Lift Up/Pull Back
The Lift Up/Pull Back technique helps new students and beginners to learn how to bridge from chest voice to head voice without breaking, pushing, or constricting. Before the explanation though, it is worth noting that this is not necessarily how we’ll be bridging once we’ve developed our physiology and once we’ve learned more advanced training skills. Instead, this is an interim exercise to help singers with the first stride towards a healthy and seamless connection between registers. As such, this exercise is meant for beginners and people that are having trouble bridging seamlessly from chest to head.
In short, Lift Up/Pull Back serves as a learning tool to shut down the constrictors. It teaches the body to stop engaging the musculature that gets involved when a singer pushes and strains. This is important because as a singer, you need to first learn how to disengage those muscles that are causing that choking sensation before you’re ready to learn the other techniques that teach you how to sound boomy in your head voice.
To do this technique, we start by phonating an onset on a comfortably low note and then perform a slow and controlled siren (or glacendo). While performing this siren, make an effort to train a gradual relaxation of the musculature instead of allowing the choking muscles to take over. Move a half step at a time and keep in mind that, as you go higher in frequency, you’d be incrementally letting a bit of wind past through which will remove the strain, the pushing, and the choking sensation. The resulting sound will be a bit “falsetto-ish”; however, there’s no need to worry about it as this windy sound is ok for this technique.
Like previously said, this sound isn’t necessarily pretty or impressive, it is not meant to be an end result, or meant to be used in a song. However, this training helps you shut down all the pushing and the strain that is preventing you from performing a successful bridge. A successful bridge, for all intents and purposes, doesn’t require you to sound great at first. All it requires is for you to be able to sing seamlessly from one register to the other without choking or sounding like a dying duck. After you’ve accomplished this, that’s when you can begin to work on adding color and beefing up the sound of your high notes.
Lastly, make sure that you don’t push when you’re practicing Lift Up/Pull Back. Try to go around the vocal break instead of going right through it. If you’re a beginner, this is an exercise that you should include as part of your daily training until you’ve achieved a constriction free bridge. It is a convenient exercise that you can include in parts of your daily life (car commutes, showers, etc) to get you closer to achieving powerful high notes.
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