I'm a 37-year-old male and I'm in to Rock/Heavy Metal singing. I would like to be able to sing higher with more power (as I'm sure every singer does). I discovered my head voice about 2-3 months ago, which seems like a step in the right direction. However, it seems quite 'weak' and lacking in stamina, so I've been trying to do some exercises, such as those recommended in this video by Ken Tamplin.

When I try to do the higher head voice exercises, I can reach most of the notes ok (although it is a bit of a struggle for the higher ones); however, my voice seems to tire quite fast when I do that. After about 30-40 minutes of doing those scales and practicing a few songs (not all in head voice), my voice gets tired and I seem to have trouble reaching some of the notes cleanly. Afterwards and the day after, I feel like some of the muscles around my jaw and high neck area are a bit stiff and tense. I seem to also suffer from some mild headaches for a day or two after practicing my head voice like this.

So, is this normal? I think the 'stiffness' is muscular, and I'm thinking it's probably because I'm new to head voice and because I'm using muscles that I haven't really used before. But, could it be a sign of vocal fatigue or that I'm doing something wrong? I'm not entirely sure if the best way to proceed is to practice it more frequently, or to give myself more of a break (a bit of a dilemma).

I have to admit that I don't have a vocal coach and I probably should get one.

  • Your headaches are coming from strain / tension as well as dehydration. See my answer below for more info. – jjmusicnotes Apr 17 '19 at 11:07

How do you get to Carnegie hall? Practice!!!! You stated that you just found your "Head Voice". Yes you are tiring yourself out. Its something new that your throat will have to deal with. Over time you will develop more control, sustain, and range. BEWARE however, Pro's mess there voices up all the time from over-practice. So don't burn up your vocal chords by trying to do too much too soon.

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    Thanks, this is helpful advice. Perhaps what I should do is practice a couple of times a week for a shorter time (20 mins or so). I agree its important to rest and not tire my voice out. – Time4Tea Apr 16 '19 at 18:14

In addition to User Eamon O'Dwyer's answer, I think the headaches may be a point of concern, especially for days after practice. I recommend you see a vocal specialist about that, if not a doctor.

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    It seems to be mostly the day after I practice. I was thinking it might be because my body is not used to having the sound resonating in my head, so it might improve over time. But yes, if the problems persist, I think I will need to seek some professional advice. – Time4Tea Apr 17 '19 at 13:04

Yes, fatigue is normal from use, but your level of it comes from poor technique. Your jaw and neck are tired because you are relying on the muscles to make the sound and not using enough air. 99% of problems are fixed with proper breath management.

The real name for “Head voice” is “Falsetto”, which is an Italian word that roughly translates to “false voice”. Your falsetto WILL NOT have as much “power” as your chest voice. Trying to force it will only cause damage. Professional vocalists strive for what is called a “mixed voice” when singing in their upper register. This voice is a mix between chest and head and takes many years to develop properly.

If you are truly serious about skiing this correctly, find yourself a voice teacher with a background in vocal pedagogy. Not every voice teacher has this (or has any formal training). Be choosy of your material because as with health / exercise advice, there’s a lot of made-up garbage about singing floating around in the universe.

  • Thanks for your advice, this is interesting. So, you think I probably should be using more air to make the higher notes? I thought there is a difference between head voice and falsetto, in that with falsetto, the vocal chords aren't closing, whereas 'head voice' is in a similar register, but with full chord closure. I agree that if I keep on having these problems, I will need to look more seriously into finding a vocal coach. – Time4Tea Apr 17 '19 at 13:02
  • RE: More air - yes, absolutely. You're relying on creating tension to compensate for lack of control. Inconsistent air contributes also to lack of control, thus tension. When I say "more air" I don't mean for you to sing louder, I mean for you to use the same amount of air from beginning to end of each breath. This takes practice and training. Vocal folds are constantly opening and closing, this action is what produces sound. Head voice and falsetto are the same, the former term is used more by laypeople. You should find a vocal coach even if you don't experience any problems. – jjmusicnotes Apr 17 '19 at 13:57

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