10 Easy Tips On How To Sing Higher In Chest Voice

how to sing higher in chest voice

Singers of all persuasions want to sing higher. 

A soaring chorus and bridge are exciting to perform and engaging for the audience to listen to. 

But the effort of singing in your chest voice at higher ranges is tough.

As a music teacher, it’s one of the things people have asked me for help on over the many years. 

I often end up giving the same advice over and over, so I decided to write down the tips on how to sing higher in chest voice for you to reference as needed. 

Singing higher in chest voice requires a mix of practice, placement, and vocal health. Tips for singing higher include: 

  • Expand Your Air Support
  • Warmup Regularly
  • Keep Up With Your Vocal Health
  • Find Your Placement
  • Practice Good Posture
  • Engage Your Diaphragm
  • Pull Your Head Voice Down To Mix Your Voice
  • Practice Regularly
  • Listen To The Pros
  • Follow A Singing Program

Let’s dig into each of these tips in more detail in the rest of the article below. 

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Expand Your Air Support

Without air, there is no singing. 

Without intentional air and breathing, there is no high singing. 

Belting or singing higher in your chest or mixed voice requires quite a bit of air. 

To this end, you need to make practicing your breathing a part of your regular routine. 

Breathing is a muscular act, and like other muscular acts, you can train your strength and coordination for better performance. 

Here’s a quick exercise for you to try: 

  1. Sit or stand with good posture. 
  2. Inhale through your mouth (not your nose) and take a full, comfortable breath. 
  3. Now, make a hissing sound and exhale every bit of air in your body. Don’t collapse your shoulders or chest. 
  4. Breathe in again but make it a goal to take in a little more air than the first breath. It may feel like your chest is “stretching” a bit. That’s just fine! 
  5. Exhale on a hiss. 
  6. Repeat your inhale, taking in even more air than before. 
  7. Repeat this exercise 5-7 times total. 

This exercise physically stretches the intercostals and diaphragm responsible for breathing and offers you more lung capacity with practice. 

Using this greater air to send your voice to greater heights will help you sing higher with your full voice.  

Warmup Regularly

You never see a true athlete going right into their event with no warmup. 

Someone who just rolls out of bed and runs a marathon is going to have big problems, right?

They won’t perform as well, and they are much more likely to get injured. 

The same thing will happen to you with your singing, especially when it comes to belting higher pitches. 

Always set aside at least 10 minutes, if not 20 minutes, for a nice warmup. 

You’ll be amazed at how much a good warmup will make your chest voice sing higher with little effort. 

Good warmups make the vocal folds more flexible and increase blood flow to reduce damage to the tissue. 

For me, I recommend every warmup consist of the following elements: 

  1. Posture practice and mental centering
  2. Breathing exercises
  3. Vocal sirens
  4. Mid-range scale patterns
  5. Lower chest voice range step-wise vocal stretching
  6. Ascending mid-high range scales. 
  7. Quick pronunciation exercises with small scale patterns (or in speaking voice)
  8. Low to high (and keep going higher) arpeggios and jumping around with your voice
  9. A simple vocal etude or lullaby to bring it all home

If you only have a few minutes, keep it simple. 

A five-minute warmup like this will help a lot too! 

Keep Up With Your Vocal Health

Vocal health is critical for the ability to sing higher. 

If your muscles and vocal cords are strained, they won’t be able to work as well. 

The number one key for all vocal health is hydration. 

We’re pushing air through wet tissue for a long period of time. 

Your voice will get dried out and strained, and it won’t sound as pure. 

Some say it sounds almost grunge-like, but you don’t want to sound like this because of fatigue and a dried larynx. 

Further Reading: Tips for singing grunge

Drink water (and only water) just before, during, and after you sing. 

Avoid caffeine before you sing for at least an hour. 

Don’t eat and avoid hot drinks (warm are great!). 

If your voice is strained, rest it. Drink soothing liquids like broth or honey-based throat lozenges. 

Find Your Placement

Everyone’s voice is made up of vocal registers. 

The head voice is when your vocal folds sing or talk and leave more space between them as they vibrate. 

It’s a thinner sound, but they are pulled in such a way to allow you to sing higher. 

The chest voice happens when your folds close all the way as they vibrate. 

This helps you sing lower, but it allows you to sing with a more powerful sound. 

Most people talk with their chest voice. 

Now, truth be told, the head voice actually uses some chest voice in it. 

A pure head voice with no vocal closing at all is called falsetto

Falsetto is thin, airy, and sings very high. 

It’s quite popular with pop ballads. 

It’s also called a little kid voice, baby voice, and men singing in a “girl voice” (which I absolutely hate, and it’s also wrong, but that may give some of you some context). 

Further Reading: Falsetto and head voice comparison 

Most people’s head register is actually a mixed register. 

It’s what we want in our higher singing. 

But if you want to belt and sing with higher notes in chest voice, you need to start by extending your chest voice and finding the right placement. 

Placement, for me, means where you “send the voice” to. 

In chest voice at lower ranges, I imagine my voice coming through my mouth and lower nasal cavity. 

In my head voice, I imagine the sound sending from my forehead. 

This is placement. 

For a high chest voice or belt, you need to find what works for you. 

For me (and every voice is different), the answer is to aim for my sound to come out right between my eyes. 

Practice Good Posture

You can put the world’s best jockey on a horse, but that doesn’t mean the horse will run fast. 

Both need to be present in equal amounts. 

By the same token, you can ask Christina Aguilera, Sam Smith, Michael Buble, Idina Menzel, or whoever to sing, but if you make them curl themselves in a ball or slouch to their knees, they’ll never sound as good. 

Why? Your posture determines your foundation. 

Poor posture: 

  • Limits air capacity (therefore limiting vocal range)
  • Deters blood flow
  • Increases muscular tension and limits flexibility
  • Decreases mental focus and acuity

Always ensure your posture is ideal, centered, and free. 

Engage Your Diaphragm

Your diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscle underneath your lungs, where your abdomen meets your lower ribs. 

It’s the muscle mainly responsible for expanding and contracting to pull air into your lungs. 

For singing higher, it’s the muscle you want to actively engage to provide more air for your voice. 

If you are able to watch great singers when they get to high and loud notes, their stomachs will appear to tighten as they sing. 

This is the diaphragm and other abdominal muscles engaging in lifting more air out to make the voice bigger and higher. 

To increase diaphragm coordination, pick a scale singing exercise you like. 

Place one hand on the top of your stomach. 

Sing each note with a powerful “ha” sound at the start of it. 

You should feel your stomach move with each H sound. 

Now, when you are going to sing higher in your chest voice, place your hand on your stomach. 

Imagine starting those notes with an H sound too. 

Feel your abs engage and push the air out. 

The extra air energy will help you sing higher! 

Pull Your Head Voice Down To Mix Your Voice

Singing higher with a full voice is tough. 

It’s something classical singers, musical theatre, and several other genres do all the time. 

But for some people, all it takes to make immediate progress is a mental trick. 

Yes, we want to extend our lower chest voice up higher, but this will often make you sing forced and tense. 

Instead, consider the opposite! 

Start with a light head voice and start bringing more of the chest voice in. 

It’s here that feeling comfortable with your vocal placement will really help. 

Sing the high part in a lighter voice, your head voice, or even falsetto. 

Notice where it feels like your placement is. 

Now, alter your voice to: 

  • Add more air and volume
  • Lower the placement gradually
  • Bring your vowels forward in your mouth and nose

Over time, you’ll gradually be able to add more chest into your head voice and make the truly powerful mix voice, so many professional singers use with success! 

Practice Regularly

If singing is a physical act (and it is), the next logical step is to go through vocal exercises with regularity. 

Consistency over time will beat spurts of activity any day of the week. 

It’s better to practice for 30 minutes every day than to practice for three hours one day per week. 

Those muscles and coordination will only build up over time. 

It’s not an easy fix. 

Make a schedule and stick to it. 

At the bare minimum, aim for 30 minutes of intentional singing practice 5 days per week. 

Listen To The Pros

Voice types make things tricky for giving specific vocal advice on topics like this. 

Every voice type uses registers in a different way. 

The way I, as a baritone, sing higher with chest voice is much different than a tenor and especially a soprano. 

To this end, you need to listen to experts of your vocal type

Do a quick search for famous blank singers and replace the “blank” with your voice type. 

Listen and notice how they sing their high notes. 

If you don’t know your voice type, this video should give you a quick clue, though a vocal coach will be able to give you an even clearer answer. 

Follow A Singing Program

Singing programs will help by building your fundamentals and providing clear instruction for your specific voice. 

Look for group classes through your local music store or university. 

I know a lot of friends who took a Vocal Techniques class at my university before joining the choir we sang in together. 

Often, they’ll have a class for non-music majors, so you don’t have to audition or anything. 

If the idea of paying for credits like that is hard to swallow, there are a few online programs that are pretty good. 

My favorite is the 30-Day Singer. 

It has a ton of quality lessons and voice teachers for each voice type. 

Get all the experience of singing lessons at a fraction of the price (and at your own speed) with 30 Day Singer.

Zach VanderGraaff

Zach VanderGraaff is a K-5 music teacher in Michigan with 12 years of experience. He's the President of the Michigan Kodaly Educators and founder of the Dynamic Music Room.

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