Your vocal range is the amount of notes you can reach normally and comfortably. This usually runs parallel to the range of your normal speaking voice. Your normal speaking voice is usually rooted in the chest area, and on average, encompasses eight to twelve notes on a scale. This scale is usually unique to each person's voice and vocal range. Therefore, vocal range is quite relative with each and every person. So, if your voice has a general range of two octaves, someone else with that same range might end their range either higher or lower than yours.
Is it possible to extend your natural vocal range from one or two octaves? Yes, it is, but it requires the use of some of the factors that we have already talked about. One is that it will require you to manage and learn to control your head voice.
Chest & Head Voice
Your chest voice is usually your speaking voice range. It is natural and transforms to become your vocal range in singing. You can also use your chest voice to reach lower vocal ranges. Your head voice, on the other hand, will help you resonate sounds that may not be as easily done when you are speaking. When you are singing, your head voice allows you to sing higher, perhaps up to an octave or higher than what your natural chest voice will allow.
You can feel your head voice by attempting to move from a low tone to a higher one. As your voice progresses up the scale, you'll notice that your head is becoming a bit lighter. As your voice progresses higher, be sure to focus on the movement and positioning of your lips to help take the strain away from your vocal chords.
Practicing your Vocal Range:
One way you can improve your vocal range and gain control over it is to do something similar to what we talked about in the previous lesson. You'll need to first choose a song. But, this time, you'll want to choose a song that will extend your vocal range a bit more. Now, you don't want to pick something so difficult and high in its tonal range that you stress your voice or become reckless in all that you have learned so far. Choose an easy song that perhaps reaches an octave or so higher than what your regular chest voice will allow.
At first, what you will want to do is to practice extending from your regular chest voice up into your head voice. This is sometimes referred to as your 'head register' or 'head cavity'. In any regard, what you want to do is to practice hearing and then moving your own voice from your regular, comfortable chest voice up into your head. Refer to the lessons earlier where we talked about how the muscle groups and ligaments should work together to help you create a proper, resonating head voice.
You can also begin experimenting with the lowering of your vocal range too. When you move away from your head voice, try returning to it and then going one or two tones in pitch than what you are normally used to doing. When you sing from your chest, you want to be sure that you do not strain your neck or chest muscles and that you keep your chin straight and normal. Do not lower the chin or press it closer to your neck in order to reach the lowest note possible. This could actually induce injury on or strain your vocal chords and surrounding ligaments and muscles.
More About Head Voice & Neck Voice for Higher Pitch and Tones:
The feelings and control of the head voice will come with time and practice. The above ideas and exercises should be thought about and completed carefully. You do not want to endanger or strain your singing muscles each and every day. Like training for a sport, you have to have some days for rest and some days where you build upon the skills and benchmarks that you have already set. Only in this way, will you grow and progress in your singing.
Also, it should be noted, that when you are practicing your head voice and lower chest voices, you should try not to do so when you are sick, strained, or tired. When you are not up to 'par' with your health, there is a good chance you will have to rest your vocal chords and body so you will not injure them. Your body, at this time, is not ready to endure the strain that practicing different ranges with your voice might entail. So, when you are congested, sick, or tired, try to rest and heal. If you do practice during this time, you will not actually be building on the skills you have been working so hard to attain.
Another area you might notice when you are trying to sing at tonal levels that are above your normal octave is a phenomenon called your neck voice. The sensation is a resonating one that feels as if it is passing through the back of your throat as it is emitted up into your head and through your mouth cavity. It almost feels as if the sound is resonating off of the larynx. And, if this is something that you become aware of in your own singing voice, that is great! This phenomenon isn't discussed much and is usually considered by most instructors of singing as a part of the head voice.
When you practice singing, you always want to try to attempt mastering the skill of 'masking'. We can define 'masking' as the skillful covering up of vocal transitions as you move from lower keys to higher pitches; from your chest voice up into your head capacities. As you sing, and as you feel the transition from one range or note to another, try to do it as smoothly as possible, so that the transition is both inaudible and unnoticeable.