I Want to Increase My Vocal Range

Discover what stands between you and a larger range –says Leontine Hass

Hi Leontine – and hope you had a good holiday. I need to get an advice from you on how to increase my vocal range and what type of vocal exercises I need to achieve it? Thanks and more power!

– Edwin

Dear Edwin,

Right: a big question. Vocal range tends to increase slowly and with lots of practice.

First of all, I suggest you establish what your current vocal range actually is. If you play the piano it is easy to do this.

Once you have worked this out, the easiest and quickest solution would be to book in with a good vocal coach for the following reasons:

-A vocal coach can hear what sort of voice type you have. This means they can take a reasonable guess what you might be expected to sing if you were trained. If you are a bass/baritone for instance, laboring too much at the very top of your voice will not harvest the desired results as your voice is made to sit lower down. This will help you to have reasonable and healthy expectations.

-The vocal coach will also be able to hear what you do as you approach your passagio (somewhere around c-f). Typically an untrained male voice will do one of two things to try to get beyond the passagio. They will either flip into a thin falsetto, or they will move into a loud belt, unable to sing quietly. Your vocal coach should be able to determine which of these two evils are yours and show you how to stay in true head voice. If you already stay in true head voice then that is great. This, then, needs more practice, more stretching, more time spent on high notes.

-A good vocal coach will also determine which parts of your physiology are getting in the way of a better range. Your larynx could sit very high if your sternocleidomastoids are tense (this happens if you tend to stick your neck out). This inhibits range at the top and the bottom of the voice. Your tongue root could be tense. This stops the larynx from rising for high notes. You could have difficulty tilting (the thyroid cartilage tilts in order to stretch the vocal folds out for higher pitches). Lack of support is a fundamental matter to address. There are many possibilities which a good singing teacher can address.

Here are some tips for practicing you range:

* Siren up and down throughout your vocal range every day.

* Practice high notes on quick scales but also practice sustaining them to build up stamina.

* Stick your tongue out 10 times, 2-3 time a day to train the back of the tongue root to come forward.

* Imagine that you are ‘crying’ when singing high pitches (this helps tilt the thyroid).

* Practice to the top and the bottom of your range every day and try to practice high pitches at least 8-10 times (not just once at the top of a scale.

Good luck and have fun singing -but do go for some lessons!


  • Jonathan Hunter

    Good advice, but there seems to be some conflicting information regarding larynx height and high notes:
    1. “Your larynx could sit very high if your sternocleidomastoids are tense… This inhibits range at the top and the bottom of the voice.”
    2. “Your tongue root could be tense. This stops the larynx from rising for high notes.”
    I certainly agree with the latter but don’t see how contracted SCMs contribute to a high larynx considering they have no muscular attachments to the larynx…? This would suggest that the larynx rises on a very deep breath (as the SCMs contract as accessory muscles of inspiration) when in fact it tends to lower due to tracheal pull. Or that the larynx would rise every time we turn our head, since the SCMs also contribute to this movement.