I have been singing as a soprano for as long as I have sung. I started joining choirs in middle school, so I have spent roughly half my life singing as a soprano. My vocal range has always naturally been a soprano, now even a descant, however, my techniques started very far from it. Of course, with the years of singing, there have been numerous vocal lessons in between. I always identify myself as an intuitive singer (intuitive anything, really), which means that whatever I can feel, I can sing.
The feeling is a huge thing for me. Being able to feel something is what makes me be able to do something. Really, be it singing, writing, even all the way to making PowerPoint slides and budget drafts. The feeling is how my world is able to work. Thankfully, the feeling is also a huge part of singing and music in general, so I wasn’t really that far off. However, some songs, as I have learned, are big songs that require technical precisions. For most songs, I could still get away with allowing the feelings to drive the technical aspects, however, it does not always work for other songs, like Schubert’s “Ave Maria”, Webber’s “Pie Jesu”, or the killer choir song of all, Handel’s “The Great Hallelujah”. In fact, I found that inserting too many emotions into big songs like these actually led to pitch issues, as emotions tend to move or push pitches when uncontrolled.
In singing, there is what we call chest voice, mixed voice, and head voice. The chest voice is usually used to sing the lower to mid register, and it resonates in your chest. Mixed voice is usually what you use to sing the mid-registers, and it is a combination of both your chest voice and head voice, it usually sounds thinner than chest voice but thicker than head voice (yeah, getting the balance also takes many practices to master). The head voice is what you use to sing the upper range, the notes not otherwise accessible to your chest, and mixed voices. It is a whole world of its own.
I struggled a lot with achieving a technically-correct head voice, especially for notes between high G (G5) to high C (C6) — that’s the range defining a true soprano. After years of practicing, I learned that my biggest mistake was to try hard to hit the note, and by that I mean, I would become obsessed with reaching the note that I would constrict and stiffen my chest, shoulders, and throat in order to reach it. With this technique, I would reach it a couple of times, but my throat would give out on the next try. It became a yo-yo. My chest and shoulder were so full of resistance that I mistook them as strength. Over time, with many practices, coaching sessions, and, believe it or not, meditation sessions, I found that the correct technique was to actually let go and relax. Your chest and shoulders must relax, your knees are not to be locked, and your throat must relax.
All you have to do is picture the note you want to sing, picture your voice travelling from your sound sources into the cavities they travel, and as you sing the note, imagine the note down instead of up like you are trying to ground the note. It would also help if you push both your hands down while you’re singing the high note. Later I found out that if you imagine the note up, you lose control over the note as your brain would be at risk to falsely assume the note higher than it actually is, and you’d likely end up with pitch issues. Imagining it down gives you back the control to ground the note.
I realised that singing is a lot like life. If you want to reach higher notes, you need to let go of resistance and imagine the notes down instead of how high they are. The same thing goes for our lives. If you want to achieve the greater things, then you have to let go of resistance and imagine how attainable they are instead of how difficult they are. That way, your brain would not ever trick you into thinking of a false narrative.
Be at peace, even if there are mountains ahead, be at peace. Lower all resistance. Change the way you see it. Change your narrative. You’ll eventually find that the same mountains that once brought you fear, anxiety, and night terrors, are the same mountains that you eventually overcame.
Be at peace.
Be at peace.
Be at peace.
And sing your song.