As we’re sure you’ll agree:
A strong head voice is one of the most stadium-ready traits a singer can possess.
From Freddie Mercury to Whitney Houston, many of the world’s most famed singers have leveraged the technique throughout their careers.
However, if you’re just starting out in your singing career, strengthening your head voice can seem like an impossible task.
But fear not! In this article, we’re bringing you 9 killer tips on how to strengthen your head voice, along with some extra resources and examples thrown in.
Ready? Let’s get started!
1. Relax Beforehand
First and foremost, understand that building a strong head voice is a physical activity.
Before you start, it’s important that you’re relaxed and centered. Singing with your head voice is no different from any other type of vocal performance in this regard.
If you’re tense, creaky, or stiff, you risk poor sound at best and vocal injury at worst.
So, in advance of any practice or performance:
- Roll out your shoulders
- Relax your jaw
- Rotate your neck
- Stretch your back.
Finally, make sure you’ve assumed a centered, pliable stance with soft knees and a straight spine. Here’s a great video from Backstage on how to adopt a good singing posture:
2. Use A Natural (But Unusual) Entry Point
Singing, as you might have learned, originates in the core.
When using your chest voice, you propel sound from your chest and your abdomen. This creates a vibrant, resonant sound.
However, when using your head voice, you’ll (perhaps unsurprisingly) feel the vibrations in your head. This can feel strange when you first access it.
So: you need to find a natural entry point.
As silly as it might sound, a good place to start when finding that head voice is a children’s story:
When we recite children’s books or nursery rhymes, we naturally slip into head voice with certain characters.
Before you begin, try declaiming a head voice-based children’s rhyme, like “You can’t catch me: I’m the gingerbread man.” That voice is a great way of acclimatizing to your head voice.
3. Stretch Your Range From High To Low
When working with your chest voice, you are probably used to progressing from the low end of the scale upward.
When using your head voice, you start at the top of your register, then drop down.
On the way, you’ll find a break where you move from your higher head voice to your lower chest voice. Kind of like you’re shifting down a gear in a car.
One of the best techniques for stretching your range (and strengthening your head voice) is the “Woo” method:
This is as simple as it sounds; let loose with a “woo” sound at the highest pitch you can manage.
Sustain this woo down your register, noting when you shift from falsetto to head voice, then head voice to chest.
4. Keep That Chin Up!
It’s useful to think of vocal exercises like tuning a stringed instrument:
There are muscles in your throat that stretch and relax your vocal cords. The higher your pitch, the tighter your cords are stretched.
Chin placement can aid in this stretching (so you don’t end up straining your vocal cords and developing nodules).
Start by looking in the mirror while you practice:
Your natural impulse as you hit your head voice is to tuck your chin in…
You need to train yourself to lift your chin instead, stretching out your vocal cords as you move up the scale.
5. Pay Attention To The Placement Of Your Larynx
Whether you’re reaching for a deep bass rumble or a glass-shattering falsetto, your larynx – the muscle regulating air-flow – should be in a low position.
When your larynx lifts, it creates that weak, straining croak sound we all hate.
To find the ideal larynx placement:
- Place your hand over your throat and find the bobbing muscle
- Let out a yawn
- The placement of your larynx, while you yawn, is its optimal position
Knowing that placement, you can work to keep it there as you sing from your head voice.
6. Start Off Quietly, Then Build Into It
If you’re building the strength of your head voice, you no doubt are looking for power.
Robin Gibb, Justin Timberlake, Prince – they all match a piercing head voice with stadium-shaking vocal strength.
However, that doesn’t mean you need to rattle the rafters while you practice.
You’ll find it much simpler to hit a note quietly, then build up the strength.
So, when practicing your head voice:
- Begin at the same volume you use for a normal indoor conversation
- Once you’ve matched the pitch, start again, only slightly louder
- Rinse & repeat until you reach the desired power
7. Keep Your Mouth Wide And Full
We’ll illustrate this tip with a famous story about Freddie Mercury:
He was born with four extra incisor teeth, which expanded the size of his oral cavity and allowed him to hit those insanely high notes.
Whether or not this is accurate, it illustrates the importance of maintaining a lot of space in your mouth while using your head voice.
To prevent your mouth from tightening up while you sing, you need to loosen your jaw.
A good vocal exercise to do this is letting your jaw hang and singing “la-la-la-la-la” or “ya-ya-ya-ya-ya” on a five-note scale.
8. Don’t Let Breath Control Slip By The Wayside
Just because you’re working from the upper register of your vocal range doesn’t mean that you can slack off with your breathing:
Whether singing from high or low, your voice should be powered by strong breath support.
To ensure this support, you need to begin your practice with breathing exercises that focus on the chest and abdomen. You also need to minimize shoulder movement with each breath.
Here are a few example breathing exercises you might consider implementing into your practice routine:
- Breathing in through the nose, then out through the mouth
- Diaphragmatic breathing
- Deep breathing while laying on your back
If you’re more of a visual learner, here’s a great breathing workout video from Jacobs Vocal Academy on YouTube:
9. Watch That Vibrato!
If you’re knocking out a classical aria, strong vibrato comes naturally.
However, that’s not the case when it comes to your head voice (and falsetto in particular).
When your register lifts from to the top-reaches of your head voice, natural vibrato disappears. Being aware of this is a good way of tracking your progression into falsetto.
When doing vocal progressions during your warmups:
- Place your hands along your lower ribs
- At the low end of the scale, you should feel strong vibration (which should continue even as you slip into your head voice)
- Once you move into full falsetto, this vibration should vanish
And there we have it! 9 killer tips on how to strengthen your head voice.
If you’re still looking for ways to add power to your head voice, why not check out our guide on how to fix a breathy head voice next?