Music & Entertainment

Learn to Sing High Notes Like Christina Aguilera: 7 Essential Tips for Hitting High Notes

Written by MasterClass

Oct 31, 2018 • 5 min read

MasterClass Video Lessons

Christina Aguilera Teaches Singing

Popstar Christina Aguilera, whose Top-40 hits include “Dirrty” and “Reflection,” is a powerful vocalist who can belt high notes—and sustain those high notes for a long time. Here are 7 singing tips and vocal techniques that will help you become a better singer and gain the confidence to hit high notes like Aguilera.

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Tip 1: Know Your Range

One of the first steps to getting to those high notes is to know what high notes your voice can hit. Every person has a vocal range, typically between one-and-a-half and two octaves, though professional singers are usually trained to sing beyond that to three or even four octaves. The word for the range of comfortable notes in your vocal register is “tessitura.” The typical vocal ranges are:

  • Soprano: from middle C to high C
  • Mezzo Soprano: from A below middle C to A above high C
  • Contralto / Countertenor: from F below middle C to the second F above middle C
  • Tenor: from B below middle C to A above middle C
  • Baritone: from the second G below middle C to F above middle C
  • Bass: from the second E below middle C to E above middle C

Tip 2: Warm Up Your Vocal Cords

Like athletes, professional singers warm up before they perform. Vocal cords that are relaxed are easier to stretch long and thin, which is how those high notes are made. There are a few simple vocal warm up exercises you can do before singing high notes that will improve your results.

  • Begin with breathing exercises, which help you relax and ease tension. With your lips gently sealed, take a deep breath in through your nose, then release your breath while softly humming. Repeat this warm up technique until you feel you have control over your breath.
  • Ease tension by rolling your neck around from side to side. You can also massage your jaw and neck.
  • Warming vocal exercises also help your vocal cords come to life. Try making deep purring sounds, executing vocal runs by singing a single note up and down in scale, or practice singing your octaves.
  • Start singing in your neutral voice and slowly work your way up the scale. This will exercise your vocal cords, helping to make them longer and thinner.

Tip 3: Maintain Good Vocal Hygiene

Food and drink have a significant impact on your vocal health, which can help or hurt your performance.

  • Instead of enjoying cold drinks, which can shrink the vocal cords, build heat in your vocal cords by drinking hot water, either plain or with honey, or herbal tea.
  • Avoid milk and other dairy products, as these or prompt your body to produce mucus around the vocal cords.
  • Limit your consumption of caffeine, antihistamines, and alcohol (including mouthwash), which lead to dehydration.
  • Above all, don’t smoke.

Tip 4: Pay Attention to Your Posture

The best singers know that your singing posture is just as crucial to hitting high notes as your singing technique.

  • While singing, maintain good posture by holding your chest high and pointing your shoulders down or slightly back.
  • Keep your core engaged, and relax the rest of your body, particularly your hands and knees.
  • When trying for higher notes, you may find yourself pointing your chin out and up in an attempt to “reach” them. This posture can create additional tension in your throat, making it even harder to hit a high note with power. Instead, try to keep your chin parallel to the floor and slightly tucked in.

Tip 5: Use Your 3 Voices

There are three different ways to sing: chest voice, head voice, and a mixed voice. Each of these techniques has benefits for singing high notes.

  1. Chest voice. Your chest voice is your speaking voice. It comes mainly from your diaphragm and the thicker, shorter vocal folds therein. This is where the voice sounds most powerful, clear, and full, and therefore where most singers draw the majority of their notes from, including low notes. When singing or speaking with your chest voice, you will feel a vibration in your upper chest. Singing high notes with your chest voice is called “belting,” and is a way to provide power to those high notes, giving them a fuller, grittier sound.
  2. Head voice. Also known as falsetto, your head singing voice uses longer, thinner vocal folds, which makes it easier to reach a higher range. Try talking in a high-pitched, squeaky voice like Mickey Mouse. Do you feel the vibration on the back of your neck? That is your falsetto. Many male singers are particularly known for their falsettos. Justin Timberlake has a famous falsetto which he uses to his advantage in songs like “Cry Me a River,” and Adam Levine of Maroon 5 is known for his falsetto in “She Will Be Loved.”
  3. Mixed voice. Mixed voice is a method of singing that uses both your chest voice and your head voice: the head voice allows you to reach higher notes, while the chest voice provides strength. Singing in this area of your chest and throat can give you better control over your voice and the notes you can hit.

Tip 6: Aim for the Second Highest Note

Like any kind of performance, singing is a psychological battle, and aiming for the highest note in your repertoire can be daunting. Approach a high note hesitantly, and you’re unlikely to sing it effectively.

Tip 7: Practice, Practice, Practice

The ability to sing high notes is rarely natural: it requires constant vocal training, even for famous singers. In addition to the above singing tips, a daily vocal routine will help you improve from a good singer to a great singer. If you need help, consider taking singing lessons from a qualified vocal coach.

Professional vocalists constantly practice in order to sing better and fine tune their high notes. Taking the time and dedication to practice will train your vocal cords so that you can hit those high notes with power and precision.

Want to Become a Better Singer?

Whether you’re an aspiring singer-songwriter or have dreams of changing the world with your music, navigating the complex world of record labels and contracts can be daunting. No one knows this better than legendary pop star Christina Aguilera. In Christina Aguilera’s MasterClass on singing, the Grammy Award winner shares all she knows about warm-up exercises, breath control, vibrato, and how to achieve those signature growls.

Want to become a better musician? The MasterClass All-Access Pass provides exclusive video lessons from master musicians, pop stars, and DJs including Christina Aguilera, Timbaland, Usher, Armin van Buuren, and Deadmau5.

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