How To Improve Your Vocal Range
Many singers especially those fairly new to it would like to increase their vocal range. With many articles focusing on working at increasing the high register we are going to look at how to add some extra bass notes by using your chest voice. So, if you would like to know how to improve your vocal range – read on.
As we all use our chest voice for normal speaking we can use this to teach us about how it is used when singing. How we use our speaking voices will, in turn, either aid or hold back our singing voices.
Let's get started
We can do a few simple exercises to help us explore our speaking voice. First make some basic sounds such as yawning, laughing, sighing etc. With a piano or other instrument work out the pitch each of these sounds has made. Now let's move on to mono-syllables such as; aaaah, mmmm, ah-ha. Once again find the pitch of each of these.
Moving on we now work on some basic sentences like, "I can sing well" or "This is my voice". As previously work out the pitch you are producing. What you should find is that the pitch is the same when you are speaking as it is when you are making those other non-speech sounds. Unfortunately many people tend to speak in a lower voice than is actually natural for their voice which is not really correct or healthy in the long run.
Let's go back to mono syllable sounds and matching various pitches on the piano. Work at going down to the lowest note you can without making that gravelly sound. This sound is known as "vocal fry" and is not good for your voice to hold for any length of time. From this we can work out your ideal speaking pitch which should sit comfortably at around 4 to 5 steps above this vocal fry.
Now you should start to speak sentences or read a paragraph out loud. Start speaking higher and see how high you can reach noting where you feel comfortable and where you start to feel the strain.
Your chest voice
You can feel a vibration in your chest when using your chest voice. Simply place your hand high on your chest with your index finger and thumb resting on your collar bones. Exhale while saying the syllable "hoo" or "hee" and slide from the top of your range down to the bottom. This is known as a yawn slide. As you begin using your chest voice you will start to feel the vibrations.
Actually, while this feels like it is happening in the chest it is actually occurring in the throat and mouth. What you are feeling is the air moving out of your lungs and going across your vocal folds.
A low range exercise
What we are going to try now is the fifth slide. Start somewhere in the middle of your comfortable range a syllable such as "VAW" or the "buzz" (use puckered lips causing vibrations as the air passes through them) and slide down five steps. For example in the key of C Major you would move down to C. Make sure you slide down smoothly. Then repeat the exercise but one half-step below the previous one.
If it is now a smooth sound as you slide down then it is likely that your vocals are not relaxed and there is some tension in there. Simply take a moment to do some relaxation exercises for the face and neck. Gentle massage your throat and face then have another go at the exercise. As you go down the scale the mouth should close slightly from its original position.
Using the buzz or "VAW" we are now going to sing an octave scale up and then down. Moving up the scale you should allow your jaw to drop (therefore your mouth opening wider) – simply reverse this on the way down the scale. Some people like to use their hand moving away from their body indicating the higher notes and pulling it back for the lower ones. Others imagine a path in front of them with the low notes close by and the higher ones further away. This visualization can prove useful so it is worth a try.
Singing arpeggios is another useful technique. Simply sing do-mi-so-do-so-mi-do using a vowel sound such as "ee", "ah" or "oo". Begin each time a half step lower so you are gradually getting lower and lower.
Steady and slow is the key here, but with a little time and effort you will take your lower range down further. Stick with it and you will enjoy the results!
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