Every singer wants to add more notes to their range, and for good reason. Even though most of us don’t need nearly as many octaves as we think, the more notes we have easy access to the more flexibility we have. The key here is the word “easy”. Most singers have about one and a half octaves of range naturally, without any vocal training. That’s actually enough for many songs, to be honest. But the problem is, only the first 8 notes of that one and a half octaves is really comfortable enough to use for any length of time for most singers. The last 4 notes most people can reach are pretty uncomfortable, to the point of yelling.
So the first step to increasing your range is getting full control of all the notes in your range currently. Any note you’re screaming for is technically not in your range when you think about it. If you’re screaming to reach it, you can’t stay there very long or hit it very many times. So even though these notes are “technically” in your range, they’re not very usable for you in most songs.
Your first priority then should be learning to reach that last 4 notes past one octave comfortably. To do that requires some “unlearning” of the typical ways most of us reach those notes. For most people when we think about reaching higher notes we think about using more air. Pushing harder. In fact as Gospel singers, more air is the way we accomplish almost everything we want. More range, more air velocity. More volume, more air velocity. More power– you get the idea. The irony of it all is that the very things we do to try to help our voices accomplish these things are the very things that hinder us from accomplishing them.
It’s going to sound strange when I say this, but the real way to accomplish more than you ever wanted to accomplish with your voice is to do less than you ever have before. Like every musician, a singer needs to learn all he can about his instrument. When you really understand how the voice works you’ll understand why pushing hard to hit those high notes is NOT the way to increase your range.
Despite what you may have heard, simply pushing harder until you can gradually sing higher is NOT the way to increase your range safely. It is however the fastest way to start losing what you already have. While it’s true that some people do add a couple of notes to their range by using this “brute force” method of pushing and muscling your way up to higher notes, this is a very unhealthy way to increase your range. When you do it this way you’re really just back to square one. Higher notes that are really not very usable to you for any length of time because you’re screaming to reach them.
In order to properly and safely increase your range; meaning you now easily reach and sustain notes you had to yell to reach before; you must seek a deeper understanding of your instrument and how it works.
For example you always hear people talking about the importance of learning how to breathe properly for singers. But most singers think that’s mainly for the purpose of being able to hold notes longer. That’s part of it, but the real reason to learn how to breathe properly and not push so hard is that doing so causes a chain reaction series of events inside your body.
These things all conspire together to cause all of the strain, tightness, dizziness, coughing, hoarseness and pretty-much every other negative or bad thing you experience when you’re singing toward the very top end of your range. In my home study course Vocal Ministry Breakthrough I teach you vocal exercises and techniques that help you overcome and eliminate all of these common issues so you can sing at the top of your current range easily. And that’s the key to adding more notes.
So I’m going to start a series of blogs to discuss this in great detail. We’ll learn how the voice works by taking a close, detailed look at exactly what happens when you push and yell for those high notes. We’ll learn how the vocal cords produce higher notes and how pushing for those notes HINDERS the vocal cords’ ability to produce them for you. All that and more will be discussed in this blog series on increasing your range.
Stay tuned and keep reading!