What do Axl Rose, Mariah Carey, and Christina Aguilera have in common? Aside from lots of money and bragging rights, it’s also an insane vocal range. Characterized by the ability to hit the highest of highs and lowest of lows, these voices possess a sense of control, flexibility, and expression that many singers only dream about. But here’s the thing… you can expand your vocal range too!
Sure, not everyone will be able to match Mariah’s whistle register that’s put her in the singer’s hall of fame, but you’d be shocked at what a few simple exercises can do when it comes to reaching higher notes. Whether you’re hoping to finally nail the belting number you’ve practiced since high school or even embrace your alto side, here are the best ways to expand your vocal range….
Set a goal and be kind to your voice
First, understand where you are now and where you’d like to go with your voice. Expanding your range can be like a yoga practice. It takes time, but those gradual stretches will lead to dramatic changes as time passes. So don’t expect overnight results (and don’t PUSH your voice when it’s not ready!). Instead, take nice easy slides with your favorite SOVT (Singing / Straw HELLO!) and see how high and how low you can go each day. No judgment; just take note. You can safely expand that range by continuing to exercise to your highest and lowest notes on straw (not in song).
Watch your posture
Do you remember hearing your mom tell you to “stand up straight” or “stop slouching!”? Well, she wasn’t wrong! Great posture isn’t just the key to confidence but also a killer vocal range that you didn’t even know you had. You see, slumping your shoulders can result in less breath support and an overextending neck, causing tightness and larynx heightening, which can limit your range and potentially may even lead to vocal fatigue down the line. If you’re hoping to hit those high notes and preserve your vocal cords, remember to find a nice, easy-aligned posture.
Sing a siren song with your straw
We’re not talking about mermaids and their magical voices here, but rather the equally majestic vocal exercise made to improve your range! A siren warmup mimics a fire truck's sound and helps activate the muscles attached to your larynx, or voice box. This gives your vocal cords more space to “stretch” and create all kinds of notes beyond your wildest dreams. How do you accomplish a siren warmup, exactly? All you need is your singing straw.
With your Singing StrawTM at the ready, make an “oooh” sound into your tool, starting at the bottom of your vocal range. Still holding onto the note in your straw, move upwards until you reach the absolute highest note possible. Pretend you’re putting your car in reverse, and bring the note back down again until you’re where you started. Do a few of these each day and watch your vocal range grow!
Enhance your vocal health
Singers should always take excellent care of their voice, but it’s especially key when you’re trying to expand your range! Factors such as too little sleep, too many late-night foods, or even excessive shouting at the TV (we’ve all been there) could be a dealbreaker regarding your belt ability. The good news? This is an easily fixable issue that will benefit not only your voice, but also your mental and physical health.
This means getting at least eight hours of sleep per night, staying hydrated throughout the day, and preserving your voice when possible. And pay attention to what you’re doing on those days when your voice just feels GOOD. We all have triggers that can cause our voice to act up, and learning what your body needs is key to a sustainably healthy voice.Your voice and body will thank you, and you’ll be shocked to see how much these healthy habits can grow your range.