Increase Vocal Range – Discover How To Increase Vocal Range
By: Aaron Anastasi
Most singers, whether seasoned or beginner, feel that their range is somewhat inadequate. Maybe you’ve also wondered how to increase your vocal range. There is always room for improvement, because you can always expand your range. The good news is that it is possible and is possible for you. Will it take some work? For sure. But with the right methods you can start seeing improvement in a shorter amount of time than you probably think. In this article you will discover…
- A few things to avoid while working to increase vocal range
- Techniques, other than scales, that will immediately increase your range
- What a blended, or mixed, voice is and how to get it
A Cautionary Tale
Before I jump into some techniques, let me take a second to talk about what to avoid. When I was a teenager I belonged to a small youth traveling choral group. I had a degree of natural talent as well as a little bit of training, but I was no Pavarotti and had plenty to learn when it came to vocal technique.
Being one of the younger members of the group, I always strove to get the solos that everyone wanted but mostly only the older members were given. But my day came. I was to sing the solo, the one that stood out above the rest, the one that would make me the envy of the group and cause the girls in the audience to swoon.
The problem was that there was one particular note, one section of the song, that I knew full well was beyond my range. But I figured, like many young singers do, that I would be fine because I would just belt the note. You may know where this is going. The song was a duet, and I was to sing it with one of, if not the, prettiest and most talented girls in the group. I was a little nervous, for sure, but also cocky. I thought to myself, “I got this.”
So the time came for the group to perform that particular song, and my duet partner and I stepped forward to the microphones. The song was going well at first. We were nailing our parts, and the crowd seemed pleased. However…once we arrived at the part of the song with the note well beyond my range, things got ugly. I forced that note with all that I had in me, thinking that volume and force would allow me to magically land smack dab on top of that note. Instead, a sound came out of my mouth that could best be compared to the squawk of a scared, injured bird—only louder! My duet partner broke character, the role of the smiley, happy duet partner, and gave me a look of horror that I will never forget. And out of the corner of my eye I could see the music director, whose jaw dropped and mouth hung wide open.
That was not one of my finer moments. What is the moral of the story? Several probably, but don’t push or force your voice is the main one. Pushing notes out to try and reach a higher pitch will only end up straining, and in some cases, damaging your vocal cords.
Things To Avoid
Okay, so avoiding pushing, straining is a big one. The goal, while working to expand you range, is to be able to sing higher, or lower, notes at a normal volume with a relaxed throat. This takes time, of course, but it will happen, and we’ll talk about how in just a second.
I can’t emphasize enough the importance of hydration in your voice and throat. Drinking lots of water is certainly the remedy for this, but there are a handful of things to avoid that will dry up your voice. Alcohol is a big dehydrator and so are antihistamines. Also, many types of prescription meds will do the same.
Another thing to avoid, that will diminish your ability to sing—even your current range—is dairy products hours, or even the day before, singing. As you may know, dairy products produce mucus, which is the enemy of the singer, getting in the way of the sinuses and coating the throat.
Techniques To Help Expand Vocal Range
The first thing that you can do, that doesn’t involve vocal warm ups and scales, is pay attention to your posture. This may seem like a small thing, but it will make all the difference in your singing. Sitting down or slouching, with shoulders forward and back hunched, makes it difficult for you to engage your diaphragm (which we’ll talk more about in a minute) and impossible to get the maximum amount of air needed into your lungs. I had a vocal teacher that would always say that the three most important things to remember when it comes to singing are air, air and air. You get the point. Without the proper, and maximum, amount of air, it is far more difficult to project, to sing on pitch and to sing with the wide range that you naturally have.
Another technique to consider is breath control. While that may refer to a lot of different things, what I specifically mean is not wasting air by letting it escape too quickly. Great singers monitor the amount of air that they exhale as they sing. The more slowly and steadily you let the air out, the more effective it will be for you. One way to work on this is to do a ten count as you exhale with pursed lips; then try 15 seconds, or more!
The Blended or Mixed Voice
As you may know, everyone has two to three registers—some argue two and others three. For guys and girls there is the chest voice and the head voice. The third for a guy would be falsetto, which isn’t technically a register, and for girls there is the whistle range. A blended or mixed voice means that the singer has smoothed out his or her transitions from chest to head and from head to falsetto (or whistle). This is the goal of most professional singers and is a truly expanded range, one wide range voice, without breaks from top to bottom.
Without getting too much into detail here, let me say a few quick things about how you acquire a blended voice. It takes time and practice to be sure, but the primary way that you work to smooth out the transitions, or breaks, in your voice is to do vocal exercises, whether scales or sliding, right where your break occurs. The scale, or sliding exercise, should start somewhere below the break and work its way through and beyond the break, or vice versa—started above and work down. For best result, do both!
That’s all for now. I hope some of this was helpful!