We have all been there right!? You’re singing your favorite song and then the chorus comes and you start climbing up and then you try to reach for that note and then you tense up to get to it and crack!
When we want our high notes to be strong, that is when it becomes difficult. Usually when we sing we are able to sing falsetto or a light head voice, or singers have to strain and push hard to reach the note, which can cause a lot of pain. So why do we have this constant power struggle between falsetto and pulling/straining! Well there has to be a perfect balance of air flow, muscle resistance at the vocal folds and resonance. When we strive for those strong and powerful high notes all three of those things need to be in alignment, but for now lets learn about the muscles of the vocal cords.
When it comes to making pitch the vocal cords have two main muscles. These muscles are on the outside of the vocal cords. They pull and stretch them making them thinner and tighter, like a rubber band. This muscle is the Cricothyroid muscle or the CT muscle. It is responsible for phonation and most importantly singing high notes! Then there are the TA muscles or the Thyroaryetenoid muscles. These muscles are part of the vocal cords. If these muscles tighten they make the cords shorter and thicker, which make the low notes.
So why is this so hard? First off we rarely just use the CT or TA muscles, it is a constant power struggle between the two. If we want to hit that high note with power then we will need the CT muscles to thin out the cords and stretch them, to get pitch but to get the strength we need to use the TA muscle at the same time which makes the cord thicker. When the TA muscle does this the cords get a bit flatter and gives us a bigger sound. If you over use these muscles it makes them too flat and then they are stuck together.
How can we work on this? Well it takes lots of practice. Just like working out at the gym everyday, we practice every day. Being aware of the two muscles involved and understanding that the TA (the low notes) can be the main issue. If they get jammed and feel like its too much they will stop and leave the party. Work on high notes by singing lighter. Then slowly add more and more TA. If you feel like you’re about to crack, or you’re pulling or straining then you have too much TA. The more you can learn about the voice and singing the better off you will be!!