Well gang, my intent was to finish this series on increasing your vocal range with a video blog. But after trying unsuccessfully all night to get it to load to YouTube I’ve decided to just write my thoughts down for you rather than miss my deadline.
We’ve talked a lot about breathing in the last two installments. In part one I drove home the point that simply pushing and singing harder to “reach” for high notes is NOT the way to increase your range. In fact it’s a pretty sure way of losing what you do have.
But as I stated before, many people still don’t understand the importance of learning to breathe properly for singing as it relates to your range. Most of us think the only think about breathing when we’re running out of air for notes and phrases. However, the way we breathe, or more specifically the way we use our air to reach high notes has everything to do with almost all of the most common issues that plague us as singers.
In part 2 of the series I wanted to show you just how critical it is that we as singers learn how to use less air to sing and STOP the hard pushing. Again, not just for the sake of increasing how long you can hold a note. But the fact is, pushing hard for the high notes is really tough on your vocal cords and can cause significant damage over time.
I talked about how the vocal cords work to produce sound and how they use the air we send up so we really understand how pushing for the note affects your vocal cords in a very bad way.
So that leads us to today’s installment (video still stuck at 93%), lol). Hopefully if you haven’t understood anything else from the series so far, you understand that you can’t increase your range by continuing to do what you’re doing now. So no matter where you are with your talent; no matter how anointed or naturally gifted you are; if you’ve never had any kind of vocal training it’s imperative that you do so.
I made a very important point in one of the other blogs, that before you can increase your range by adding notes to the total number you can reach, you must first get to a place where you can reach all of the notes you can sing currently without yelling, screaming or pushing for them. If you do that, then you’ve dramatically increased what I call your “usable” range.
Remember that one and a half octave range I said most people have naturally? And the point I made about how it’s usually those last 4 notes that give most singers the biggest problems? Well in Gospel music, most songs written for choirs and even praise teams put us in keys that force us to sing those notes a LOT. We’re usually singing somewhere in the highest part of our chest voice by the time we reach that “vamp” of the song.
Imagine now a song you sing with the choir that’s really high toward the end. Think about the part that’s really high. Think about the words you’re singing there. What if that note (and it’s usually one, isn’t it?) were easy for you? How much of a profound difference in the singing experience would that make for you?
But think about this: Most Gospel songs are only written in an area that includes about 5 notes. That’s because that’s where choirs and praise teams sound their best. So songs like “Grateful” By Hezekiah Walker represent the upper end of where most Gospel songs end up. “Miracles” by Beverly Crawford, for example, is in the same key as Grateful and basically requires you to sing the same notes in the vamp.
So what if those notes were comfortable for you? If those notes were comfortable for you then 80 to 90% of the songs you encounter in Gospel music would be comfortable too, because the vast majority of it would be right around that key or below it.
So how to you get to a place where you can sing those notes comfortably? By learning simple vocal exercises and techniques. Vocal training teaches you how to use your voice safely and with much less effort. You learn that you don’t need even a fraction of the air you normally use to hit those high notes. You learn vocal exercises that strengthen your vocal cords and lower your larynx. You learn how to approach the notes at the upper end of your range with much less strain and force, but without losing any of the power and fullness we love as Gospel singers.
Believe it or not, some of the most important vocal exercises we use to help our students achieve these things have been included in my home study vocal training course, Vocal Ministry Breakthrough. If you haven’t done so already I highly recommend starting there.
The bottom line is, your voice is your instrument and you’re the musician that plays it. And like every musician, you need to learn everything you can about your instrument in order to be the best musician you can be.