the surprising way to expand your range

The Surprising Way To Expand Your Range

If you’re hitting a wall as you work to achieve your goals, try backing off and softening past your limits to expand your range.

The Surprising Lesson

I’ve always found great joy in singing. In fact, I was voted “most likely to spontaneously burst into song” in high school.

From grade school through college, I sang in every choir available, always as an alto. My voice was so low that in a pinch, I would help out the tenors. Each time I had a new director, I would announce, “I’m an alto, I don’t sing above a third space C.” I’m solid with tight harmony, so no one argued.

I would have loved to sing higher but accepted the range I was given.

How Do You Expand Your Range?

Shortly after college graduation, my friends Jeff and Catherine asked me to sing at their wedding. The music was tricky, so I used my first real paycheck to hire a voice teacher from Peabody to help me prepare. I approached my voice teacher, Laura, as I had every music teacher since Ms. Elsie, my church junior choir director. “I’m an alto … what’s the best way to expand my range?

Laura’s first question was, “How do you know?”

I just laughed, “Oh you’ll see … but I’m okay with it … I’m just here to get some help with these complicated runs.”

“Let’s not make any assumptions.”

I then belted out my best alto bravado, stopped at C and smiled. “See?”

“Your pushing too hard. You want it too much. Lighten up, back off and sing it like Julia Child.”

Backing off felt scary, I was attached to my “big voice.”

Within two weeks, my range had expanded North a full octave. I’ve sung first soprano for the past two decades. Broader range led to a breadth of expanded opportunities.

Pushing too hard created false limits. There were new songs to be sung, but I couldn’t hear them.

When we push to perfect who we are, we lose sight of the talents waiting backstage ready to stretch our range.