Of Scales, Tension & Falsettos (Need Some Help!)

saifulrizal21saifulrizal21 Enrolled Posts: 39
Hey guys!

I have two questions regarding the vocal warmup of Volume 1.

Question 1

While doing the scales, Ken said to watch out for tension. I did that
and I know that there's always tension in my throat area. When I try
to reach for the higher notes, tension inevitably shows up in my face
and the throat area.

I believe this is what some of my friends told me - that I sing with the
throat. On the last set of scales, I was able to release the tension from
the throat.

However, I felt like I was singing from a place that I usually don't and
it felt very different. And my voice doesn't sound as "sharp". It sounds
more whole (which I believe is the aim) but at the same time I don't like
the sound because I loose that "sharpness", if you get what I mean. It
feels weird because I don't know if I'm on pitch.

What should I do about this to get rid of the tension on the throat and
face? Ken tells to watch out for it, but doesn't tell how to release it. Haha
Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Question 2

I realise that my range is quite limited. I can't seem to hit the last 5 to 6
notes that Ken goes on the scale.

So I switch to falsetto. Is that okay? Or is the whole point is to push
until you can't go any further with your singing voice.. and then stop?
And pick it up the next day?

Thanks a lot for the help people! May your own singing journeys be
filled with success!




  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,353
    edited November 2012


    We really need to hear a sample of what is happening with your voice.  A video demo would be even better.  That way we could see what is going on with your larynx, the tension, what it is that you are saying is the different voice. 

    I have a few ideas on what I think it might be that you are describing, but I also could be off-base, so it would be best for you to demonstrate what's happening. 

    I think we could help you and get you on your way past this point you're presently stuck at. 

    A few things to point out in general:

    A lower larynx will make a deeper tone.  A higher larynx is generally not desirable, but has a sharper tone to it.  There are a number of negative issues associated with a raised larynx. 

    Tension is something you need to learn to manage.  There will always be some tension, but you need to learn to shake it off when it starts to build, and be as relaxed as possible, especially as the scales get more difficult. Constantly monitor for tension in these areas and keep shaking it off when it builds.  

    A good way to help ward off tension in the throat is to use your diaphragmatic engine and proper breath support.  You should channel all of your tension and power into your breath support and away from your throat.  You will find that this is the magic bullet that will allow you to sing with power, yet relieve tension from your throat area.  Let the diaphragm and your abdominal muscles do all the work while you release tension from your chest, neck, throat, and face.  Give it all up to the power house!!

    As to your range question, on Stage One, you should be learning to bridge from your chest voice into your head voice.  Falsetto is a weaker, airy version of head voice.  Head voice is a higher registration of your voice with full cord closure.  If you haven't watched the [01/09/12] Head Voice [2] webinar, you should do so.  It may help you to learn more about head voice vs falsetto and vs chest voice.

    You should try to take your chest voice as high as you can before bridging to head voice, but once you get as far as you can, you then should do a smooth transition through your passagio, and continue on in the exercises with head voice.  No problem with that.  Build chest as high as you can, but there will be a limit, and beyond that limit you need to bridge and work on transitioning smoothly and managing your head voice with good cord closure and a bright, timbral (chest-like) sound.

    If you post a link to some video vocal demos, we can pinpoint what's happening and aim you in the right direction with more precision.

    Thanks, and good singing to you!



  • saifulrizal21saifulrizal21 Enrolled Posts: 39
    Hi Bob! Thank you for the wonderful constructive comment! :) You never fail to amaze me with how much you give to this community! :)

    All right back to the topic, I think I have a problem deciphering if two notes are the same pitch if they have different tones. I think that will come as I consistently do the scales so no worries there.

    I used your "magic bullet" for the video to show you where the tension is. And guess what? I was able to go like 3 notes higher than usual! HAHA HIGH 5 BOB! Good one there!

    And I've downloaded the Head Voice webinar thanks!

    A bit busy with final exams this week till 5th December but wanted to make sure I spent half an hour doing my scales. By the way, for Volume 1, that's all I have to do on a daily basis right?

    Ok Bob, I'm gonna upload my video in a bit! THANKS ALOT AGAIN!
  • saifulrizal21saifulrizal21 Enrolled Posts: 39
    edited November 2012
    Here you go Bob :



    P.S. I love how YouTube seems to be mocking my tension face when singing lol
  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,353
    edited November 2012


    Thanks for getting back to me so quickly with a video demo.  It makes this a lot easier for us all.

    Firstly, let me say you are on a good track.  For the length of time you have been working on Stage One, you don't sound that bad at all.  There are a number of opportunities for improvement, and identifying these areas and getting some direction there is a great way to grow your voice in the right ways. 

    To me, I think you may be having a little more trouble with your lowest notes rather than your highest notes.  Your pitch is off a bit on the very lowest notes of the beginning scales.  You are having trouble getting down that low, so you are a bit sharp as in singing above the correct pitch.

    You need to brighten up your tone.  Listen to the "It's the LAH!  AH!! AH!!!" video.  Where Ken tells you that you're going to think you're going "AH!" but you really need to be that much more "AH!!!" This applies to you...  Really open that throat up and make the tone REALLY REALLY BRIGHT.  So bright that you think it's WAY TOO BRIGHT. That's about right.  It sounds different to the rest of us than it does to you from inside your head... 

    You will find that when you REALLY BRIGHTEN up your tone, you will be able to discern pitch differentiation with much greater precision. That's an absolute MUST for anyone who is having any difficulties at all regarding Pitch.  (Time out for a commercial:  Have you watched the recent Webinar on PITCH AND TONE?  If not, there's another homework assignment for you and anyone else having pitch and/or tone issues.  Pitch and Tone work hand-in-hand together.

    Now, regarding your high notes and shifting into head voice, you seem to be doing a good job at that.  Work on getting a little more cord closure once you connect into head voice.  A bright, timbral sound will help to make your voice more cohesive between chest and head. 

    You want to have that bright, timbral sound down low.  Yes, when you go down low, you need to have the high-frequency component of your bright sound happening even on your lowest notes, and continuing all the way up to your highest notes.  Bright all the way.  You also want to maintain a low frequency component to your voice throughout your range.  This beefs up the highs as well as the low notes.  It's called Chiaroscuro, which in Italian means HIGH/LOW.  It's like turning up the Treble control as well as the Bass control on your stereo system to get the biggest, best sound out of your system.  It just sounds better.

    Again, the bright sound will help you to discern pitch throughout your vocal range.  In your demo, I hear a lot of room for you to brighten up your vocal production.  Really crisp it up! 

    Strengthening your Breath Support will also help to crisp up your timbral sound and give your voice more responsiveness and power.  You need to do all that you can to build your support so that you can rely on support instead of trying to sing from your throat.  Your abdominal musculature is much more powerful than the tiny muscles in your larynx will ever be.  Take advantage of that fact and learn to power your voice from down below. 

    No matter how much you strain your chest, neck, throat, and facial muscles, you will never be able to power your voice by tensing these areas up.  They may tense a bit no matter what, but put tension to work for you in your diaphragmatic support system.  That's where you get more bang for your buck from muscular effort!  Relax the areas that don't need the tension, and channel the energy to your abdomen.

    Keep your shoulders hanging down loose.  Where you are bridging to head voice is fine.  No problem with that.  You say you have some issues with asthma.  That's all the more reason to build your diaphragmatic support system.  You have to rely on your support in order to have a stable voice.  Don't let the asthma hold you back from developing your voice.  You can do this. 

    Good job.  Keep up the good work!



  • saifulrizal21saifulrizal21 Enrolled Posts: 39
    Hey Bob!

    Thanks so much for getting back to me so promptly! You've been a HUGE
    help since DAY 1! :)I really appreciate all your constructive criticism and
    every comment you give has helped me GET IT. A little part of this journey
    to singing my best!

    Like you said that the muscles in my diaphragm will be much much stronger
    than the ones in my larynx and other parts of my body. I now understand
    that there IS supposed to be "TENSION" in diaphragmatic breathing that
    helps push that air out! Always thought that it would feel less tense somehow.
    I really GET IT NOW! Thanks a lot for that. I finally get what Trine was talking about
    when she said "going to the bathroom" feeling hahaha!

    QUESTION : So is this tension supposed to be done in bursts like "Its the LAH!"
    Or am I supposed to hold it out throughout the phrases I'm singing and especially
    for those long notes?

    Anyways, I'll work with what you've given me! A lot to work on!

    Didn't realise about the weakness of my low register until you mentioned it!

    Thanks a lot Bob!


  • saifulrizal21saifulrizal21 Enrolled Posts: 39
    edited November 2012
    Omg Bob, I was just playing with the tips you were giving me and I just
    managed to do my very first successful transition to the head voice!

    Check it out:


    But I think I really over-trained cause now that G4 note is gone when
    I try to sing it again - probably strained vocal chords! Yikes!

    BIG QUESTION: Does this sound like me belting or transitioning to
    head voice? This is important as I've heard that the former can be
    pretty damaging.

    P.S. The transition was good but the lack of control (and excitement)
    made the rest of it a trainwreck so I'm sorry in advance to your ears lol
  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,353


    Most of the increased breath support will come on the higher notes.  The higher the note, the more support is needed, and when it reaches the peak on the high note, you still press down until you are about 3/4 of the way down from the highest notes.  THEN you NEED TO RELAX the downward push.  You must rest the support when it is not needed, or you will wear your support system down and give up on it. 

    It's like your heart rests in-between beats.  It cannot remain tensed ALL the time.  Your diapragmatic support system rests in-between the higher notes.  You don't want to sing high notes all the time, or they will lose their meaning and value.  The expressiveness of music is in the variation.  Occasionally you will sing a song that belts right out of the starting gate until the end, but nobody wants to hear that ALL THE TIME.

    In your second demo above, It sounds like you did a G#4.  Since you're doing it acapella, you have no reference track, and you were singing the whole thing a half-step higher than you thought you were.  You have pretty good cord closure, and the tone is getting better.  

    It sounds like you may be stretching your chest up to that G or G#.  You will find that powering the note from down under works a lot better for you than tensioning up above.  I hear no falsetto at all, and if you are bridging into head, then you are doing it right, because the tone sounds chest-like and timbral.

    There are a few places where you use a little bit of "goat's wiggle" vibrato.  That could be improved by holding a straight tone (via more support), or eventually by learning to slow that vibrato down into a more relaxed-sounding, light and easy oscillation.  (and now for a word from our sponsor, see KTVA webinar on Vibrato).

    And Saif, you are welcome.  You are eager to learn, and that makes helping you a pleasure.  The questions you ask that we answer help others to learn as well.  This place and all of KTVA is about helping us all to help one another to soar like an eagle when we sing, and to let our hearts express what we feel inside to others.  It's an honor to help you to get to where you want to be.

    Keep on singing!


  • saifulrizal21saifulrizal21 Enrolled Posts: 39
    Hey Bob! I'm starting to get what you said about the 3/4 push thing!

    And yes I agree with you that the expressiveness of music is in the variation.

    And I was reading up and watching some videos on the headvoice and I realize
    that when I recorded that part, it felt very "HEAVY". So I believe I WAS stretching
    my chest voice up to that G#.

    So my question is how do I transition from that chest voice into my head voice?
    I seem to be stuck here.

    And I don't know if you can call that "goat's wiggle" a vibrato (it sounds more like
    a wavering note to me) but I did what you advised me to do, and it worked! :)
  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,353


    You transition from chest into head by releasing chest into head through your passagio.  You should be doing the vowel modifications as you approach the passagio, and by the time you make it into the OO modification, you should be shooting the air straight up into the top/back of your head, and maintaining good cord closure.  You drop off the weight but keep the bright, timbral sound, and keep on going up in head voice.  If you hit a speed bump and yodel, you need to back off on the air pressure until there is no break and the sound remains connected.


  • saifulrizal21saifulrizal21 Enrolled Posts: 39
    Hi Bob, thanks again for your detailed answer.

    I've been experimenting the past couple of days
    and I don't know if I'm using head voice or falsetto.

    Here's a sample of how it sounds like :


    Please let me know if I'm doing it right! Thanks :)

    P.S. I was lying down when I was playing with the
    scales so the quality of sound wasn't that good. :S

    Thanks Bob!
  • sspatricksspatrick Enrolled Posts: 1,278
    Hey Saif,

    It does sound like you are going into head voice. Falsetto would be much breather in tone and you would have a definite break. Try to keep that bright tone that you are starting with on lah and keep it all the way up. Bright bright bright. Remember only as loud as you need to be to eliminate the speed bump and maintain the bright tone. You can add more power as you get used to the feeling. Good work.
  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,353


    I agree with Scott, you did go into Head Voice, not falsetto on the AH portion of your demo.  The "uh" portion was a bit nondescript. 

    I would encourage you to improve your posture on future recordings.  Lying down when recording demos is against the rules!   Posture, Chest expanded, breathe from belly, AH, EH, AA, EE, OH, OOH...

    And, as Scott said, BRIGHT !

    Keep pressing onward! You're figuring it out! Bright and Timbral sound.



  • highmtnhighmtn Administrator, Moderator, Enrolled, Pro, 3.0 Streaming Posts: 15,353
    edited December 2012


    Regarding the pushing down, think more in terms of the extended belly, the expanded lower abdominal region all the way around the abdominal cavity, and pushing down on your insides as you get higher, and until you have come almost all the way back down from the high notes.  You then relax, totally, this area before the next phrase comes along.  You must not lock down the muscles without the relaxation, or you will bind up and be unable to maintain and sustain this kind of muscular support. 

    When you press down, you are opposing the rise of the diaphragm by pushing down.  This creates an equilibrium that you can vary in order to regulate the pressure and the flow of the singing breath. Higher notes take a little more pressure in order to push the tighter cords apart, yet the regulation is very fine and critical in order to avoid overblowing the cords.

    We are needing to master every possible muscular variable at hand in order to control a process that otherwise is done subconsciously even when we sleep.

    Normal, everyday breathing is done without support.  We just breathe.  New air in, old air out.  If we run, we breathe faster.  If we sleep, we snore.

    When we sing, the entire process rides on the wings of the breath. Our lungs alone, need help, or support.  We have several auxilliary methods of bolstering and buttressing our breath for singing beyond the diaphragm muscle alone.  These methods are lumped together and called "Support".


Sign In or Register to comment.