Why Is My Voice So Low? (5 Baritone Singing Tips)
Are you blessed with a naturally low voice that can pull of a decent Johnny Cash impression, but goes pear shaped with strain any time you try to sing anything above a low rumble? Congratulations, it’s likely you’re a baritone – like me. Learning how to sing as a baritone was a mammoth task that really should have been an easy and enjoyable process, but unfortunately in the days where I was learning how to sing there simply wasn’t any resources out there for low voices like mine, and most of the vocal methods out there started in a range that was already uncomfortable for my baritone voice range. Thankfully, there is light at the end of the tunnel for you, my baritone friend, and it’s definitely not a train. With these Baritone singing tips, you’ll never have to ask “why is my voice so low?” again, and you’ll be excited at the prospects of which new song to tackle next!
Singing itself is a very simple process of balance, resonance and finesse – but learning HOW to do it can often be a confusing and frustrating task, but with these professional singing tips tailored towards baritone singers, you’ll learn how to sing better instantly while fixing your bad habits and making better choices with your low voice. Are you ready to sing better with these Baritone Singing Tips? Lets get started.
#1 – Connect Chest and Head Voice
Many baritone singers struggle to connect chest and head voice effectively due to the sheer weight of their natural vocal tone. As an oversimplification, your vocal range is simply a balance of vocal fold weight and vocal fold tension (stretch), and the pitch you sing is related to the physical frequency that your vocal chords vibrate at. With this in mind, it’s important that you understand that your low, booming baritone speaking tone isn’t really suited to healthy singing, and you need to learn how to drop some of the weight you’re carrying in your tone so that the mechanism can slide effortlessly between weight and tension like a gradient between black (heavy) and white (light). One of the best exercises to develop a connection between chest and head voice in the initial stages of developing your voice is a semi-occluded sound like a lip trill, or even one of your smaller vowel sounds like EE or OO. Take it slow, light and be sure you’re supporting your voice effectively so that you make use of resonance instead of aspirating too much air.
#2 – Chest voice is fooling you
Many baritone singers prefer the tone of their chest voice – the truth is, that it’s not actually the register itself they prefer, it’s actually the efficient resonance that occurs naturally in the chest range that they enjoy. With that in mind, it’s possible to develop the same powerful and efficient resonance in the head register and learn to blend the two so you retain some of the depth of chest while accessing the extensive range associated with head voice. Think about a really fantastic singer like Myles Kennedy or Aretha Franklin – are they yelling in their chest voice to hit high notes? Of course not, they’ve learned how to blend their registers to unlock their high register while retaining the full sound of their chest voice. The answer to increasing your range isn’t stretching your chest voice, it’s actually to connect chest and head effectively while developing an appropriate blend between the two different types of resonance. In short, chest voice is fooling you…
#3 – Your accent matters
This is something that I personally struggled with a lot when I first started learning how to sing, not only because of my low baritone range, but also because of my broad Australian accent. Very few vocal methods or singing courses out there gave a second thought to the fact that I simply pronounce my vowels and sounds differently to that of an American or Italian – and the word references I was given to either form my vowels properly or modify my vowels to allow resonant space in the high range really weren’t appropriate for the “voice in my head” so to speak. An example of this is the manner with which an American voice coach speaks the word “Game” – ultimately the same way that they sing the word, so this can be a great way to set up the larynx, soft palate and achieve compression… However, with my Aussie accent, the word “Game” is an altogether different ‘game’, and features an open soft palate with airflow through the nose, a harsh glottal attack and a forward articulation that ultimately – completely unsuitable for setting up the vocal tract. Making a distinct separation between the speaking and singing voice will absolutely change your life as a singer, and when you learn that vowel sounds aren’t “pronounced” in singing, but simply shaped using the back of the tongue and vocal tract, your range will open up like never before.
#4 – Chest Voice isn’t “resting phase”
With a rich, deep speaking voice, it’s likely you’ve become accustomed to excessive weight in the vocal folds. The truth is, chest voice isn’t actually the voice in ‘resting’ phase, it’s actually created by a contraction of the vocal folds via engagement of the Vocalis muscles. You can try this yourself by going from total silence to a note in your low range. Can you feel the vocal fold contraction and muscular sensation that comes with your low range? Now, as you approach the middle range, or even the lower parts of a sung originally sung by a Tenor, you need to release this contraction of the vocal folds so that the natural switch in the mechanism between weight and tension can occur. Chest voice isn’t loose and floppy vocal folds, it’s actually vocal folds that have been contracted in a muscular sense. Learn to control and release this contraction and you’ll learn to sing instead of yell. Many baritone singers make the mistake of carrying this vocal weight contraction into their high range simple because they are SO used to this amount of weight in their speaking voice – at the end of the day, Chest Voice isn’t actually your voice in the resting phase.
#5 – Head Voice Isn’t Wrong or Weak
Many baritone singers avoid head voice because it’s weak, or they don’t like the sound (Mickey Mouse anyone?), but the truth is, Head Voice is simply a form of resonance that makes up your high range care of the higher/faster frequencies that your vocal folds vibrate with when you sing a high note. By avoiding head voice because you don’t like the sound, you’re actually perpetuating a pushed, unpleasant sound because half of your frequencies aren’t being implemented. This is like a runner strengthening on their left leg – at the end of the day they’re only going to be able to run in circles. Head voice is a natural and powerful aspect of your voice, learn to use it properly and your question will change from “Why is my voice so low” to “What song will I tackle next?”.
If your head voice is weak, it’s because you haven’t developed your vocal mechanism properly. Don’t just give in to a weak high range, or shouting to hit high notes – develop your vocal technique properly for a powerful range that will soar instead of being sore.
A great place to start is the free Foundations 101 singing course available here at Bohemian Vocal Studio which will show you how to set up a rock solid foundation for your voice – foundation in singing is just like the foundations of a house, and serves as the concrete base that your vocal range will be built upon. If you’re ready to take your voice to the next level with professional voice coaching, you’re welcome to book a Skype Lesson with me and we’ll start working towards extending your range and building balance and consistency in your voice every time you sing!
If you have any questions about learning how to sing when you have a low voice, or why is my voice so low, feel free to leave any feedback or questions 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.