Falsetto and Singing Registers

singing-registers-catPeople ask me a lot about singing registers:

  • How do I sing falsetto?  Or whistle range?
  • How do I prevent my voice from cracking when I go from low voice to high voice or visa versa?

P. Mario Marafioti once said, “The speaking voice is the real mold of the singing voice, in all its characteristics and dimensions; therefore, it must also be the factor for its different pitches.”

A famous European voice teacher from the nineteenth century named Lamperti said that “singing is speech a thousand times refined,” so I take his words and work them backwards. If we use singing to refine speech, we get the best of both worlds.

Both singing and speaking depend on how you use your tongue.

Singing Registers Pointers

  • Don’t think of your voice as having several high and low parts that you relate to in a vertical way
  • Think of it as 1 connected line on a horizontal plane from back to front instead of up and down.
  • Going from one end to the other is like using a zipper that has all its teeth.  As you go from one to the other, you may feel a place where the “zipper” feels like it’s going to get stuck, kind of like how it feels when you shift gears with a manual transmission
  • At that point, you have to use your singing muscles a bit differently just because of physics, so slow way down as you go from one note to another and MAKE SURE you pay attention to what’s going on at the back of your tongue and in your throat area
  • If you feel tension in either area and if you feel the tongue pulling backwards, release all that tension and continue going even more slowly to the next tone
  • Sometimes yawning through the tight area will help
  • Do the Slow Leaky Tire standing up
  • Next, do the Slow Leaky Tire lying down plus this:
    • Lie flat on your back with your legs uncrossed and arms at your side, being sure to keep the shoulders down (not hunched up), especially as you go higher
    • Close your eyes so you can concentrate on feeling what’s going on inside of you
    • When you get to the area that wants to tighten, slow down and work only on the 1-2 notes that lead up to where you might have “cracked” or “broken” in the past and the 1-2 notes after that area
    • Don’t push or try to force yourself into the next note. Instead, gently work the few notes around the tricky area until you have trained your brain to figure it out
    • Do this until you stop cracking and don’t go back to your old habits
  • IMPORTANT: THE TONGUE IS BIG THING THAT CAN HELP YOU OR HINDER YOU!
  • It takes determination to work this out so NEVER QUIT and NEVER PUSH!
  • Last and most important: singing is your joy released so have fun with it!
{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Joy June 10, 2010, 11:38 am

    I apologize, but I don’t have one on myspace. I do have a Twitter account though….. @singingmaster. You can use that. I will be setting up a Facebook account too….but that will probably be happening in a few weeks. Right now I’m rebuilding my SingBabySing site too. Lots of fun stuff….

    What do think you need to know the most about your voice?

  • Joy July 1, 2010, 7:51 am

    Thanks so much!

  • Rj Saranillo Martinez (Jaycee) October 13, 2013, 11:56 am

    Oh my! when I discoverd my whistle register, my head voice is set aside so the problem is I cannot anymore sing in head voice.. Can You help me?

    • Joy October 14, 2013, 2:29 pm

      Hi R.j,

      Remember that all “registers” are as one and are not separate from one another. In other words, you have only one voice, not separate voices for each “register.”

      I actually don’t use the term “registers” anymore because I have found that it can truly confuse people. I would rather not have the term in the article, but I know that people think in terms of “registers” so I need to address that terminology.

      Think of the different “high and low” notes of your voice as a continuous line out in front of you instead of above and below you. In other words, visualize it on the horizontal plane rather the vertical plane. See it as one line only instead of a line with several different places where the line stops and starts. Instead of thinking of whistle or head or chest voices, think of only one voice with no disconnected parts.

      Hope that helps,
      Joy

      • Rj Saranillo Martinez (Jaycee) October 25, 2013, 9:49 am

        Good Day ma’am

        Thanks again! Your My Vocal hero! Can I ask some Vocal Tips From u? because it’s really Confusing. if eating spicy foods are Bad for My Voice and Drinking Lemon? and What Can I Drink Before My Performance.. Please answer.. Thank You!

        God Bless
        Jaycee

        • Joy October 31, 2013, 3:08 pm

          Aw, thanks. I don’t think anyone has ever called me their “vocal hero!”

          The question about spicy foods and what to drink actually has a long answer that involves much about wellness and overall health.

          There is no one-size-fits all answer to that question because every person is completely unique, so what works for one may or may not work another.

          That being said, one thing that is very good for drinking before a performance is fresh ginger tea. Lemon is ok but I prefer ginger.

          But then if your throat is dry, you would want a different herbal tea, so again, it depends on the condition of the singer.

          Some people need to use drying herbal teas to get rid of phlegm. Others need mucilaginous herbal tea to soothe irritated tissues.

          If you want more information about this, I might write an article about it.

          Thanks,
          Joy

  • vicksmj February 14, 2014, 2:48 am

    Hi mam, its my pleasure to write to you…i am a vocalist in a band I have a bass oriented voice I can hit low notes very effortlessly but when it comes to hit high notes it gets impossible for me to reach notes.. I feel squeezy feeling inside the throat and neck area…i go very loud while hitting high notes..which causes strain 🙁 ..its like sometime I could hit those notes sometimes not…this is the only difficulty I am facing.. It is stopping me to showcase my creativity… Plzzzz help me… I need u.. Plz be my angel :'(

    • Joy February 20, 2014, 2:56 pm

      Hi Vicksmj,

      Thanks for trusting me with your question about high notes, strain and how this affects your creative work.

      The first thing I would like to think about is how the notes are formed in the vocal cords themselves. If you think of your vocal cords as though they are on a vertical plane, which is what most people think, then you will “reach up” with your throat area to try and sing them. This will bring immediate strain that is entirely unnecessary.

      So, before I can help you further, please let me know what you understand about the physical part of your vocal instrument, particularly in regards to how the vocal cords are situation and how they work.

      Then we can go from there.

      Kindly,
      Joy

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