Hittin’ High Notes

Mark_Baxter
The amount of movement required for your entire range is three millimeters -says Mark Baxter

Can you drop down into a split without warming up? How about after warming up?

Vocal range is a lot like the range of motion of your limbs. The elasticity necessary to do a split requires a lot of stretching.

The same is true for your voice. The vocal folds are membranes (a little smaller then your eyelids) that stretch over the windpipe. When air streams between them, their edges vibrate.

The action required to sing different notes is more like tuning a guitar than playing one

The vibration is nothing more than a microscopic wiggle. Look closely at a guitar string after it’s played and you’ll see the same thing. To sing high, your vocal folds vibrate fast – really fast.

The action required to sing different notes is more like tuning a guitar than playing one. Muscles in the larynx pull or release the folds to create high and low pitches.

The amount of movement required for your entire range is three millimeters.

Re-read the above line about a thousand times until it is embedded in your subconscious.

The root of all vocal problems is that we perceive the activities involved with singing as big events.

They’re not.

We ball our fists and load up enough air pressure to create an aneurysm just to get through the chorus of a song. The automatic reaction to such force is resistance; the body braces for the assault.

vocalizing daily at a low volume will allow you to visit higher notes without stress

Rigid muscles lock up the vocal folds. No flexibility, no range. It’s that simple.

The key to singing high notes is volume – as in, start with less of it. Reducing the volume of your voice removes the burden of excess air pressure so your folds can become more elastic.

Just as a little stretching every day is necessary to do splits, vocalizing daily at a low volume will allow you to visit higher notes without stress.


 The Ultimate Guide to SingingMark is a contributor to The Ultimate Guide to Singing Available in print and Kindle versions in the US, the UK and across the world.

Mark Baxter Professional Shoot

Mark Baxter has worked as a coach with Aerosmith, Journey, Goo Goo Dolls — and many others. He is the author of The Rock-n-Roll Singer’s Survival, creator of The Singer’s Toolbox instructional DVD, Sing Like an Idol instructional CD. Mark operates vocal studios in New York, Boston, Los Angeles and online via Skype. Visit his website: VoiceLesson


  • Jill

    I have always sang, but recently we are going to be doing quite a few shows in a short period and I will be doing all of the singing. What tips and tricks do you have for pacing ones self for 2-3 hour shows? I find my throat feels sore after an hour. Any suggestions would be great!!!! And yes, I am warming up and hydrating well!!!