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I'm a man in my 30s with no singing training and virtually no experience singing in choirs but I do sing a fair bit (every Sunday at church).

I think I'm a baritone although I am not certain to be honest - I know I have to change from chest to throat voice the G below middle-C but not much else.

I was trying to learn this song on acoustic guitar, in the same key (I think Bm based on the chords?)

Especially in the chorus and the high note right at the end of the verse - what note is that by the way - I have to switch fully to my head voice and while I am in tune it just doesn't sound nice, my head voice is very thin. By contrast my throat and chest voice at least have some sort of distinct tone but I cannot really get my throat voice that high, if I try it soon ends up sore.

What can I do to improve my sound/tone at the upper end of my register? I should add, I don't think I am confusing head voice with falsetto - my head voice will just make a tenor high C (C5) but really struggles to.

update: I recorded myself attempting it in the original key (it's not amazing, you've been warned) https://soundcloud.com/mister_boy/just-the-way-im-feeling/s-C2n8H and also closer to my comfortable range (still not very good): https://soundcloud.com/mister_boy/just-the-way-im-feeling-capo/s-cTQQ1#t=0:06

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    It's an A. Sounds like it could be falsetto. Just because that note can be reached doesn't mean a lot. Try the same note with different sounds - words, vowels, and you may well find that the same note is easier/ harder then. The mouth shape has a bearing on the higher notes one can/'t sing. – Tim Jan 27 '15 at 12:40
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    Are you open to taking vocal lessons from someone or are you trying to figure out how to do all of this on your own? – piofusco Feb 10 '15 at 17:00
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    Hi - To me, it sounds like this fella is singing that A note falsetto. If that's a possibility for you, here's my experience: In my band, we all sing and have had problems with falsetto sounding sometimes a bit awful (too loud / just plain weird etc). We'd be a lousy beegees tribute, haha. The fix has usually been to sing much more gently in falsetto than in chest/head voice. More control, richer sound and less piercing. It takes some getting used to but seems to have worked. – user2808054 Feb 11 '15 at 9:59
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+50

Here are some suggestions

  1. Teaching oneself to sing isn't as simple as learning an instrument. There are limitations to what we can teach ourselves. Seek a teacher!

What immediately concerns me is this:

I cannot really get my throat voice that high, if I try it soon ends up sore

It is this kind of behavior that leads to injury. If your are sore, your body is telling you to stop! While I do not mean to exaggerate, you must treat your voice with care to avoid vocal nodules if you wish to become a singer. You need one on one instruction and someone to correct you while you sing.

This way one can develop good habits, posture, etc., so you can start developing on your own.

REMEMBER: your vocal chords are muscles. Singing is aerobic exercise. It involves your whole body. A "pseudo-athletic" mindset must be taken if you wish to progress (warmup, exercise, cool down, hydration, diet, etc). People who can jump right into singing are the exception, not the norm!

In combination with a vocal instructor to maintain a standard of discipline, you will see growth over time. Enjoy the journey.

  1. Define realistic expectations

You mentioned the following about what you dislike about your head voice and your experience:

I'm a man with no singing training and virtually no experience singing in choirs but I do sing a fair bit (every Sunday at church) [...] my head voice is very thin

Comparing an untrained voice to that of a professionally recorded song would deter anyone. Treasure your own voice as no one else has it! Furthermore, your head voice is secondary. Much like a saxophones altissimo, it's out of your range. While many singers have a very strong head voice, it takes a long time to develop.

Most singers go through phases where they do not enjoy the sound of their own voice. Thom Yorke of Radiohead comes to mind. Sometime following Kid A, Thom developed a sharp criticism of his own voice. It became difficult for him to listen to his voice on any recordings. You can imagine the difficulties this situation might bring. Although Thom Yorke has made a career out of singing and playing music it important to understand that everyone has challenges, even the greats.

  1. If seeking a teacher isn't an option, here are my recommendations for singing a difficult passage

If you feel comfortable singing the whole song, then practice only the difficult part. You will soon understand whether or not you have the ability to sing the song.

  • Make a hardline decision on where to breathe between each word
  • Practice going into the part with the highest note
  • Practice the part with the highest note
  • Practice going into the part leaving the highest note
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That's not a song likely to work well with acoustic guitar, at least not without steel strings and likely 12 of them.

It's also one where it's seminal that it is played in a transposition fitted to the singer. Most of the song is done in a style in upper chest voice range where the voice basically keeps from flipping mainly because of being semi-shouting. It's part of the reason that the song only covers a rather narrow note range. And that has to match your voice.

That also implies that this singing is strenuous without a lot of practice. Being at the upper chest voice range means that this single falsetto note at the end is actually quite solidly in the falsetto range, and it's particularly the low part of an untrained falsetto that is wheezy.

So whether or not you make this song work well with acoustic guitar, I expect a capo and/or transposition to be involved since even moving the pitch slightly is likely to make quite a difference, in particular without much vocal training.

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There are some youtube videos which show exercises for working on that obvious transition to head voice. My personal favourite is lip trills while humming a scale. Generally just try to do exercises involving notes spanning your chest and head voice and repeat these quietly. The trick is quietly. If you sing too powerfully in your chest voice you are likely making your head voice sound even more thin in contrast.

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When no one is around, hold any high note in head voice and record on your phone the sound of all conceivable combinations of positioning your throat, tounge, jaw, abdomen, neck, and even your eyelids. Make a chart so you can keep track

You WILL hear a difference and then you can decide for yourself what works best for you.

  • I will add a teacher of mine advised bending over at the waist to practice high notes. It makes quite a difference in sound production. The trick is figuring out how to transfer that sound making capability to a fully upright posture. – memphisslim Feb 12 '15 at 16:36
  • @memphisslim I wonder if that is because it's more difficult to contract your face and throat muscles when you are bending over? See my answer for an explanation on how relaxing face muscles helps me sing better and higher in head voice. – Rockin Cowboy Feb 12 '15 at 19:05
  • RC you may be onto something. A bent at the waist posture is often used as a relaxation technique in all kinds of physical disciplines. – memphisslim Feb 12 '15 at 19:25
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I hated my head voice and it was for that exact reason that I sought out a singing teacher. I have listed below the techniques that I have used to be able to use this range better, I still don't love it but I'm not afraid of it any more. (For reference, my vocal tone is similar to Gaz Coombes.)

  • Nasal Tones Blend (nasal -> similar to a bahhh tone from a baby goat)

They give me more power in the head voice, too much sounds silly and not enough causes strain on pulling up the chest voice. I learnt to blend nasal tones in gradually up the register. I now always do overly nasal warm ups before singing. Blending took me several weeks to use properly, and months to do more naturally.

  • Vocal Fry's

hard to explain so google it :) Take them right up to the head voice SMOOTHLY, and softly. Took me a few weeks to master. Helped me to strain less and brings that control from chest up to head.

  • Falsetto Blend

This was the hardest one to crack, to use your now just enough nasally head voice AND falsetto at the same time in a blend. Took me a few months to use, and several months to get decent at it.

Final Note: I have had 2 singing teachers, the first one was a rock voice and always wanting to hear more power in the head voice which did me no good. The second teacher taught me to blend and use tones and vowels / diction properly. You need a teacher basically, to get past your personal problems, and one with a similar singing voice to you.

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I used to have a similar problem. When I sang higher notes I had less volume and my voice lost all of the richness that was evident in my chest voice.

I can't remember where I read or saw it - but what I learned was this. I was tensing up trying to hit the higher notes and contracting many of the muscles in my face, mouth and throat. It seemed like the logical and instinctive thing to do - constrict everything tighter so the notes come out higher.

But what I learned was that if I completely relax everything from my the bottom of my throat to the top of my head, I can sing higher, the high notes are louder and don't feel or sound forced, and the higher notes in my head voice have more resonance and are closer to the richness found in my chest voice.

At first this requires a conscious effort but with practice becomes natural. When you first begin to practice this idea - you will have to consciously relax the muscles in your mouth and eyes and the front of your face.

Try looking in a mirror and focus on making sure your facial expressions don't give away that you have switched to head voice as you move up the scale. No squinting, no smiling or tightening of the muscles used to smile or squint. Don't tighten your throat. Keep your jaw relaxed.

For a mental trick to help with this, try to imagine that as you sing scales from low to high and high to low - that you are going to record yourself and then play back the video - with no sound. What your are shooting for is for you or others not to be able to tell whether you are going from high to low or from low to high by just watching your body language and facial tension on the video without the sound.

Perhaps you have tried this already. If not - you might be very pleasantly surprised at how much better (and louder) your head voice sounds coming out of a completely relaxed head.

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