he can do that same coordination in a A4-B4 or even C5 or D5, lighter or not, then I certainly would think it is headvoice.

 

I can indeed bring this voice up to A4 - B4, and even up to C5 - D5 but it gets more and more strained and uneasy at those levels.  For those notes I disconnect from chest to my falsetto register that I can get all the way up F6 with blistering volumes but mediocre tone. (it's really only useful for quick "woos!" or something.  Here is a link to that sound: http://picosong.com/5Zhz/  

 

I would begin with taking a good look at your posture and support. Are those elements in shape? Support is your engine.

 

You sounded very "tentative"...

 

Singing cannot be tentative....not physically or mentally. To sing bigger, you've got to think bigger. Hope I've helped.

 

Again, I sing quite strongly more often than not in my practice sessions.  (Usually in the car)  I think I have a decent idea of posture but not much of an idea of support.  So you are saying that my head voice will grow out of using chest voice sounds at my break?  I am just curious as to how you truly start developing a stronger head voice connection and I always figured that doing nothing but chest voice would weaken said connection. 

 

Thanks to all for your wonderful replies. :)

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Now that's what we needed to make a better judgement of where you are :P   

You certainly have a lot of strength then in your headvoice.  I understand now that what you are looking for is your "mix"?

Well, my voice was a lot, lot weaker than yours and I still managed to get the coordination of my mix, so I think it's just a matter of dexterity. With that said it could probably be positive to stop thinking about growing, because you got plenty power and strength. You need to learn new coordinations.

What helped me a lot was a "bub-bub-bub" excercise on an octave. I was using Mastering Mix at the time so yeah.   I was doing it full on breath support, low larynx.. relaxed face and neck as much as I could, raised soft palate, and thought about how with those "BUB" -that helped me so much to get closure from G4 to C5- I could get the most "classical" kind of sound. ( which I can't really because I a not a classicaly trained singer but that was the idea, though my timbre resembles Dickinson's in that area haha )

It helped ME get that cordination. You could try doing a "siren" with very fast BUB's in succession,  from your mid range to your high range, and see what happens.
 Other excercise that helped me figure out that was the "nya-nya" sound, very high larynx, twanged and ugly... veeery ugly, haha. But it helped.

If you do any of these things, just post a clip, mate! :D

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Now that's what we needed to make a better judgement of where you are :P   

You certainly have a lot of strength then in your headvoice.  I understand now that what you are looking for is your "mix"?

Well, my voice was a lot, lot weaker than yours and I still managed to get the coordination of my mix, so I think it's just a matter of dexterity. With that said it could probably be positive to stop thinking about growing, because you got plenty power and strength. You need to learn new coordinations.

What helped me a lot was a "bub-bub-bub" excercise on an octave. I was using Mastering Mix at the time so yeah.   I was doing it full on breath support, low larynx.. relaxed face and neck as much as I could, raised soft palate, and thought about how with those "BUB" -that helped me so much to get closure from G4 to C5- I could get the most "classical" kind of sound. ( which I can't really because I a not a classicaly trained singer but that was the idea, though my timbre resembles Dickinson's in that area haha )

It helped ME get that cordination. You could try doing a "siren" with very fast BUB's in succession,  from your mid range to your high range, and see what happens.

 Other excercise that helped me figure out that was the "nya-nya" sound, very high larynx, twanged and ugly... veeery ugly, haha. But it helped.

If you do any of these things, just post a clip, mate! :D

 

Thank you very much!  Yes, I suppose I do have a lot of strength in "head voice" disconnecting into my falsetto.  I guess my real question is then, how do I strengthen my head dominant mix?  I will definitely try your exercises out and see how the work for me.

 

 I just seem to have hit a wall on my upper range because I really can't thin out into mix as of now. Though, I don't just want a big belty mix, I really would like to have a strong connected head voice in the vain of singers like Smokey Robinson or Michael Jackson.  I am afraid if I just practice with a strong chest connection I will not gain that kind of light head voice sound I aim for but the consensus I am getting here is that I should stop practicing so light and just keep working out my break in chest  (without straining of course) to eventually find head resonance?

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If people are offended by my name I can change it LOL.  The name comes from an inside joke between friends a long while back.  If anyone else finds it unjust I would be okay with changing it to something more PG-13.

 

 

 

Well, I don't know if it was offensive but it certainly leads to an image. And so you have changed to the cigarette experience. I guess that is better?

 

Okay...

 

Not that I am the arbitor of what logins should be I just wonder why it is necessary to have an id that most here might find a bit off or odd. Whatever happen to just using one's name? I guess that would be stupid, I must be stupid. (don't everyone all agree at once ...  :ph34r:  )

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The Cigarette Experience,

 

wow your voice is very similar to mine when I started. I had that loud woop-y high falsetto and the faint head voice that sounds like light chest voice that got tense around the B4 for me. 

Why don't you try singing along to Michael Jackson and Smokey Robinson and try to get a little closer to their sound and ability every day? That's one way you could maybe grow the head voice without a coach. Another idea is check out the lessons on Rob Lunte's youtube channel and see if that's what you're after and maybe get his program. And train with that stuff. I trained my head voice with him over skype lessons for a year and half and it grew like hell. I didn't end up sounding anything like MJ or Smokey though! But maybe the two together could work for you.

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First let me say your low notes are very ballsy sir... lol

 

 

Though, I don't just want a big belty mix, I really would like to have a strong connected head voice in the vain of singers like Smokey Robinson or Michael Jackson.

 

I sing MJ, Stevie, etc... in my big belty mix.

 

 

the consensus I am getting here is that I should stop practicing so light and just keep working out my break in chest  (without straining of course) to eventually find head resonance?

 

You already found head resonance. You can sing crazy high you have no problem with that.

 

What seems to be the problem is your 1st bridge. What happens when you try to stay in your "normal voice"? Can you post a siren/scale on a few vowels up to G4? or a song that goes into the E4-G4 range?

 

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First let me say your low notes are very ballsy sir... lol

 

 

I sing MJ, Stevie, etc... in my big belty mix.

 

 

You already found head resonance. You can sing crazy high you have no problem with that.

 

What seems to be the problem is your 1st bridge. What happens when you try to stay in your "normal voice"? Can you post a siren/scale on a few vowels up to G4? or a song that goes into the E4-G4 range?

 

Thanks for your compliments, due to my lack of upper range I spend a lot of time training my lows which are pretty good down to G2.  And yeah, maybe I've found head resonance but the real question is why can't I access that amount of resonance in my connected head voice?  The only way I can access that is by disconnecting from my chest completely and even then that volume only comes into play C5+ My real goal here is to get a proper bridge going into a heady mix without having to drop down to whisper volumes or completely disconnect from chest into an airy falsetto.

 

 Here is a clip of song in the E4 - G4 *disclaimer: it sounds bad and turn your volume down because it's a loud as hell clip* This would be what I sound like in B3 - G4 range.  Note that everything above C4 for me is progressively more and more uncomfortable so I generally stay below D4 or so when doing serious practice as to not train any strain into my voice.  http://picosong.com/5taJ/  Ideally I'd to be able to access this range with a strong heady mix rather than having to strain chest up there. 

 

The Cigarette Experience,

 

wow your voice is very similar to mine when I started. I had that loud woop-y high falsetto and the faint head voice that sounds like light chest voice that got tense around the B4 for me. 

Why don't you try singing along to Michael Jackson and Smokey Robinson and try to get a little closer to their sound and ability every day? That's one way you could maybe grow the head voice without a coach. Another idea is check out the lessons on Rob Lunte's youtube channel and see if that's what you're after and maybe get his program. And train with that stuff. I trained my head voice with him over skype lessons for a year and half and it grew like hell. I didn't end up sounding anything like MJ or Smokey though! But maybe the two together could work for you.

 

Haha, that's awesome nice to meet a similar voice!  Thanks for all your help man, I really appreciate it.  I wish I could take skype lessons with Lunte but it just isn't possible at this point.  Are you saying his program would be something I could work on my own though if I purchased or would it require skype lessons?  Thanks again. 

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I had the same issue. I was also pretty happy with me lower register....enough so that I tried to sing as many songs as I could down there. But inevitably I would hit a ceiling of one sort or another. And sometimes that ceiling would be a bit lower than what I was expecting (meaning the Eb4 area that seems to be the accepted male vocal break) Often I would feel the ceiling at C4....depending on the context. It's always different from song to song.

    Long story short.....sirens were the thing that put me in touch with my still yet to be mastered upper register. Scales are great and have their function but for me, staying connected was found through doing sirens. When you're ascending or descending in pitch naturally and slowly you get a pretty good idea of what you need to be  hanging on to in terms of anchoring in order for the sound to remain consistent in volume and tone. It's kind of a balanced air pressure thing for me. Not pushy....just controlled.

    I now think of head voice in a completely different way than I used to. It used to be something that I didn't use at all and now I feel myself ramping up to it willingly anywhere I feel the need to depending on the context. It's like walking up a gradual flight of stairs instead of trying to scale a sheer brick wall. Good Luck. Watch these videos. Do lots of sirens.

 

 

 

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Thank you friend, I have seen Robert's lift up pull back video and have always really loved it.  I've been using his idea there for about a year now and it's definitely smoothed out my bridge on a light level but I am still struggling to find a way to grow the resonance more.  However, I definitely have a lot of faith in the siren exercises you mention and will continue to do them quite regularly hoping that the gradual improvement in my bridging will eventually lead me to be comfortable enough in my head voice to grow the sound.  

 

At least, this is my theory as of now until I am proved otherwise.  I still practice my chest voice as well of course but I am still reaching my limit around E4. 

 

edit: On a side note, man Pavarotti is such a monster. That F#4 he hits there seems like it could blow your front door in.  

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I had a voice teacher one time who used to always talk about "shaving air" off the tone. It took me a long time to figure out how to do that. Sometimes it's helpful to just sing a low head voice note like E4 or F4 in falsetto and just try to get it less airy while sustaining it. It seems to me that often the "placement" of the falsetto note is correct....it just needs to be more connected. Going from a very soft sound and crescendo to something more useable. The place of origin is the same but the resonant space will grow out from there. I'm still working on this stuff as well.....i find it challenging.

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I had a voice teacher one time who used to always talk about "shaving air" off the tone. It took me a long time to figure out how to do that. Sometimes it's helpful to just sing a low head voice note like E4 or F4 in falsetto and just try to get it less airy while sustaining it. It seems to me that often the "placement" of the falsetto note is correct....it just needs to be more connected. Going from a very soft sound and crescendo to something more useable. The place of origin is the same but the resonant space will grow out from there. I'm still working on this stuff as well.....i find it challenging.

 

Indeed, well it's nice to know I'm not the only one at least. :)  I agree with what you say about how when you find the non-breathy head tone that should correspond to the placement of what your mix would eventually stem from but for the life of me I just can't seem to reliably crescendo the sound from the fundamental tone just yet and that's what leads me to make this thread.  I am wondering if it's just a matter of time until the coordination sets in to allow the fine control of adding resonance in a place that one might not be used to doing so in?  Until I find that answer, I am on a diet of sirens, sirens, sirens.  Thanks again for your replies.

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 Here is a clip of song in the E4 - G4 *disclaimer: it sounds bad and turn your volume down because it's a loud as hell clip* This would be what I sound like in B3 - G4 range.  Note that everything above C4 for me is progressively more and more uncomfortable so I generally stay below D4 or so when doing serious practice as to not train any strain into my voice.  http://picosong.com/5taJ/  Ideally I'd to be able to access this range with a strong heady mix rather than having to strain chest up there.

 

Most men are comfortable in their chest voice and try to bring that up and so they end up yelling. Btw: I think you have a good voice for 60's 70's rock ;)

 

Basically you have a hole in the middle of your voice. You need to find some exercises that start joining the 2, even if they are far from actual singing.

 

Have you tried lip rolls? Start on C3 on a 1,5 octave scale (C E G C E G F D B G F D C) so the top note is G4. Try to keep everything the same (tone, volume, airflow, etc...). It doesn't take long for most people to experience going from chest to head with no breaks on a lip roll. Tongue trills might work for you as well.

 

If you find you push too much, start on G4 on a descending arpeggio (G4 D B G3). Go up and down your range with that.

 

The "ng" exercise can also help you. You can do it on a scale or a siren.

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Most men are comfortable in their chest voice and try to bring that up and so they end up yelling. Btw: I think you have a good voice for 60's 70's rock ;)

 

Basically you have a hole in the middle of your voice. You need to find some exercises that start joining the 2, even if they are far from actual singing.

 

Have you tried lip rolls? Start on C3 on a 1,5 octave scale (C E G C E G F D B G F D C) so the top note is G4. Try to keep everything the same (tone, volume, airflow, etc...). It doesn't take long for most people to experience going from chest to head with no breaks on a lip roll. Tongue trills might work for you as well.

 

If you find you push too much, start on G4 on a descending arpeggio (G4 D B G3). Go up and down your range with that.

 

The "ng" exercise can also help you. You can do it on a scale or a siren.

 

Thanks man!  Sounds awesome, I just tried your lip roll scale and I can actually do them pretty much perfect.  It seems I have no problem bridging the to head voice from chest on a lip roll as it is still on a light level.  Is there something I am supposed to be adding to the exercise once I can achieve that scale up G4?

 

 Also, I agree with what you say about there being a hole in my range.  I have yet to figure out how to bridge my chest and falsetto.  To do those really high notes I posted it currently feels like I have to switch the gears of my voice completely and as of now I can not fathom any possible way of being able to transition into that sound without yodeling.  Honestly, I'm quite confused how some people do sirens from chest tones all the way into the fifth octave with no breaks.  I really envy that kind of control.

 

 Anyway, thanks for your help and compliments.  I will be adding these lip roll scales to my exercises immediately.  :)

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Thanks man!  Sounds awesome, I just tried your lip roll scale and I can actually do them pretty much perfect.  It seems I have no problem bridging the to head voice from chest on a lip roll as it is still on a light level.  Is there something I am supposed to be adding to the exercise once I can achieve that scale up G4?

 

Move up and down your range on it. First up then down. You can go as high as you want but for the purpose of smoothing your break a C5 should do. Also try to take the scale down so the top note is C4.

 

 

I have yet to figure out how to bridge my chest and falsetto.

 

You just did! Just know that this is not a singing sound so you will have to be able to do this on more open sounds as well. But for now keep doing this. Try shorter one octave scales as well. Start with G3 B D G4 D B G3 and move up and down your range.

 

Also try semi-occluded sounds like "v", "z", french "g", "ng", straw. They should feel very similar to the lip roll. Just pick the ones that work best for you.

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Awesome, that's very reassuring man.  How did approximately did it take you to start building resonance in your head voice after doing these kind of exercises?  I am good about applying myself in practice so I'll be patient, perhaps I am closer to my goal than I thought.  I did just discover my head voice about a year and a half ago after all.  I guess us noob singers always want to run before we can walk haha.

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How did approximately did it take you to start building resonance in your head voice after doing these kind of exercises?

 

You will need to do other exercises as well. As I mentioned to you before, those are semi occluded exercises. We are basically taking the vowel out of the equation. What you are working on is not so much resonance but a balance between airflow and cord closure.

 

What's good about those exercises is that you can already feel what it's like to sing with no breaks. You will have to learn how to do this on vowels as well, and songs of course. I would try closed vowels first with your voice so maybe an "oo". You might also respond well to witchy/nasty exercises like the "nay nay nay".

 

I can't help you much more through text... you really need to be working in person, with a teacher.

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