Soloist of Rejoice Gospelchoir (Germany) © Jonas Persson

5 Tips to Expand Your Vocal Range Safely

…and 3 Singing Exercises to Start With

Your Voice

Singing in a choir often requires you to sing outside of your comfort zone. But when the part you’re singing surpasses your comfortable vocal range, what’s the best solution? How can you sing a note outside of your range without cracking, straining, or ruining your voice? Here are five safe and effective ways you can increase your vocal range and three vocal exercises you can start with to bring your voice to its fullest potential.

5 Tipps to Expand The Vocal Range

If you follow these tips and integrate them into your daily singing routine, you are already on a good way to expanding your vocal range:

1. Relax

Singing while your muscles are tense is never a good idea. It can limit your vocal energy and can cause you to hurt your voice, particularly if you’re going for those especially high or low notes. Try doing some head rolls, shoulder rolls, articulation exercises, or any other stretches that will help you relieve tension.

2. Use good posture

Good posture is key when it comes to choral singing, especially when going outside of your comfortable range. Stand as tall as you can and pull your shoulders back, opening up underneath your collarbone. Let your arms hang loosely by your side and keep your knees slightly bent with your feet shoulder-width apart. Make sure you aren’t jutting your chin forward or sticking your bottom out, in order to keep your spine in alignment. All of this will help you find power in your body while singing.

3. Breathe with your diaphragm

Take a few deep breaths and pay attention to what happens to your body. Do your shoulders rise and fall with your breath? While this is the way most of us breathe on a day-to-day basis, you might be surprised to learn that it’s actually not the most efficient way to use breath, especially when you’re singing. Instead, try to breathe from your belly. When you inhale, your stomach should expand, and when you exhale, it should return to normal. This is breathing using your diaphragm, and it helps you as a choral singer use your breath to help you control the notes you sing.

4. Always warm up before you sing

One reason you may feel like you aren’t reaching your fullest potential is that your voice isn’t fully warmed up when you sing with your choir. Sing through some scales a bit first instead of

immediately jumping into your song. Doing so will make you much less likely to hurt your voice, and will help you reach some of those high or low notes you’re aiming for. Often, choirs will warm up together before a performance, but if you want to work on your own and you aren’t quite sure how to warm up your voice, check out our video on this here.

5. Integrate vocal health into your daily routine

If you yell or whisper often, consume a lot of sugary, acidic, or drying foods, or even just don’t get enough sleep, it can take a serious toll on your voice. Here are some things to keep in mind when you want to keep your voice at its best for choral singing:

  • Stay hydrated
  • Cut back on sugar (it’s inflammatory)
  • Avoid spicy or acidic foods (these dry or irritate your throat)
  • Steer clear of liquid dairy (this creates mucus)
  • Get at least 8 to 10 hours of sleep every night
  • Don’t yell or whisper often
  • Don’t force notes you aren’t comfortable with

3 Singing Exercises To Expand Your Vocal Range

Now that you know these five steps, here are three exercises to start with when trying to improve your vocal range:

1. Octave slide

Start on a note lower in your vocal range and slide up to the note an octave above, then back down again. Keep going until you reach your highest note. If you reach a point where your voice breaks from chest to head voice, do your best to smoothly slide between the two.

2. Sirens

On an “ooh” sound, slide from the lowest note you can sing to your highest. Do this up and down your range a few times; it might sound silly, but it’s very effective!

3. Lip trills

This is similar to the previous exercise, but instead of going up and down on an “ooh” sound, blow air through your lips with a sound that - if you were to hold it on one note - would sound a bit like revving the motor of a car.

Even with all of this, remember that drastic changes don’t happen overnight. Don’t hurt yourself. Sometimes you won’t be able to sing some notes, and that’s alright; don’t beat yourself up. Choral music is challenging, and everyone’s voice is made differently, which isn’t a bad thing. If you put in the necessary time and effort, you’ll be able to access all of your voice’s untapped potential and hit those high and low notes as beautifully as you possibly can! 

If you feel like you still need a little help to start with, then we recommend you have a look at this article with the 5 best singing teachers on Youtube for free online vocal lessons!

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