How to Expand Your Singing Voice Range
Every person is born with a fixed vocal range. If you are a tenor, you won’t ever become a baritone because your vocal cords won’t allow that. However, by learning to sing notes at the top and bottom of your range more comfortably, you can push your voice to new highs and lows. To expand within your vocal range, master basic singing techniques such as breathing, relaxation, and posture, then touch upon notes on the edge of your range in practice.
Find your natural range.The easiest way to do this is to have a voice coach help you, but you can figure it out on your own. Start with a middle C on a keyboard. Play it and match it with your voice. Do this again with the next note down and continue until you reach a note you cannot sing without straining your vocal cords. This is the bottom of your range. Repeat this process going up in pitch to find the top of your range.
- Search online for videos of notes played up and down the keyboard if you don’t have access to a keyboard.
Move through your normal range.Start with your normal range. Repeat a simple sound such as “la,” moving up and down your range. Master that first, touching upon notes at the high and low end of the range. Don’t linger on notes that put a strain on your throat. Focus on staying relaxed and breathing properly. Perform scales at least eight to ten times a day in practice.
- Continue this range practice daily until you can hit the difficult notes eight to ten times in a session.
Work up to difficult notes.Continue to use the scale exercise, attempting to sustain difficult notes for longer periods of time. Add in other exercises to loosen your vocal cords. Take a break whenever you feel uncomfortable. The more you reach these notes, the easier time you’ll have singing them without pain.
- One exercise you can add is slides. Sing a note. Instead of moving back and forth, stop at the next note. Do this for each note until you reach the end of your range.
- Another exercise is to grunt. Grunt to shorten your vocal cords, then sing a short word like “mom” in a note in your range. Move up or down your range each time.
Round vowel sounds.Change the sounds of vowels during higher notes to put less pressure on your vocal cords. Try rounding your mouth into a loose oval shape as you speak a word such as “time.” Let your jaw drop and your tongue loosen. The “i” will take on an “ah” sound.
- This isn’t useful at the lower end of your range because your vocal cords are already shortened. Use scale practice exercises to reach those notes.
Transition to normal vowel sounds.At first you can try singing individual words at the top of your range. Sing the word out loud, keeping the vowel sound rounded. At the end of the word, allow your throat to open so the vowel sound ends in the normal pronunciation. For example, transition back from an “ah” sound in “time” to the normal long “i” sound. As long as the normal sound returns before the next consonant, the word will still sound right to listeners.
- As you practice singing songs, incorporate this vowel modification into words on high notes until it becomes second nature.
Substitute words.When you stumble over a certain word at a tough note in the middle of a song, substitute it for a simpler word such as “noo.” Practice the song again with the substitution until you are comfortable enough hitting the note to put the original word back in.
- Vowel modification can be used in conjunction with word substitution, such as when substituting “thet” for “that.”
Mastering Basic Singing Techniques
Warm up before you sing.You should always take the time to loosen your vocal cords before you start. This is necessary to reach notes on the edges of your range and avoid damaging your voice. Possible warm ups include performing trills, moving up and down your range with “me” or “oo” sounds, holding your mouth in an “o” and buzzing, and humming.
- For trills, place your lips together and make an “h” or “b” sound (lip trills) or place your tongue behind your upper teeth and make an “r” sound (tongue trills) as you move up and down your vocal range.
- You should also repeat exercises when you are finished singing to cool down your vocal muscles.
Breathe properly while singing.Expanding your range involves mastering the basics of singing. One of these techniques is proper breathing. Inhale deeply so the diaphragm muscle under your lungs pushes your stomach out. When you exhale to sing, bring your stomach slowly in so that you can sing longer and control your tone.
- Practice controlling your breath by breathing in for a set interval such as four seconds, holding for four seconds, then breathing out for four seconds. Increase the intervals as you practice.
- Taking in and using too much air at once won’t help you sing higher notes. Take in a single deep breath at a time and give your vocal cords a constant airflow to avoid strain.
Adopt proper posture.Good posture also serves to enhance the airflow necessary to stretch your range. Plant your feet on the ground, shoulder-width apart. Allow your shoulders to relax as you straighten your back. Keep your head and neck up while singing. When you reach the notes on the outside of your range, remember to avoid tilting your head or stretching your neck.
Relax your muscles.Many beginning singers are tempted to tighten their body and strain their vocal cords to extend their range, but this is dangerous. Instead, stand firm against the floor without feeling tense. Don’t raise your muscles towards your throat when you sing. Allow your tongue and throat to stay as loose as possible. This will reduce your strain and increase your airflow, helping you reach notes on the edges of your range.
- One way to practice staying loose when not singing is to stick your tongue out ten times, two to three times per day.
QuestionIs it beneficial for me to drink water before practicing singing?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt is advisable to sip on lukewarm water rather than drinking copious amounts. Your stomach gets pulled in while singing and drinking a lot of water will limit the muscle movement.Thanks!
QuestionI sing alto and I have a very low voice and can't sing high to save my life. How can I train my voice to go higher?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYour vocal cords may not be formulated to go that high. You can try following the exercises, working slowly upwards and mastering one note at a time. Stop though when your voice shows signs of tension.Thanks!
QuestionI can currently reach a C5 but want to reach a D5 comfortably and in a way that I can belt it out. Is this feasible?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerSince you can reach the note below it, a D5 shouldn't be that hard to get to with scale practice and patience.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I increase my chances of winning a singing competition?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerPractice, practice, practice. And watch other singers on Youtube. It's not just about how well you sing, but how you sing -- stage presence is important as well. You have to OWN the song and make it yours. Every song is different, so be sure to pick a song that shows off your voice and your heart and soul. Sing from your heart. Be real and invite the audience into your performance.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I warm up? When I have to sing, my voice begins to crack. How can I manage this?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerSing do re mi fa so la ti to. Go high then go low. Do it again and again til you feel comfortable with the notes.Thanks!
QuestionIf I'm an alto, can I sing mezzo or soprano?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThis would not be a good idea. If you try to sing too far out of your range, you can ruin your voice. Instead, sing a few scales. The highest note that you can sing comfortably, clearly, and without straining is the end of your range.Thanks!
QuestionI'm an alto but I want to be a soprano. Is there a way to do that?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerWith practice, yes. Go into a low metzo range before trying to hit soprano. Never try to strain your voice trying to get to a soprano range.Thanks!
QuestionHow can I learn to develop vibrato naturally without having to "fake" it? About how long after I start singing does the vibrato start to develop?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerVibrato comes from alternating your voice between two close pitches. You'll benefit from developing basic skills first, such as proper breathing and projection. It can take a long time to develop it properly, but the only way to do it the right way is through practice. Practice switching between notes that are easy for you. Put your hands right below your chest and push in as you sing to get an idea of what it's like.Thanks!
QuestionIs it okay to have your tonsils removed as a way of increasing your vocal range?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYes, having your tonsils removed opens a larger airway for the sound to come out and therefore adds more flow and power to your voice.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I avoid singing vibrato?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIf it has to do with your head movement, try to sing in front of the mirror and fix the unnatural bobbing. Otherwise, I'd recommend getting an audience. Sometimes an unwritten and involuntary vibrato can help the song if you are trying to make it your own. If it does not help the song, try to open up your vowels, make sure you're able to feel the air, and keep your tongue down.Thanks!
My vocal range is C2 F5 . What music genre would suit me?
Can I become a tenor if I am a baritone?
I am F3-F5. Can I hit A5 in a song with practice?
I currently have a vocal range of E2 to F4 (very upper and lower limits). Is it a reasonable goal to try and expand my range to Ab4 and have a somewhat full bodied sound?
I am able to sing comfortably within my range but am unable to reach the higher notes?
- Drink lots of water to keep your vocal cords hydrated and elastic.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol. Heavy drug use lessens your range over time.
- Sip hot beverages such as tea to loosen your vocal cords and clear your sinuses.
- When hitting a higher note, lean your head upward slightly. This will raise your soft palate and help you hit a higher register.
- Gargling with warm water with a bit of salt before singing may help loosen your vocal cords.
- Don’t rush yourself. Things like this take time.
- Never strain your vocal cords. When you feel tense or your voice begins to crack, stop.
- Expanding your range is a slow process that requires practice. Don’t rush. Vocal damage is a serious problem.
Sources and Citations
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Video: Vocal Range Exercises - Increase Vocal Range and Sing Higher - Felicia Ricci
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