Approach Range Wisely
Nowadays, “singing” seems to have become a synonym of “high powerful notes”. But the reality is, that high notes are only a part of what good singing really is. After all, if that were the case, everyone who can just wail high notes could make it in the big leagues. However, good singing is all about balance, and if we want to get more technical, it’s all about the control you have of your range.
What is Vocal Range?
This can be described in many different ways, but to keep it simple, it is the extension of musical notes that you can sing without strain. This means both the lower and higher notes of your vocal range. Unfortunately, whether it is on TV, press or social media, range has been mostly affiliated with the higher notes of a singer.
“Look at that amazing range!”
“She is now making use of her incredible range!”
“He has a vocal range like no other!”
Those are usual comments you may hear from other singers, judges, hosts, etc, whenever a singer starts to show off a bunch of high powerful notes. Now, this is not bad, this is actually great. You have to give credit to these singers for being able to do what they are doing! But again, it has all become part of how a singer must have a set of high notes to be able to turn heads, otherwise nothing may happen.
So... What is the Problem?
Humans are competitive by nature and when it comes to excel at something, singers need to prove themselves to a level that has never been seen or heard before. Sadly, this ends up with children singing songs trying to produce a vocal tone at volumes that are too much for their young voices, teenagers forcing or belting notes to be able to be accepted at different colleges or schools, and singers focusing solely on high notes even if they go way past their comfort zone.
Range, like many things in our human body, has a limit. It does vary from person to person. Women usually have a range with a higher pitches than men, even though some male singers will be able to excel at very high notes, just like some female singers may be able to sing some serious low notes. But as you’ve read this, your brain probably got more excited about the possibility of singing high notes than low notes.
However, did you know that the majority of people actually have the lower part of their range less developed than the higher end? Most people take their low range for granted since we speak on low notes most of the time. Bad speech habits are becoming more and more frequent, which only gets worse if we add that more people take less care of their voice by smoking, vaping, dehydration and such.
People are getting used to speaking with a hoarse or scratchy tone as if it’s the new normal, when those are signs that something is going on with their voice. And, if their speaking voice is having issues, it will most likely reflect in their singing voice.
Discover Your Range and Respect It!
Good vocal technique will lead you to discover your voice and thus, your range. Did you know that most babies when they cry hit a C5 most of the time? That’s crazy! It’s partly due to the fact that a baby’s folds are much more flexible and mostly made out of water in their entirety. As we grow, the larynx descends and the folds also develop. However, new mental barriers form and we lose a lot of the flexibility that we still have! If you are an avid follower of this site, you’ll know that Flexibility is the first Dimension, and for a reason! Range instead, is the Dimension right in the middle, which means it requires some preparation to get there and it will be probably the Dimension where you’ll spend most of your singing life, as your voice will continue maturing and changing throughout your life and thus, there will always be more discoveries to be made and work to be done.
The average singer has two octaves of vocal range. Which is more than enough to sing the most popular songs. Yet, most singers only work on the upper part of their range, neglecting the lower and sometimes even middle parts of their range.
Range must be worked little by little, the lows and the highs and even the middle parts. Because different vowels require you to be able to coordinate things in many different ways inside the vocal tract, the same vowel may be a challenge at different areas of your range. This is where a lot of singers prefer to skip the training and only focus on what they want or like to sing. Doing that is like only working on the upper body at the gym and always neglecting legs. It may look good in some photos, but for the overall picture you are completely out of balance.
Work on your range and you will still have high powerful notes, but also great resonant middle notes and clear and concise low notes, which are a must for all pros.
Be patient, be passionate. This is not a one day trip, but it will be worth it.