By Cari Cole
You know it’s funny how everyone thinks more is better. When it comes to singing, range matters, but maybe not as much as you think, or not in the way that you think.
Truth is, there are many well known singers out there that get along just fine without a ton of range, and then there are the divas, who of course, have more than most. I guess it depends on the type of voice you like or aim for as to whether it matters to you. But truth is, you don’t need a 5 octave range to be considered one of the world’s greatest voices.
Take Adele for example. One of our most famous and beloved singers today, Adele has a more “limited” range as a singer compared to a Christina or Mariah, but look at what she does with what she has ;-0.
More important than range is how a singer uses the range that they have.
You only need a 2 and a half, to 3 octave range to impress your audience (or judges.)
When a singer competes, no one pulls out a pitch pipe to measure who sang a “higher note.” A singer is judged on how well and convincingly they sang. It’s not really about “range.” It’s more about well how you use what you have. Besides, your high note could be a “C”, where someone elses is an “A” and they pack the same punch because of where that note sits in your range. So an “A” to some singers will feel like a “C” from other singers. Make sense?
You see everyone has a predetermined natural born range. It has to do with the size of your vocal cords. Generally speaking: longer cords have lower ranges, shorter cords have higher voices. You can grow that range with training, but your range potential is pretty much a given.
At the end of the day, it’s your vocal prowess and style that really makes the biggest impact (and what you’re singing about makes a huge difference. Great voices without great songs don’t breakthrough.) It’s most important that you know your voice well, learn to use what you have, and yes, work your range, but don’t let that be the sole aim. No one else does, not really.
Why singing within your range is smarter…
First of all any one of you who has been on the road knows that touring kills your voice. It’s a ton of wear-and-tear that even the best singers struggle to stay in good voice. Smart singers don’t try to push their limits all over the map on a new record, but more work with what they have that won’t kill their voices next tour. Plus some audiences are not after vocal acrobatics or high notes, and it won’t matter. They’re after content and texture… believability.
Plus, you can hurt your voice trying to sing at the top of your range all the time or pushing your voice beyond your limits. Especially when you don’t know what you are doing (training helps and increases range healthfully.)
The keys to a great voice (in my humble opinion from 30+ years of coaching singers and being one myself), are these 3 things:
You don’t have to have the best voice in the room but you do have to be believable.
The voice with powerhouse emotions wins over high notes every time. Got both and you have a slam dunk.
Tip: Don’t ever release a song without a vocal that is 1000% believable. And it can’t just be your opinion. It’s the opinion of everyone around you (including your coach and your professional circle which does not include friends or family ;))
You have the courage to be yourself. You sing in your voice, in the range where you sound the best. You are an original, not a copycat.
Sing with your voice, not someone else’s.
3. Being a Vocal Badass
You train hard to make sure you sound your very best. Lady Gaga took lessons every day for 6 months to prepare for her Oscar performance in 2015 (and still is.)
Take your voice seriously, and so will everyone else.
I hope that helps you reach for your best and at the same time, work with what you’ve got. I hope this helps you nail your vocals and blow everyone away!!