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How to Increase Vocal Range: A Complete Guide

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!

What Is Your Vocal Range, and What Are the Different Types?

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:

  • Alto - Means "high" in Italian. The corresponding notes and octaves that go with alto are usually G3 to E5. For females, alto is the lowest vocal range. In contrast, alto is the second-highest for males.
  • Bass - This vocal range is one of the rarest and is classified as the lowest of ranges. Bass is mainly classified as a male singing voice. The corresponding notes and octaves that go with bass are usually F2 to E4.
  • Tenor - This vocal range is the highest of the male singing range and also has one of the smallest ranges. The corresponding notes and octaves that go with tenor are usually C3 to A4.
  • Soprano - This vocal range is the highest of the female vocal range. It is a light and airy type of voice range. The corresponding notes and octaves that go with soprano are usually C4 to A5

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.

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How Can You Find Your Vocal Range?

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.

  • First, you’ll start at this note and go down the keyboard until you have reached the lowest note that you’re able to sing comfortably. Please mark down this note.
  • Then, you’ll go back to your C4 note and go in the opposite direction until you find the highest note that you can comfortably sing. Mark this note down as well, and voila: You have found your range!

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.

1. Improving Vocal Health

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).

  • Let your voice rest: It’s a good idea to let your voice rest when you start to feel that strain. Only you know when it’s too much for your voice to handle. Maybe skip that next song at the club and let your girls belt it while you sit this one out and let your vocal cords take a break.
  • Getting the proper rest: Of course, resting your entire body is beneficial as well. We have all been to an a.m. practice after a long night, rolling in with our sunglasses and our second cup of coffee. We don't feel well, and it shows in our performance. It’s hard to get the proper burst of energy and air into our lungs if we’re feeling sluggish and slow.
  • Hydration: Put down the coffee and grab that water bottle. According to The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, men need approximately 15.5 cups of fluids a day and women need approximately 11.5 cups. Getting the proper amount of fluids into our bodies will help keep our organs running and our bodies happy.
  • Try to avoid getting ill: No one wants or tries to get sick, but it’s especially important when you’re a singer not to sound like you have a toad in your throat. Making sure you’re washing your hand regularly or sanitizing when necessary is a strong recommendation. Getting lots of vitamin C and using a humidifier when your throat feels dry helps tremendously. Having some hot herbal tea with honey can do wonders as well.

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.

2. Singing With the Correct Technique

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.

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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.

3. Warming Up and Doing Regular Exercises

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.

  • The Siren Technique: This technique sounds exactly like its name. The sound you’re going for is like an emergency vehicle siren sound. You’re going to start with the vowels "ooh" or "ee" and start with a low note all the way through to your comfortable high notes. Then, do the same thing from the high notes to the low notes as well.
  • Bubble Lips or Tongue Trill Exercise: Men will start on a B2 and ladies on a F#3. You’ll push up your cheeks, bubble your lips, and make an 'uh' sound while they vibrate. The vibrations travel from chest to head voice while the larynx stays down.

4. Learning the Difference Between Chest and Head Voice

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.

How Long Does It Take To Increase Vocal Range?

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.

Author

  • Increase Vocal Range

    My "day job" used to be teaching but I decided to give that up to play music full time. I have gigged all over the world playing in bands or as a solo act since then. I still have a passion for teaching others anything related to music. Writing content for InciteMusic.com gives me an opportunity to combine my love of music and education.

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