Do you know how to find your vocal range? Your highest and lowest note within each different tonal quality or coordination (aka registers in traditional vocal terminology).
Did you know that you have a ‘sweet spot’ vocally? Where every note in that area sounds awesome!
Defining these elements are the first step in extending your vocal range.
Find your vocal range
My speech quality range is B2 (lowest note through all vowels) – E5 (highest note – some vowels are better/easier than others!) and Falsetto is F5-C6 (through all vowels).
Find your sweet spot within your vocal range
Sing through each note using all the vowel Ah, Eh, Ee, Oh, Oo. Which 8-10 notes sound the best?
My sweet spot is A4 – D5 – so really only 11 notes out of my 3-ish octave range!
I will want to choose or write in song keys that highlight that zone or change the key of the song to make sure that my vocal strengths are featured.
Traditionally, you may find yourself classified into groups that are aligned best with choral singing or historically for the use of a composer writing for a particular voice type.
Here are some you many have heard of and the note range they cover:
Bass – E2-E4
Baritone – G2-G4
Tenor – C3-C5
Alto – G3-G5
Mezze Soprano – G3-A5
Soprano – A3-F6
Popular music vocal co-ordinations
When working in contemporary music you will rarely need to know which traditional classification you belong to, more what your highest and lowest note in each of your vocal co-ordinations are.
For example, you have a range of notes in your speech quality (aka “chest” voice/register) and lightest co-ordination (aka “head” voice/register/cry quality) that will most often be utilised in popular music.
The belt range is defined as G3-E5.
The speech quality usually conveys a conversational tone, power and energy.
The cry quality or head voice lightest co-ordination can offer a lot of emotion.
There are other tonal qualities you can add as well, like Belting, Twang, Opera, Sob/Cry, Falsetto (Estill Voice Training references – see more here)
There are many vocal embellishments such as vibrato and vocal ornaments (fall/drop offs, portimenti) that can be used within each of these co-ordinations to enhance further.
You still want more range to play with? Try this:
Siren – Sirens are awesome for improving the blend or transitions through your breaks or the gear changes that occur when you move from one co-ordination to the next. This can help to bring out the bottom and top notes at the edges of your range more clearly. Learn how to Siren.
Correct singing technique – make sure your posture is aligned, you are using breath management for singing and you are placing or resonating the sound, singing the vowels and modifying them if needed.
Use your entire range – especially your upper register even if it doesn’t sound strong to you. With practice, that co-ordination will strengthen and you will develop more tone and range.
Practice descending scales as that can smooth the transitions between registers and help you access lower notes.
Rehearse a semitone/half step higher than you plan to sing in public! This will help you to discover the overtones/harmonics that make the higher notes sound good. When you sing in the lower key you will have developed colour and confidence in your delivery of the previously tricky notes! Never strain for the notes outside of your range but use that lightest co-ordination if the notes are higher than your comfortable speech quality range.
Bonus vocal range tips:
Knowing how high or low you can sing will help with setting the correct key for your voice so that you can lean on that “sweet spot” where sonically and emotionally you have many colours and depths of tone that you can express the lyrics of the song with.
At the end of the day, singing is expression so it doesn’t have to be perfect. It does have to be safe and communicate what you are trying to say or the story you are trying to tell. Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t sing the high whistle tone notes only dogs can hear!
There is nothing wrong with developing your voice and learning more techniques both for style and singing overall but do also focus on connecting with the lyrics and telling the story with the unique voice that YOU have.
Need more help? There are other tricks and tips that you can learn to extend the notes you can sing but it is best to work with a vocal coach to help you safe discover the best exercises and techniques to do this.
Got questions? Comment below!