Whether you've been singing for years or days, you can always work on developing your vocal range. And unless you are able to sing with Mariah Carey’s vocal range, there is always room to grow and expand your range. Singing those hard notes with ease is the difference between an amateur and a professional singer.
In this blog, we are going to discuss five ways you can expand your vocal range without damaging your vocal cords.
1. Understand Your Abilities
Have you ever checked your vocal range?
If you haven’t, let’s see if we can figure it out together. Hop over to your keyboard or download a free mini piano app on your phone. Start with the middle C also known as the C4 as it’s the 4th C on the keyboard. So, let’s go down in pitch from here to see your low range. Make sure to right down the pitch name when you reach your limit. Once you have found the lowest note on your vocal range, let’s figure out the highest. Let’s go up in pitch from here to see your high range. Make sure to right down the pitch name when you reach your limit.
It's important to know that your vocal range isn't the highest and lowest notes you're able to belt out. Your vocal range actually exists somewhere between the lowest notes and highest notes you can sing comfortably and consistently.
Some people ask, Is it possible to increase your vocal range by one octave? Yes, but it is quite a big task. Your vocal cords are only capable of so much. However, a lot of that depends on how developed and trained your vocals currently are. If you've never taken the time to practice singing, you will likely notice a significantly broader range of pitches that you can hit once you begin training. If you have been singing for a long time but have just recently decided you'd like to expand your range, it will probably not grow quite as much as a novice.
2. Use Proper Technique
It's very dangerous to extend your vocal range without employing proper singing techniques.
Using the wrong technique, or no technique at all, can result in injury to your vocal cords.
Here are some of the basics to be mindful of:
Good posture is very important. Stand up straight and make good use of your breath support. Don’t compromise your posture as this tends to put stress on different parts of your body ultimately impacting your breathing and therefore your singing.
Breath from your diaphragm instead of your neck and shoulders - When new vocalists sing outside of their normal vocal range, they tend to force more air through the throat, which will jam up their vocal cords, or restrict air flow, which will lead to a breathy sound.
Maintaining the proper technique will help you avoid those situations.
3. Practice Regularly
The best things in life take time, right? Simply put, expanding your vocal range won't happen overnight. The hardest part for most vocalists isn't the vocal range exercises, it's having the patience to wait. With consistent exercise, you're doing much more than just trying to add a few notes to your range. You might not be able to hit that stubborn high note, but you'll notice your voice becoming stronger and lasting longer than when you first started doing the exercises.
You'll also notice on your good days that notes come out much clearer and with much more confidence.
I also want to request you not to overdo the exercises. Be patient while trying to expand your range and don’t overdo it. Don't try too hard during a warm-up, practice, or a performance. If your voice gets tired, try more low impact warm-ups like lips rolls or humming to avoid any irritation. If it feels bad, don’t do it. Pushing through strain or not giving yourself enough rest when you need it can damage your vocal cords and set you back further than if you would've just taken a break. Never try to sing through pain, and don't feel guilty about needing to skip a day or two to protect your voice. A rest is as important as a practice day - you should definitely give your voice rest for one day a week. Be patient, protect yourself, and take care of your vocal cords.
4. Take care of your Vocal Health
Singers have gotten a bad reputation for not taking care of their vocal cords. Many of us are guilty of this. It's easy to talk too loud at a party, over-sing at a show, or cram in too many practices before the next big performance comes up. It's not always possible to keep your vocal cords in perfect health, but there are a few things to do to make sure you prioritise your vocal health. Try to get a good night's sleep. 7-9 hours a night is ideal. Try to drink at least plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated. Protect yourself from viruses by washing your hands and using sanitiser as needed.
There are also certain foods and drinks you should avoid before you sing. Any food or drink that dries your throat, like coffee and alcohol, should be avoided. That being said, also avoid foods and drinks that can create mucus to your throat, like most dairy products and sugar. One important tip: Most singers opt for water leading up to, and the day of, a show. While this is strongly recommended, there is a catch. Try to stay away from ice cold water. It restricts your throat and can cause tension. Want to know a simple tip? If you don't have access to a ton of water but need to hydrate, steaming has been proven to be very effective. You don't have to avoid these things all of the time, but avoid them before you sing, because singing through dryness, mucus, or constriction will cause significant strain on your vocal cords.
5. Vocal Exercises
Here are some simple exercises that can help work on your vocal range. Start from middle C or C4 and sing every note (including the black ones) in sequence until you cannot sing anymore. Do this for both the higher pitch and lower pitch notes. Ideally, do this exercise 3-5 times depending on how much time you have and how you feel (remember, never sing through pain - it will only get worse!). Do this regularly to see a real improvement in your vocal range. Here's a video link to the vocal exercises - https://youtu.be/cKkrHf6GAr8
Finally, one very important point – while developing and working on your vocal range is really good - vocal range isn’t the most important criteria when it comes to vocal performance. Of course, it helps. However, some famous singers don’t have very big vocal ranges and yet produce incredible music – take for instance Adele. Her vocal range is just 2 octaves but what she does with it is what makes her noteworthy.
If you want access to detailed guided practice routines, do check out our lessons on musicpandit.com for access to step-by-step lessons that cover a whole lot of topics like vocal projection, improvisation, vocal vibrato and so much more.
We hope you enjoyed this topic and it was useful to you. If you want to know more about such topics, please comment below and we will definitely address it. Please make sure you follow our blogspot to get access to more such content.