Magic Choral Trick #209 Singing Outside of Your Range

One of the problems with being a good musician in a choir is that you sometimes get asked to compromise your voice to boost a section that needs help.

This happens most often to sopranos who read well. You can get put into the alto section on a temporary basis, which, if you do a great job, can stretch into years. It would probably be ok if you could just sing along quietly – taking care to sing well technically – but that’s rarely the scenario. You were put into the section to lead. So now, not only are you habitually singing out of your range, but you’re also pushing the sound and singing loud enough to be of assistance to those around you.

Unless you’re using your Broadway belting voice (which I suspect would be unpopular in your choir) you’re oversinging the bottom end of your range, and doing damage.

If we’re talking about one short rehearsal a week, your voice probably has time to recover before the next time. But at this time of year, when choirs are having extra rehearsals and many performances, my guess is that by Christmas Eve you’ll be just barely croaking out the carols.

So what to do?

If you’re singing a part that’s physically uncomfortable for you, tell your choir director.

If you’re singing a part that’s too low, sing quietly and place the sound as far forward in the mouth as you can (see the various suggestions for this in post #200). It should sound thin and a bit mean in your own head. A focused sound actually projects much better than a big blustery one – and will be of more assistance to those around you, without doing damage to your voice.

If you’re singing a part that’s too high you have a number of options.

If there are enough tenors or sopranos who love the stratosphere, leave the highest notes for them.

If you’re unhappy faking the high notes, you’re going to need to do some homework. It’s amazing just how quickly you can expand your range upwards when you do 10 or 15 minutes of singing practice every day. Start with a solid 4 or 5 minutes of singing scales very slowly to Zzzzzz (Start with a B Major scale, then a C Major scale, then a C sharp Major etc.). Go over some of your choir songs to Zzzzz. Almost immediately, they should be easier. Singing your choir’s warm up exercises in the mid to mid-high range will also help your high range. Anything you can do to improve your vocal placement will help. (See blog post #200 for more tips )

Or best of all – take some singing lessons


About janetkidd

I've been waving my arms in front of choirs now for more than 35 years - and these are descriptions of all the very best things I've learned. I direct a Women's Competitive Barbershop Chorus, a Men's Competitive Barbershop Chorus, a Med School choir, and for a few weeks each year - Big Choir (about 100 voices) - which performs at an annual fundraising concert. Hope at least some of these Choral Magic Tricks will be useful to you - and thanks for reading. Janet

Posted on December 11, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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