I think I broke something!

QUESTION from professional singer:

Hi Sharon! Thanks for your message. I am recording a lot this summer and I’m having difficulty with my high notes that were extremely weak and my break is noticeable. “It doesn’t matter how much air I use, the note didn’t get any stronger…” What do you think? Kat P.


A full 75% of the questions I get are…THIS QUESTION! That means that this is obviously an important and pressing question to many singers. The wording is different every time…”transitional notes,” “my break,” “passaggio,” “between voices,” “I’m weak on the high end, once I reach a certain point,”…but the question is the same: “How do I get rid of my ‘break’?”


What is your “break?” When singers talk about a break, they are referring to the notes where the voice reaches a “shifting point” in their range (high/low), where something must happen in order to go any higher without hurting their voices. What most often happens is…the voice “breaks” into falsetto (hence the article’s title: “I Think I Broke Something”). The vocal cords dump their tension and pull apart slightly so that only their very slight edge is vibrating. Our voices learn this when we are young, just playing around and experimenting. The cords are actually just vibrating along their thin mucous edge. So we are able to produce the higher notes (and quite easily), but the tone changes so drastically between our “normal” lower voice and this “false voice” that it really does sound like you “BROKE SOMETHING.” Though falsetto has uses (emotional effect in certain songs), most singers HATE the fact that they HAVE to do it to reach higher notes. They go from sounding strong to sounding weak in a single note; thus the common question about getting rid of “my break.”


Singers complain of needing “more strength” or “more power,” when the problem is often the “weak” sound of falsetto. Singers complain of needing “more range” or “more notes,” when the problem is the need for more notes in a FULL VOICE. Singers complain of needing to “learn to breathe” or “need to get more support” but even that is often an attempt to GUESS what might help them get more notes in a FULL VOICE. (Kat, you said, “It doesn’t matter how much air I use, the note didn’t get any stronger…” This is because if you don’t get the cords to do the right thing, more air won’t help at all. Imagine someone saying “I can’t get the car to start, so I’ll sit here and push on the gas pedal a little harder.” Once the car is started, pushing on the gas will result in more speed, but not before.)


Virtually ALL tenors reach their shifting point around the same 3 notes … F, F#, G! (Women, except for extremely low Altos, reach their first shifting point around the A, Bflat, B above the males.) To be certain, SOME SINGERS simply FIND their way by accident so that they can pass into a MIX voice without ever being TAUGHT to do so. We all look at these kind of singers and use words like “He’s a natural” and “Wow, she was born with an amazing range.”

But these singers don’t produce tone with any different equipment than the rest of us. Ms. Kaye’s exercises teach your cords to do what these “naturals” have learned to do: Gradually transition from chest voice to head voice and back again without strain or pain. These exercises have never failed me.

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