Establishing the notes that you can sing allows you to choose the material that suits your voice. To do this, you must learn how to find your vocal range. There are several easy that you can take to do this.
Your voice can be strengthened through consistent practice and taking the proper measures, but it helps to know where your current range is. In this guide, I’ll show you how to gauge the top and bottom notes that you are currently capable of singing.
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What Is a Vocal Range?
The term vocal range describes the frequencies that you are capable of producing with your voice, both at the bottom of your registration and at its upper limit. These frequencies are measure in musical notes.
Many singers think their vocal range is either more extensive or more limited than it is. Part of this confusion comes from an unawareness of the difference between their chest voice and head voice.
You don’t need an advanced level of music theory knowledge to find your vocal range. Don’t worry if you’re not experienced with notation, the steps that I outline in this guide will make it easy for you to gauge your current singing capabilities.
As a vocalist, it can be disheartening to attempt to reach a certain note in a song, only to find that your voice breaks and falls short of the correct pitch.
Thankfully, once you’re aware of your vocal range, you can prevent this from happening by only attempting to sing the notes that you know are within your ability. This will prevent you from damaging your voice in the long term.
Without further ado, let’s get into the most effective methods for establishing your vocal range.
Step 1 – Warming Up
Warming up your voice may not be the most exciting part of this process, but it’s essential nonetheless. Finding your vocal range requires you to push your voice to its limits, and without preparing beforehand you won’t get an accurate measure of it.
If you don’t already have a vocal warm-up routine that you carry out before singing, I’d strongly suggest you start now. Warming up your voice improves performance and protects it from short and long-term damage.
You might be surprised by the improvement that a simple vocal warm-up has on your vocal range. Notes that seemed out of reach may well be within your grasp if you prepare your diaphragm, throat, and muscles correctly.
Here’s a simple vocal warm-up routine that only takes 5-10 minutes that you can add to your practice –
To start, use the lip roll technique to blow air from your mouth without producing any notes. Do this until your facial muscles feel relaxed, and your breathing becomes controlled.
Then, repeat this exercise while singing a note that feels comfortable. Don’t aim for a note that is too high or low at this point, just stick to the middle of your vocal range. Once you’ve done this a few times, move up and down the scale from your starting note.
If you’re not familiar with scales, there are plenty of online videos that you can sing along to. Lip roll your way through the notes, without pushing too hard.
Then, repeat this exercise while singing “ya” sounds. Move up and down the scales again until your voice feels stronger. Repeat this singing an “mm” sound, and then again with the “oh” sound.
Each of these different sounds causes your mouth to form a new shape and engages different muscles in your neck and face. Once you’ve done it for 5-10 minutes, sing through a song that you know is comfortable and well suited to your voice.
You’re now ready to move onto the main steps for finding your vocal range!
Step 2 – Finding Your Most Comfortable Range
Every vocalist has a natural singing range that is most comfortable. For some people, this may be in the lower registers, while others may find it easier to sing higher notes. This doesn’t mean that they’re incapable of singing high or low, however.
Before you start to belt out the highest note in your vocal range or begin crooning bass notes, you need to figure out where your voice is most comfortable. To do this, the following simple exercise is highly effective.
Start by holding a note that feels low, somewhere in the region of your natural talking voice. Then, gradually glide up from that note, getting higher and higher, until you notice that it requires some effort to reach a certain pitch.
When you feel that there is some tension in your vocal cords, stop singing. Now, try to sing a note that resides somewhere in between the low note that you began with, and the higher note that you finished with.
This is the range that your voice naturally is most comfortable singing. Pay attention to the feeling of the notes in this range – they should be relatively effortless and require minimal power from your diaphragm to reach.
Now that you’ve established the range in which you feel most comfortable singing, it’s time to find the lowest note that you can produce. You’ll need some form of pitch reference – a piano or guitar is preferable, but you can use an online note generator if you don’t have access to either of those.
For this exercise, you’re going to sing the sound of the word “oh”. This sound allows you to reach lower due to the shape it causes your mouth to take, which subsequently affects the vibration of your vocal muscles.
Sing the lowest note that you can comfortably hold for 10 seconds. Focus on keeping the pitch consistent and don’t go so low that the tone becomes weak. Now, using your instrument or note generator, identify the exact note that you are singing.
This might take a little while, and you might find that you’re singing a note that is slightly sharper or flatter than the frequency in a scale. If this happens, simply find the closest one to the note you are singing, and raise or lower your pitch slightly to match it.
Now you’ve found the lowest note in your vocal range. You can write this down to remember it, but make sure you also write the number of the octave, for example, C5. Now you can move on to find the highest note that you are capable of singing.
Step 4 – Aiming Higher
The process of identifying the highest note in your vocal range is the same as the aforementioned method, but there are some additional things to be aware of. Singing high notes can put a strain on your vocal muscles, so proceed with caution.
Start by singing a note that feels comfortable, and gradually raise the pitch until you have transcended your chest voice range. This will lead you through your head voice, and into your falsetto range.
You’ll know when you’re singing in falsetto, because the tone becomes thinner, and you are engaging your diaphragm less. It feels like you are singing with a much lighter timbre than when you’re using chest voice.
Gradually sing higher, and once you reach a pitch that feels like you can’t ascend any further, hold that note for a few seconds. Again, try to find that note on your instrument. Write down the note, and the number of the octave again.
After completing the steps outlined in this guide, you will know the highest and lowest notes that are in your vocal range. Now you can use this knowledge when choosing which key to sing a certain song in, and which notes to use when composing or performing melodies.