Are there songs that you would love to sing but feel like you just can't hit those high notes? Whether you’re just starting out as a singer or have been at it for a while, there’s always room for improvement.
Learning what your vocal range is and how to expand it could get you where you want to be. If you’re tired of embarrassing yourself at Friday night karaoke, we have something that might help.
Although your vocal range is said to be predetermined genetically, by following this simple guide and putting in daily practice, you can learn how to increase vocal range by a few notes or even an octave or two, which could make a huge difference!
Knowing what your vocal range is super important as a singer, and learning how to expand it could open up a whole new world of singing abilities you never knew you had. Let us show you how!
Vocal range is defined, in general, as the lowest to highest note that you can sing comfortably. From Barry White to ACDC, vocal range varies from singer to singer. Our singing voices are amazing! Check out Tim Storms, who sings the lowest note in the world!
Vocal range is usually written by a letter followed by a number (for example, C4 – G3).
According to The New Harvard Dictionary of Music, there are four main types of vocal range along with the corresponding notes and octaves:
Understanding each of these groups and where you may be classified helps you know where your voice is the strongest, and it will help you when choosing songs that fit your vocal range.
Of course, what type of range your voice may be classified as depends on whether you’re a male or female singer and the type of singing you’re doing. You can learn more about these types of vocal ranges here.
So now that you know the main types of vocal range, how do you know what specific vocal range you are?
We have a great exercise for you to help you figure that out!
One easy way to find your vocal range is with an instrument. So grab a piano or keyboard and pencil and paper. The note C4 is a great place to start. It’s in the middle of most male and female vocal ranges.
Why Does Knowing the Measurement of Your Vocal Range Matter?
A singer that does not fully understand their vocal range may think they’re hitting that high note while singing an ACDC classic, but they’re in fact singing higher than their normal range, making it sound weak and not to its full potential.
This is especially important if you decide to compete. Knowing what songs you can convincingly and comfortably sing is the way to go. If Christina Aguilera and Mariah Carey's high notes are not in your range, please don't try to pull off one of their songs. It won't go as well as you think.
So are you stuck in your current vocal range forever? Not necessarily...
Simple Ways to Increase or Expand Your Current Vocal Range
Increasing or expanding your vocal range is possible but not easy. Nothing worth anything is. Following these simple steps will help simplify it for you.
To start, it’s super important to keep your voice healthy. Trying not to have your vocal cords strain too much is key — whether they’re straining from a late night of karaoke, letting that voice go in the car, or yelling at your kids too much in the morning (guilty).
When your voice does feel strained, you can eat and drink certain foods that may help to strengthen your voice. There are certain foods you may want to avoid as well. Click the link to find out what those are.
Posture is important! Have you ever noticed that your singing is just not as good when you’re sitting in a chair or slouched over? Do you tend to sit up straight and raise your chest when singing high notes?
That’s because posture matters. Standing up straight and tall, where your diaphragm can get the proper air, will help.
Also, relaxation is key. You don't want any tension in the tongue, throat, neck, or jaw. It makes sense that one of the strongest muscles in the body, the tongue, can get tense when we’re singing! A lot of times, we don't even know we’re tensing it.
One quick way to check for this tension is to place a thumb underneath your chin on the muscular tissue below where your tongue is. When you swallow, you can feel the tongue tighten. Make sure this area stays relaxed as you rest your tongue at the top of your bottom teeth while singing.
As well as tongue tension, you can literally see the tension in the neck when singing. You must have good breath support and learn to use that air properly instead of straining the neck muscles. Tension will squeeze around the larynx and not allow sounds to come out properly.
A quick exercise to release tension in the neck involves lowering your head and bringing your chin to your chest. Tilt your head to the right and to the left for about 30 seconds. Repeat a couple times on each side until your neck is properly loosened up.
Your jaw can also get very tense and make a difference in your singing range. Dropping your jaw as you ascend notes may be helpful to relax it.
A quick exercise to help further relaxation of the jaw is to let your mouth hang open and use two fingers on both sides of the jaw to gently massage in a circular motion the muscles by the ears.
Just like any muscle that needs to be warmed up before working it, your vocal cords are no different. Humming is a fantastic way to warm up your vocal cords. It doesn't have to be anything fancy. Just keep humming up and down the scale until they feel ready to go.
Knowing the difference between chest voice and head voice can make a difference in the way you sing.
Chest voice is the lower range of your voice. The notes you sing are more prominent in your 'chest.' One way to find this is to put a hand on collar bone, sing a low open note, and feel the vibration under your hand. Your normal speaking voice is in this range, and chest voice is created using thick vocal folds.
Check out more on discovering your chest voice here.
Head voice is the upper region of your voice range. These are more of the high-pitched notes. These notes or vibrations are more prominent in your 'head,' not so much in your chest.
A simple way to explore your head voice is to place your hand on your collar bone again and find a note similar to that of an owl hoot. In this way, you can see that the vibration is not in your chest as much but travels up into the head region. This range is created using thin vocal folds.
There’s no set time on how long it will take or by how much your vocal range will expand. Every voice is different, and where you’re at now and how much time you devote to your singing will determine how much your voice can improve.
Once you find your vocal range, you’re ready to get started on the path to becoming the singer you want to be.
Don't forget: Be careful not to overdo it and hurt your voice. Again, we must reiterate that only you know when your voice has had enough. If it starts to feel strained, stop, rest and hydrate.
Don't forget to get lots of rest, which will help prevent you from getting ill and hurting your voice and body. If you do get ill, take care of yourself!
Finding the proper technique and consistently practicing these great exercises are all you need. Doing these vocal exercises daily can help you get there quicker. Two to two and a half minutes an exercise is recommended. Try these exercises for a week and see what happens. What do you have to lose?
Also, remember that it takes time and isn’t easy! Please don’t get discouraged. It’s a slow process, and you may not see the change in your range as quickly as you would like.
Try some of these exercises and then check back a week later and let us know if there was a change. We want to help you succeed in getting your voice closer to where you want it to be. Let us know in the comments if you tried any of the exercises, and if so, feel free to share what worked or didn’t work for you.