Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Learn to Sing Within Your Range

Learn to sing high notes and astonish your friends! Shatter the stemware! Sing higher than howling dogs!

I don't know about you, but I am leery of these advertisements that promise to increase a singer's upper register a couple of octaves. I wonder if they are floated by the same people who promise you can learn to speak French by 3:30 this afternoon. Or build an Olympic body in just five minutes a day.

Does anybody really need to shatter glass? If there is a need to break glass, wouldn't it be easier to use a hammer rather than a singer? Yes, of course I realize that breaking glass is considered to be a sign of robust vocal prowess. But it is just this sort of thing that moves music out of the realm of human expression and onto the slippery slope of carnie gimmicks.

So I suppose the big question is this: do you want to sing in a way that touches people's hearts, or do you want to do carnival tricks? If you want to be a real singer then you need to put your time, money, and effort toward becoming the best communicator you can possibly be within the registers you already have.

This is not to say that a singer should not challenge their comfort zone and stretch out to reach for high notes, but don't you feel a singer's primary goal should be to connect emotionally with the audience?

If you continually try to wow the audience with over-the-top high notes and meaningless melismas (the singing of a group of moving notes on one syllable) all their attention may be centered on waiting for that next glass-breaking high note rather than focused on the bond you could be building with them through the words of your song and the emotional tones and rhythms of your voice.

The average singer can sing a span of about two octaves, a highly trained professional singer about three, and there are a few extraordinary singers like Mariah Carey and Georgia Brown who can sing comfortably spanning three or four octaves. To my knowledge Georgia Brown in the UK is the only singer who can actually sing a full eight octaves and make a living at it.

Hitting the high notes with ease is important to a singer’s development, after all, few people are waiting breathlessly to see if the singer will hit the middle note. But, a singer will do best if he or she were to strive to hit the high notes within their personal vocal range and do it well, rather than to squeak out higher high notes that lie beyond their natural range and execute them poorly.

Nashville vocal coach Renee Grant-Williams reveals the trade secrets that have already helped hundreds of aspiring singers become celebrities: Tim McGraw, Martina McBride, Dixie Chicks, Miley Cyrus, Huey Lewis, Kenny Chesney, Faith Hill, Jason Aldean, Christina Aguilera...

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