New singers often ask me, “Can I increase my vocal range?” Asking this question is like a new runner asking, Can I run 5 miles one day? How about 10? A marathon? The resounding answer is, yes. Yes, chances are you can if you practice and work at it.
Each person has a specific, individual voice. One person may already have power in the lower, chest register (from G below Middle C, and up to about E), while someone else may find her voice opening up in a high, soprano register. Even untrained, there is a place where you voice wants to go, or where it feels comfortable. However, to sing most repertoire, a singer — high or low, male or female, big or light — should ideally have about two octaves at his or her disposal. And if you can stretch beyond two octaves, even better.
I currently have a range of a little over three octaves, from low F below Middle C to high a above High c, although I don’t often sing a high f or above, unless I play around on Mozart’s Queen of the Night from The Magic Flute. Most of my lyric coloratura repertoire goes to a high e flat or e natural, and I have to practice often just to sustain that note. I didn’t always have these notes, however, on the high end or the low end. I developed them by practicing regularly.
Simply singing scales up and down the keyboard is a great way to start to stretch your range. I suggest vocalizing 5 note scales on an [a] vowel, as in “father,” although an [i] vowel as in “meet” is a good one, too. As you go up the scale, allow yourself more space in the back of the throat area – the resonance chamber that you feel when you yawn. Remember: never reach up for a high note, and never try to control it with your vocal cords. High notes are achieved with space and length of the breath column and resonance chambers, and not by making them happen.
Another exercise that has served me very well in getting to those uber high notes is a “wailing” exercise. It is exactly what it sounds like: as you enter your uncomfortable zone, try to wail a note one time. This is not singing; it’s closer to sighing or yawning into the pitch, and if it sounds funny, like an exotic bird call, then you are doing it right! You may find that releasing the idea of “singing” a note and just attempting to make the sound (in a healthy way!) will allow your resonance to open up.
Just remember: if you are singing up the scale in this manner, and you begin to feel strained, STOP. Do not injure yourself. Consult with a vocal professional before pounding away at your voice!
Get your free ebook "An Introduction to Music Lessons" by Piotr Zielinski
Submit your email to get your free copy. I share insights about listening, studying, practicing and performing.
Thank you for subscribing. You will receive an email with the download link.
Something went wrong.