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Falsetto refers to the upper range of the voice. This term is applied to male singers mostly, but women might also sing falsetto.
This singing style has been used by famous performers such as Michael Jackson, Prince, Justin Timberlake, Smokey Robinson, and Philip Bailey, to name a few.
You might even recognize the higher pitches of these performers’ voices because of their talent with falsetto. If you learn how to sing falsetto correctly and effectively, you will improve your range as a performer as well, no matter the songs you sing!
Falsetto is just one facet of what it takes to become a better singer, but a crucial one nonetheless!
While singing falsetto might seem simple enough, reaching proper pitch requires skill, practice, and some understanding of how to produce higher notes no matter your natural voice tone.
Proper falsetto singing involves more than just raising your voice or making yourself sound squeaky!
Consider these quick but vital tips on learning to sing in falsetto so you can reach that upper range of your voice and improve your overall performance.
It's important to consider how your voice is produced and why your voice changes when you decide to learn how to sing falsetto. Two main muscle groups control your vocal cords; one group shortens those cords, and one stretches them out.
To understand how your vocal cords affect the sound and pitch of your voice, think of a stringed instrument. Pulling strings tighter and thinner creates a higher-pitched sound. To create a falsetto singing voice, you need to pull your vocal cords thinner and longer.
This stretching of the vocal cords is one reason people often pull their face and chin up higher when singing falsetto or any higher pitched notes and tend to pull their chin inwards when singing lower notes.
The movement of the muscles in the neck and chest help to expand or contract the vocal cords, creating higher or lower pitches.
To sing falsetto, start by getting a better feeling of how to control your vocal cords for higher or lower pitches.
The first step is to relax; this will ensure the muscles needed to control your vocal cords are not being overworked or overtaxed. Become aware of each part of your mouth and upper body so you can release any tension.
Purposely relax your tongue, jaw, shoulders, and neck, one at a time.
Breathing deeply and expanding your lungs is the next step when you’re ready to sing falsetto. Pull breath in through your nose and feel it fill your stomach. Hold that breath for a count of three and then slowly let it out through pursed lips.
This exercise expands the lungs and helps you to relax! Learn more about breathing exercises here.
Next, practice some high-pitched notes and voices, so you get a feeling of how to control your vocal cords.
Use a "Mickey Mouse" voice, and then try yodeling for a few minutes. Mimic the sound of someone at a concert shouting out a high-pitched “woo!” toward the stage. It’s also helpful to act like a ghost and make that same “woo!” noise, going high and low in pitch and then back and forth in volume.
As you go through these practices, keep elevating your pitch little by little. Don’t push your voice from your chest but take in deep breaths and feel as if you’re pulling your voice from above. You should be able to reach those higher notes naturally as you go.
As you continue these practice steps, keep your shoulders back, your neck long, and open your mouth wide. Stand in front of a mirror if needed to note your overall posture and the width of your mouth. Remember that you don't need to worry about the proper pronunciation of words when singing in falsetto, or during any singing, actually, as audiences appreciate the sounds you’re producing more than the words you’re saying!
One reason for learning to sing in falsetto is that the physical exercises you go through help you better control your upper body and throat when you want to sing in any range.
Remember that singing high notes does not damage your vocal cords but straining those cords can outright ruin your voice! Learning to control your vocal cords allows you to sing better while also protecting them from damage.
Learning the physical control of your throat and mouth needed to sing falsetto also allows you better control over your vocal cords no matter the pitch or tone.
In time, you might notice improved resonance and consistency in the lower parts of your voice when you practice and eventually master falsetto.
Pulling in your breath to sing falsetto might help strengthen your lungs too—a vital aspect of singing any range or note! Improved breathing techniques help you to relax, also crucial for performances no matter the notes or range you’re singing. Being aware of the tension and movement of your mouth and shoulders while singing falsetto helps you remain aware of necessary muscle control for singing in a lower range.
Falsetto singing will help you to reach higher notes and produce a crisper, more accurate sound, creating a more pleasing performance even if you don’t plan on singing an entire song in falsetto!
Mastering a falsetto voice allows you to choose more songs for performances without compromising the quality of your singing.
In simple terms, your head voice is an upper range of vocal sounds just below your falsetto voice.
Head voice is different from chest voice, or the sounds produced when your muscles squeeze and contract your vocal cords. When you lower your voice and feel a growl in the back of your throat or your belly, you are probably using your chest voice.
When you raise your voice and feel a vibration in the upper part of your neck and head, that is likely your head voice.
When a person speaks, they are usually using some part of their chest voice. Singing typically invokes the head voice - the higher notes. To better understand the differences between these voices, practice talking and then singing a few notes and spot the variation between your everyday voice and the higher pitches produced when you sing.
Remember that falsetto is even higher than your head voice. When you sing in your natural tones and then work on raising the pitch of your voice through the exercises discussed, you’re typically moving from head voice to falsetto singing.
Once you’ve learned how to sing falsetto notes, you’re ready to improve your falsetto voice with power and precision! Check out these tips for creating the best sound in your falsetto range.
Start with your voice in the highest range possible. Mimic the sound of a police siren, or create a very high-pitched chirping. Don’t worry about whether this sound is pleasant—you’re just trying to reach your highest pitch, so you get comfortable with that vocal range.
Next, start talking with your “little boy” voice, or pretend to use a high-pitched woman’s voice.
If you’re not sure what this means, do your best impression of Marilyn Monroe!
You should feel your voice resonating in the sinuses or the front of your face. Singers often feel a “muscle relief” with falsetto, so ensure you can feel your muscles relaxing at this stage.
The next step is to increase the pitch but not the volume. If you sing louder, you might find yourself falling to your head voice. Think of Marilyn Monroe whispering rather than a high-pitched singer screeching at the top of their lungs.
Note: If you feel vibrations in your chest, you have probably dropped out of falsetto.
Sing an “ooh” sound, feeling the mouth curve and open while you do. Continue to sing this sound while climbing to that top range again and then dropping slightly.
Go back and forth, noting where you feel vibrations. If you feel those vibrations dropping away from your sinuses, stop yourself and begin with your little boy voice again.
Ensure you’re keeping everything open and loose while going through these drills.
Your mouth should be open, your chest and lungs open and relaxed, and your shoulders loose but wide. Keep your tongue forward as well so that it doesn’t mask or muffle the sounds you produce.
Remember that vocal cords need to be stretched and thin and just barely touching when you sing high notes in any range, so mind your posture and movements as you reach for falsetto notes.
While it might be challenging to learn to sing falsetto, keep in mind that good singing requires lots of training.
Someone who doesn’t perform professionally might tell you that singing is a natural talent, while a professional and experienced performer will tell you that just about anyone can learn to sing a wide range of tones, including a beautiful falsetto.