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There's this thing that is really bothering me and so far I can't make it work. I've taken like 10 singing lessons so far and the teacher keeps telling me that when I sing notes that start to go "high" and maybe frighten me I do not push out enough air and the sound and notes stay on the back of my mouth, without getting out with the power they should. And this is not good for the throat because it feels that I kind of hold back the sound to reach the high notes.

To be clear, I'm not talking about impossibly high notes, but it seems that when I know I have to go out of a "safe range" I hold back the air. I reach the note, but not with the tone/volume/power that I had for the others.

It's hard to explain, but I do feel the sensation of what she means: is like the sound stays in the back of the throat instead of fully going out. The problem is, I can't find a way to fix this.

My teacher is trying to tell me in different ways how to overcome this, like "do not think you have to reach a high note, don't think about the pentagram, think of the notes as one after another on a line", or, from a more "physical" point of view, she told me once to "open your mouth in vertical, open up the throat", but I really can't prevent this, it's like an automatic thing that I do because I've always sung like that by myself, never knowing the right way to do it.

Does anyone have some advice that I can try, that worked for you maybe? Both mental or physical. I'm looking for something that I can use when I practice at home, when I don't have anyone to tell me if I'm doing it wrong or not.

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Your teacher is right. There’s a great deal of technics of singing that can be reached by imagination.

  • Imagine you are standing on a higher pitch than the tone you are going to sing.

  • imagine your voice is like fountain, the air is the water jet, the tone is a ping pong ball.

  • imagine the tone is a thread and have to lead it through the eye of a needle.

  • Imagine you are a wulf that howls at the full moon

  • Imagine you are a rockstar or you are on stage singing an Aria in an opera

  • always practice higher notes first by ee, you, me, nee, experimenting with vocals, voicing consonants.

Pictures like these and similar imaginations you can invent yourself and develop your voice and improve your singing abilities. There are no limits of experiments and discoveries. You don’t have only to develop your voice but also your phantasy.

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Observe a professional singer. Preferably a big, over-the-top, expansive opera singer. Here's three of them!

Now, don't worry about the musical aspect of what they're doing. Just copy their style. Parody it. Show off. ACT being a singer.

You might be surprised what comes out!

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seriously the only thing that worked for me with singing was doing exercises daily. Singing scales, scale fragments, arpeggios on "oo" or "aa", and stick with it. Just do it, accept there will be better and worse days, and just keep doing it. Never strain (at least it should never be painful) and just give it time. My usable range extended by more than an octave and is still doing so, to a point I would never have thought possible.

I started mostly on those basic exercises, and experimented with various things like "nay nay nay" and so on - after a while you start realising where the difficult parts of teh instrument are, and focusing on what options you have to mitigate them. But it takes time (in my case some years, admittedly I was a bit on/off sometimes but maybe the breaks helped a bit in fact) - you have to be in it for the long haul.

I can't think really of any moment when I could "think myself through problems". There were certain insights at different times but all as a result of regular practice and just trying to do basic things well.

The voice is a very challenging but also very rewarding instrument. I'm still figuring it out. Good luck.

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In addition to the other answers, one physical suggestion that helped me was to smile when singing; a big beaming smile seems to help bring the sound forward.

(I didn't generally find that the ‘Imagine…’ or other abstract suggestions helped me much.  It was mostly a matter of learning how the various techniques felt, and then finding how to recreate them as needed.  But everyone's different.  And of course, two of the things that make singing so challenging are that everyone has a slightly different instrument, and no-one can really see it or what you're doing to it!)

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My voice teacher has advised me in many great ways with keeping the voice "in the front" or "in the mask" or "out" as you say. One important fact is that you are going to need facial muscles for keeping your voice in the front. I am not an expert on the Latin names for the muscles but the smile is one way to begin. Actually you need the muscles a bit above the smile: I like to think they are those muscles near the cheekbones - they have to be kept active and "upwards" when you sing, otherwise your singing falls flat.

CVT (complete vocal technique) teachers like to talk about the twang. I do not know much about CVT but I like the idea to bring your voice more in the front with the twang technique. I myself like to think it like a witch cackling loudly and in a very ugly voice, maybe even uglier through your nose + mouth. That way you will get your voice more in the mask and more metallic. You may also notice that this activates the same "cheekbone" muscles I talked about earlier!

Another piece of advice is that your singing should sound ugly to yourself through your inner ear. This is because you hear your singing very differently compared to other people, because your singing resonates through the bones in your head. The uglier it sounds to you, the more you have found the resonators (bones and space) "in your head". If your singing sounds nice and beautiful to yourself through the inner ear, it most likely sounds dull and not metallic to others (try recording your voice too!).

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  • Found this Reddit thread you could also go through for ideas: reddit.com/r/singing/comments/4io91i/facial_muscles – jeppoo1 Dec 20 '19 at 12:44
  • Yes, the inner ear thing is what I feel the most. I always hear me singing well, but then I discover that from the outside is very different... – Usr Dec 20 '19 at 13:40

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