5 Essential Facts About Your Vocal Range

For lowest to highest – Lisa Popeil shares why the notes you can sing matter.

All instrumentalists know which notes their instruments can play; why not singers as well? – asks Lisa Popeil

Vocal range is an aspect of a singer’s life that can cause a lot of stress and anxiety. Maybe you envy Mariah Carey or Prince’s high range – or the deep notes of Barry White. Maybe you’ve wanted to increase your range, determine your lowest and highest note or maybe just know what’s average for singers like you.

Don’t worry, it’s normal to obsess over your singing range.

At Singdaptive, experienced instructor Lisa Popeil has dealt with range issues with stars like Weird Al Yankovic to singers just starting out.

Lisa shares 5 facts about vocal range. We’ll also share how Singdaptive can help you with your range starting now!

1. Your range is preset

Like your height or eye color, your vocal range is preset by genetics. Though it may change by a note or two, like when you’re sick or when you age, your vocal range is determined by the size of your vocal folds. The larger your folds, the lower your voice; likewise, the smaller your folds, the higher your range.

Singers who create a Singdaptive account do a few personal exchanges back and forth with an instructor. In the very first exchange you share your goals. A common goal singers mention is extending or just knowing their vocal range.

2. Your vocal range is huge

The average human vocal range is 3 and 1/3 octaves. That’s huge! That’s about 40 notes in total on which the average person can produce sound. Most singers, even very experienced professionals, often underestimate the length of their range capacity.

3. What does it mean to “expand your range”?

Once you discover your range, then vocalize on all of the notes your vocal folds can make. That way, the notes which are adjacent to the extreme edges of your range will become more comfortable and dependable for regular use. By vocalizing on all the notes of your range, you’ll have trained your vocal folds to stretch and thin as you sing higher and shorten and squoosh as you singer lower, kind of like yoga class for your voice.

4. Range doesn’t determine your sound – only which notes you can sing

Since your vocal folds primarily determine your range, what gives you your unique voice? Your head! Well really, it’s the spaces in your head: your throat, your mouth and your sinuses which determine the timbre or color of your voice. Therefore you could have soprano vocal folds with a mezzo-soprano head or if a male, you could have baritone vocal folds with a tenor head. Hybrids such as these often have the most unique voices, so it’s not at all a bad thing to have a mismatch between your vocal folds and your resonator.

5. Talent doesn’t necessarily correspond with size of range

Surprisingly, there seems to be no relationship between size of range and singing talent.

Surprisingly, there seems to be no relationship between size of range and singing talent. Though I have heard many singers who were naturally gifted and possessed a 4+ octave range, I’ve also heard terrific singers who had less than 3 octaves and mediocre singers with 4 octaves. It goes to show that there’s a lot more to being a great singer than the length of your vocal range. It’s what you DO with your notes that counts.

Don’t be afraid to experiment to discover your lowest and highest note. It’s a vital piece of your vocal identity. All instrumentalists know which notes their instruments can play – why not singers as well?

Lisa Popeil

Lisa Popeil is one of LA’s top voice coaches with over 40 years of professional teaching experience. As a singer, she’s performed and recorded with Frank Zappa and ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic and her album ‘Lisa Popeil’ was a Billboard ‘Top Album Pick’. Lisa has an MFA in Voice, is the creator of the Voiceworks® Method, and is regularly featured in leading music magazines, journals, books and conferences.