How to Increase Your Vocal Range
Learning how to increase your vocal range does take time and practice, but with these top 10 professional singing tips to increase your vocal range, you will learn how to sing higher than ever before improve your vocal range like you never thought possible. We’ve all heard the terms sing from the diaphragm, and sing forward, and breathe low – but what about the more advanced techniques like resonance tuning, vowel shaping and developing middle voice? I’m here to show you that it’s super EASY to improve vocal range with these 10 simple tips.
#1 – Foundation is King
This is where terms like Breathe from the diaphragm, or sing from your diaphragm come from – as I often say, a singing voice is only as healthy and powerful as the foundation that it has been built up. Build a strong foundation and you’ll end up with a strong voice. Your foundation involves your posture, breathing and resonance placement, so take care to set up correct posture first by raising your head, keeping your shoulders back, your chin parallel with the floor and most importantly, keep your ribs wide.
Keeping your ribs wide in this manner is often called Appoggio singing technique, and will allow you to control your air pressure via extension of the diaphragm instead of your ribs contracting, which often happens in speech. This incredibly powerful foundation setup will allow you to increase vocal range with ease. To expand vocal range, you first need a powerful foundation laid as your groundwork. Make sure you check out my free foundations short courses for the most efficient and powerful foundation and warmup tools you can find.
#2 – The middle register is larger than you think
Some ill advised vocal approaches out there treat the middle register as a ‘stepping stone’ between your chest voice and head voice, but in reality the Middle Register is MUCH wider and expansive than this would lead you to believe. Learning how to sing in Mix voice takes time and practice, and involves a coordination between each of the muscles responsible for chest voice and head voice respectively. If you learn how to balance in this central coordination, you will soon learn that the middle register is larger and more powerful than you think – it’s not a stepping stone, it is your WHOLE vocal range. If you want to widen your vocal range, you first need to develop your middle register coordination. To widen your vocal range, you first need independent control of your two main registers so that you can coordinate them in a balanced way to create your MIX voice.
It’s important that your vocal approach is tailor made and designed for your individual and unique voice, because as you know – no two voices are the same. So be very wary of voice coaches who hold strong opinions about techniques such as the mix coordination, it’s not a stepping stone, it’s your FULL vocal range.
#3 – Placement will allow you to expand vocal range
It’s absolutely true, vocal placement is the cornerstone of a healthy singing voice. This is another singing technique that is often misused and misunderstood in a number of contemporary singing approaches, and is often mistaked for classical MASK technique, which it is not. Vocal placement involves the limiting of any excess frequencies that might not be resonating in an efficient manner, in essence allowing you to put all of your energy towards ‘positive’ frequencies which buzz and ping in the right manner. Without vocal placement, your voice will not grow, and you won’t be able to widen your vocal range.
Foundation is king, but placement is KEY to increasing vocal range.
#4 – Speech vowels have nothing to do with singing
I get it, there’s a popular contemporary singing technique out there called Speech Level Singing that will tell you the exact opposite, and I’m here to tell you why they’re wrong. Your mouth isn’t a resonator for your voice, it’s actually an articulator – so you need to create resonance via proper vocal placement, and articulate your vowel by taking a specific tongue shape and forming a particular vocal tract width – is that the same way that you speak? Of course not. Learning how to shape your singing vowels in the right way is one of the main keys to increasing vocal range and singing high notes with ease. A great way for you to learn this concept is to sing the same pitch between an AH vowel, the widest vowel sound, and an EE vowel, the most narrow of the vowel sounds. Can you feel how your tongue is low and concave on the AH sound, and your tongue is ‘up’ at the back on the EE vowel? Congratulations, you just shaped your vowels. Learning how to control this mechanism while developing control over the width of your vocal tract is the difference between singing scales, and singing actual SONGS.
#5 – Resonance tuning
The most simple form of resonance tuning is called vowel modification and requires you to alter the character of each of your vowel sounds as you ascend through different resonant spaces along the vocal tract, some wider, some more narrow. Now, this IS a great way to learn how to tune your resonance for a beginner, but is ultimately too general to train the fine tuned resonance required for a truly professional singing voice, so make sure you understand HOW and WHY vowel modifcation works for you so that you can break down the individual elements involved in this process – namely the tongue root, the pharynx, the shape of your tongue and the height of your soft palate, so that you can control them in an individual and subtle way to create the most efficiently tuned resonance as you ascend in range.
Learning to tune my vowels correctly has been a major key to building my baritone vocal range, and ultimately towards becoming a professional voice coach. Few coaches or courses out there seem to coach proper vowel tuning, so make sure that your vocal coach or any singing course you are following shows you how to actually tune your vowel sounds instead of just ‘changing’ them in a haphazard way. AH does not become and OH vowel like you would learn in vowel modification, your AH vowel should stay pure, but your tongue root and soft palate should coordinate to widen your vocal tract, causing a slight hint of the OH sound – this is the true essence of vowel tuning in a physical sense.
#6 – Support, sport!
By setting up a strong foundation and developing appoggio singing technique, you will learn how to support you voice by altering your air pressure levels to ‘support’ your voice so that your singing is controlled via extension of the diaphragm rather than a push from your throat. This is where the technically incorrect, but popular phrase ‘sing from the diaphragm’ comes from.
#7 – Balance your onset
Your onset plays a bigger part in creating proper resonance than just how it starts. Your onset is linked with your chord closure, so an improper onset isn’t just a bad start, it’s bad chord closure. Learning to balance your onset in a coordinated way between an unhealthy glottal onset and an even more unhealthy breathy onset will leave you with the perfect balanced onset and perfect chord closure. This in turn will allow you to create better resonance and improve your vocal range. The best vocal range is one that involves a great onset and proper vocal chord closure.
#8 – Improving vocal range
Your high range isn’t the be all and end of a great vocal range, in fact, the health of your low and middle register actually play a part in how well you can sing into your high range. Improve your vocal range in your low and middle register, and you will inadvertently build control over your high range too. Expanding vocal range isn’t just about how high you can sing, it’s about how WELL you can sing across your full vocal range. A brand new electrical wire is useless if there is a break in the connection, and your voice is exactly the same. Tune up your low and middle range and sing correctly, even though you might not feel you have to in your low range, and your high range will soon appear much more easily.
#9 – Consonants shouldn’t be an obstacle, but they often are
Having a proper approach to singing consonants is the difference between singing scales and singing SONGS, which is ultimately the goal of all these exercises and the work you’ve been doing. If you’re simply trying to slur or slide past your consonants without having a proper approach for how to create them in their various types, your high range is going to suffer. I personally like to group them into the following types with an individual approach to each one depending on each student’s voice type, accent and unique voice makeup;
- Glottal – K, G, C
- Plosive – P, B
- Sibiliant – S, T, X
- Aspirated – H, F
- Open resonant – M, NG, N
- Closed resonant – L, R, W, Y
Each of these consonant types requires their own individual approach designed for your unique voice – does your current vocal routine have an approach to each of these consonant sounds and their groupings? If not, perhaps it’s time to try another coach.
#10 – Singing is more about coordination than musculature
I wish I was told this important point from day one when I was first learning how to sing. You don’t need to build a muscular vocal range or build a robust set of muscles to sing, you simply need to develop proper control and learn how to coordinate the different elements of your voice to learn how to sing correctly.
For example, most often singers experience issues with the “W” consonant and words like “WELL” or “WET” – if we coordinate everything on this list from breath support, consonant groupings, the mix coordination, onset and placement, this W will actually resonate like an “OO” vowel, more like “OO-ELL” and allow you to sing this consoanant with ease and power without straining. This didn’t take a MUSCULAR approach, it took coordination of various elements and aspects of your voice. Sure when you first start singing, you need to build strength into your diaphragmatic mechanism, and your two main vocal registers, but singing is more of a delicate art built on coordination, not brute force and ignorance.
Learn the techniques on this list and you’ll soon be able to coordinate your high register and increase vocal range with ease.
Since launching in 2010, Bohemian Vocal Studio has steadily grown into the premier vocal studio for professional singing lessons and become synonymous with POWERFUL voices and the most practical approach to singing technique. If you’re ready to take your voice to the next level and learn from the best online voice coach, you can book a Skype session today and expand your vocal range with ease!
Feel free to leave any questions or feedback below!
Kegan DeBoheme is Bohemian Vocal Studio’s resident vocal coach and voice expert. He teaches professional singing and voice technique to students all around the world and enjoys providing tutorials like this one on how to improve your voice.