Find Out How to Improve Vocal Range

Most posts on how to improve vocal range focus on adding high notes, leaving altos and basses feeling left out. Lower voices, this one’s for you! We’ll explore some ways to add low notes through the use of your chest voice.

Everyone makes use of the chest voice for normal speaking. In fact, your speaking voice can teach you plenty about your singing voice. The way in which you utilize your speaking voice can either help or hamper your singing voice.

The first step to improve vocal range is to start by exploring your speaking voice. Try making various non-speech sounds: laugh, cry, yawn, sigh. In case you have a piano or pitch pipe available, find the nearest pitch to the sounds you made. Now speak a few monosyllables: uh-huh, mm-hmm, aha. Again, find the matching pitch over a piano or pitch pipe.

Now articulate a few simple sentences, for example “my name is_____” or “I love to sing”. Once again, discover the matching pitch. Ideally, the pitch should be the same for speaking as it is for monosyllables or non-speech sounds, but lots of people try to speak with a lower pitch than is natural for their voice. This isn’t a beneficial thing to do.

Continue exploring your voice by speaking monosyllables at various pitch levels on the piano. Find the lowest pitch you can speak without sounding gravelly. The gravelly sound is called “vocal fry” and isn’t healthy to sustain. Your ideal speaking pitch must be about four to 5 steps over your vocal fry level.

Next, speak sentences or read a paragraph aloud. Experiment with higher speaking pitches to find out how high you are able to go. Along the way, note where your voice is most comfortable and where you begin to hear and feel strain. The exercises to Improve Vocal Range should not make you feel any strain in your body.

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When using your “chest voice”, you’ll feel vibration (resonance) in your chest when producing tones in that pitch range. Place your hand lightly at your upper chest, with your thumb and fingers resting on your collarbones. Do a yawn-slide (exhale at the syllable “hee” or “hoo” while sliding from the top of your range to the bottom). Your hand should feel vibration while you slide down into your chest voice.

Even though it feels like the resonance is happening in your chest, it’s actually happening in your throat and mouth. The vibration you feel is the results of air moving from your lungs and across your vocal folds.

A simple low-range singing exercise is the fifth slide. Starting in the comfortable central part of your range, use the buzz (puckered lips vibrating as air is expelled) or even a syllable just like “vaw” to sing the starting pitch and slide down five steps. In the key of C major it would be G-C, so-do. The slide should be smooth, not bumpy or creaky. Start each repetition a half-step below the previous one.

If you feel bumpy or creaky sensations while you descend the scale, you’re probably holding some tension. Stop and do some face and neck relaxation exercises. Gently massage your face and throat, then try again. While you descend the scale, close your mouth slightly from its starting position.

Next, sing an octave scale up and back down, again using the buzz or “vaw”. As you go up the scale, allow your jaw to drop and your mouth to open a little wider, then reverse that as you come back down. It could be helpful to imagine your tone on a path leading away from yourself, with low notes nearest and high notes farthest away. Perhaps even move one hand from your body while you ascend the scale and back to your side while you descend.

The arpeggio is another helpful exercise. Sing do-mi-so-do-so-mi-do on a vowel sound, for instance “oo”, “ee”, or “ah”. Initiate each new arpeggio a half-step lower than the last.

As with any singing technique, adding to your lower range will take time and effort. If you are patient and persistent, you will notice positive results and improved vocal range.

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