Singers often ask me about vocal techniques to help them sing higher, sing lower, or expand their vocal range and control over their voices. The good news is that you aren’t just stuck with the range you’ve got and that your vocal range can be expanded.
Vocal range is best improved with practice. Each singer has a potential range that is given to them, but they may not have full access to that vocal range because of a variety of factors. Such as but not limited to:
- Incorrect vocal production affects vocal range: poor singing or speaking habits will inhibit vocal range.
- Tense muscles affect vocal range: tension in the neck, jaw, larynx, shoulders and overall muscles inhibit the vocal range.
- Dehydration affects vocal range, particularly higher notes.
- Lack of sleep affects vocal range, particularly higher notes.
Learning correct vocal techniques will help you to improve your vocal range. As singers train their voices, their range naturally expands. It’s a natural result of a good vocal technique training.
How much can you grow your range? Depends on how underdeveloped your voice is at the moment and how hard you train.
Think of the process of training with vocal technique to become a better singer as similar to training to become a better athlete. Singers are athletes of the small muscles of the voice and breathing. Singing is a physical and physiological event. Athletes train to improve their skills and endurance. It is the same with singers. Given that your voice is an instrument inside your body, you can improve your vocal skills and ability through the right training. As singers train, their voice gets stronger and their range naturally increases. So until you have officially and professionally trained, you are leaving notes on the table!
Here are My Top 3 Ways to Instantly Expand Your Vocal Range:
1. Drink 8-10 glasses of water a day.
Seriously, hydration is the number one thing that helps you hit high notes and reach more notes in your range. Dehydration is the number one cause of a lack of range. Even professional singers won’t hit their notes as smoothly without being hydrated.
2. Tip your chin down slightly when you want to hit a higher note – or keep it level when you want to hit a lower note.
Tipping your chin slightly down will lengthen the back of your neck and potentially create space to lift your soft palate improving high notes. Reaching the chin up for higher notes will limit your range. Making that slight adjustment will make it easier to hit stronger high notes.
3. Keep your chest elevated when you sing.
Posture plays a super important role in singing well. Most people’s chests are slightly dropped causing a lack of support from their pectorals (which anchor the laryngeal muscles and help reach your full range). A dropped chest (even slight) also affects the position of the diaphragm. In this case, compromising the air in the lungs which can affect range.
These 3 tips will help you reach more notes if you can execute them correctly. Refer to my Singers Gift Warmups for vocal techniques to expand your range!
1.Techniques that are “true” vs. techniques that manipulate the sound. There are a lot of techniques out there, some good, some not so good – and some even damaging.
Mostly it’s based on whether there is science behind the technique or if the technique is just designed to make you sound better regardless of how. For instance, if your teacher is asking you to pull up the sides of your lips or put the sound in your nose, these are what I call “secondary vocal techniques” that are designed to manipulate the sound for an instant result but can cause vocal problems later down the road (sooner than later actually). They also don’t build a real instrument that can withstand the demands of professional singing and land the singer with problems at a crucial time in their careers!
2. A great vocal technique factors in the health of your voice within its system of training.
I was super lucky to find a vocal technique that also incorporates vocal health into its training. So while you are practicing our exercises to strengthen and build your voice, you are doing it in a way that improves and maintains your vocal health. This is not true of all techniques.
One of my students came to me with vocal nodules that she literally got from training with a teacher that kept pushing her to sing louder, damaging her vocal cords. Can you imagine?
A quick tip for how to spot a technique that is not healthful? Your voice doesn’t improve with training or seems to get raspy or hurt a little afterward. This is of course within the parameters of good singing and not singing your exercises loudly or training for long periods of time outside of what your teacher is instructing you to do.
* Note: Most vocal coaches are just good singers and have not been trained properly to teach different kinds of voices (have not had an official training program).
3. You are getting results in the short term and the long term.
Your voice should be feeling better and stronger with each lesson. While progress is not leaps and bounds, you should feel a steady improvement in the short term. And while there may be plateau’s to progress (similarly athletes experience the same thing), you also want to look for a technique that has the depth to train over the long haul of your career. That means a technique that is not just warmups but also incorporates voice building and a system of exercises to develop a fully rounded professional voice, vocal therapy for days you are not feeling well, cooldowns and maintenance exercises to keep your voice healthy among others.
4. If your vocal coach gives you the same exercise without a full spectrum of techniques at every lesson, look elsewhere.
A well-structured technique has a library of exercises, not just one set. I once had a famous rock star come work with me to fix issues caused by another coach (a fairly common occurrence for me). He had been singing with a coach who gave him the same exercise at every lesson. The singer got a bit of a complex wondering if it was because he wasn’t advancing. He wasn’t advancing alright, because there was no actual training being delivered!
As you move through your training, while you might stay on some exercises for a bit, there are different exercises to execute certain specific aspects of the voice that need development. Many trainings don’t have much of a system to them. I was fortunate enough to train with a system that has over 200+ exercises that you move through over years of training, while building the foundation on one main set and then adding on as you grow.
5. Opera-based vocal technique.
In general, you want to look for a technique that has an operatic base. You don’t have to study opera, but if you really want to develop a professional voice, you’ll want to learn a technique based in operatic training. Our technique is based in Bel Canto from the Italian school of operatic training. My mentor was an opera singer as was her mentor. I was the first in the line of teachers that wasn’t an opera singer. I kept the technique intact but didn’t overcompress the voice with an operatic sound. It works really well for contemporary non-operatic singers, because you get the benefits of the technique without the actual sound of opera. Why operatic? Because a real true operatic technique builds the overtone series and the true healthy production of the voice.
6. Knowing the difference between a “vocal coach” and a “vocal teacher”.
Although American Idol and The Voice made “vocal coach” a household term, there are several different functions of what that term can mean. A “vocal coach” is typically someone who coaches a singer on their song, helping them with the interpretation and performance. A “vocal teacher” is someone who is an expert in teaching vocal technique. Sometimes you get both. But without a “vocal teacher” and vocal technique your voice will never reach its true potential! We do both at our studio, but we always focus on building a strong vocal technique so you can reach your full potential.
7. You really do get what you pay for.
I’m just going to say this straight out. I often see singers wrestle with their budget here. I get it. When I was starting out looking for training, I did too. However, once I made the rounds and tried a few lessons here and there, I decided that I’d rather pay more for a professional teacher who worked with well-known names, than mess around with less expensive lessons with a less experienced teacher that most likely be less effective – and – might actually do damage to my voice. That was a risk I was unwilling to take. Professional teachers have spent their whole lives perfecting their training. Why be a guinea pig with someone who doesn’t have the experience and potentially waste a lot of time and money? Finding an experienced teacher with a proven system will save you time and money in the long run.
I’m coming out soon with a new program that has my entire library at an affordable rate. Can’t wait to share it with you soon. Until then, you can come work with us privately and learn our vocal technique that improves vocal health for singers that way. We have several teachers at different price points too! All trained in our amazing proven vocal technique.