Many talented individuals have lovely voices with beautiful tones – they’re able to sing notes across a wide variety of styles. They may have spent many, many hours refining their falsetto, or perhaps have dedicated their time to extending their natural vocal range. However, these same singers sometimes struggle with learning how to sing low notes. How does a singer train their vocal chords to do something that comes naturally and easily to others? Singing lower sometimes seems like an impossibility as your voice can only do what it can do, right?
Read on and discover exciting facts about your singing voice, the importance of vocal training for singing, where low notes come from, proper techniques for singing them, and low note singing exercises that will get you to master these notes.
Interesting Facts about Your Singing Voice
Did you know that people with no extraordinary ability can sing two and a half octaves without straining their voice? Not one talented singer came to earth a perfect singer; in fact, good singers become excellent singers with practice, specific singing exercises, and perseverance. Anyone can sing well just like great singers can, but it oftentimes takes years to reach their level. After all, research indicates that most ‘bad’ singers can discern musical notes and have vocal ranges similar to talented artists we hear every day, they just haven’t unlocked much of the power of their voice!
Every person on earth has the same muscles needed to sing: the strengths of our necks, jaws, lips, and tongues collaborate for us to sing or even speak. Over 100 muscles in our bodies work collectively to help us sing and speak. Even though we all have the same muscles to sing and speak, every individual makes unique sounds due to the shape and size of their vocal chords and the form and size of a person’s overall body.
We all have two sets of muscles controlling our vocal chords, one in front and one in back. These muscles play like zippers by opening and closing the vocal chords to make a specific pitch. But training can help any singer who veers from their optimum pitch. In fact, training can do a lot more than that–like help those who struggle with singing lower. Let’s delve deeper.
The Importance of Vocal Training for Singing
Why does a singer need vocal training if they already know how to sing well? Aren’t vocal training lessons just for “bad singers”? Actually, all singers should have vocal training, and here is a list of ten reasons why.
- Help you reach your full potential as a singer.
- Teach you techniques and exercises for your significant development of vocals.
- Guide you on how to stay in key.
- Instruct you on managing, controlling, and balancing the effect nerves have on your vocal chords.
- Teach you breath control (more on this from my breathing exercises article).
- Build your confidence.
- Teach you how to maintain vocal health and reduce unneeded strain.
- Assist you in developing your singing style through intuition of your vocal type.
- Prepare you for public speaking.
- Teach you how to increase your range (and that includes singing lower notes as well as higher notes).
So what techniques and exercises can a singer do to help them sing lower? To understand techniques for singing low notes, singers must first understand where these notes come from.
Where do Low Notes Come From?
While I could try to be funny and say low notes come from when your parents were in school and passed notes under their desks, I won’t bore you with my attempt at humor… So let’s move on to get to the information you really came here for.
Really, these notes come from thicker strings tightening and releasing. In your voice, these are your vocal chords becoming thicker and girthier, and when these chords and folds vibrate they do so slower than they do during other notes – this is what creates the lower sound. When you play the sixth string (low E) on guitar, notice how much thicker it is than other notes. When you play the sixth string, it vibrates much, much slower than the first string – as such it produces a much lower sound or note. This same principle applies to your voice!
Consider Next: The Art of Vibrato Voice
A Singer’s Number One Mistake When Singing Lower
When attempting to sing lower, singers want to drop their larynx.
While I don’t mean they get so frustrated with singing lower, they rip out their larynx and drop it on the ground to sacrifice it to the gods of song; instead, singers will try to sing low notes by pushing their whole larynx down towards their windpipe. Your Larynx is an organ in your throat in which all of your vocal sounds originate (your chords are located here). Intuitively you may try to lower your larynx to reach these lower notes, but in actuality you want to attempt to keep it in a static, neutral position and avoid pushing it lower or higher than need be. Balance is key here for the larynx to produce optimal sounds.
Proper Techniques for Singing Lower Notes
Before you begin, first work with a vocal coach or singing instructor to determine your vocal range, also known as your tessitura. Understanding the limits of your voice is a crucial first step to avoid injury and only focus on improvements.
Next, take a few moments to relax, and don’t forget to pay close attention to your larynx.
Once you feel ready, you can begin to implement the following techniques for singing lower:
Use the following physical techniques to help you master singing lower.
- Breathe into your ribs and not just your abdomen.
- Open your throat. Try your hand at something like Mongolian throat singing for practice.
- Drop your jaw.
- Keep your tongue down.
- Keep your chest up.
- Stop singing with a lot of “H’s.”
- Rely on breath support.
- Check your posture.
- Use your face resonance.
- Practice low growling.
Check the song key.
Make sure the song you sing does not fall too low for your range. Not everyone can hit the lowest of notes!
Bring the microphone closer
Once you pull your microphone away for a high note, the next thing you know is you’re face-to-face with a low note. But as long as your sound is clear and it resonates in your face, your microphone is going to love it, amplifying the sound. However, if the sound is airy, it will NOT be able to amplify it. So, after following all the physical techniques above, check to see where your mic is at.
Always warm-up your range.
As warm-ups are not only especially crucial for intermediate and professional singers, but they are efficient and useful as well. Ensure you have a vocal plan from your instructor or online singing course(s), complete your vocal warm-ups, do your exercises, learn to know your voice, and sing daily.
Improve the clarity of your low range.
While it’s perfectly normal for your low notes not to have as much punch as your high notes, remember that while going for this low range, the fold in your voice become truncated yet relaxed, which allows for air to pass between the folds easier. This results in a slippery slope where you can easily go out of tune, have a non-ideal tone, and a non-timbered sound. That’s why it’s essential to train yourself to have a more precise sound. Exercises can help with this.
Exercises to Hit These Notes
Let’s get into the specific exercises you should be doing to train your voice to be able to hit the low notes perfectly every time.
1. Speak the Low Notes
Try to speak the notes on pitch. Get it to the point that you can comfortably isolate your voice and hit each note by itself. This will be key for stringing them together in your actual singing.
2. Observe and Study Your Larynx
Watch your larynx in the mirror, or gently feel it by pressing your thumb and pointer finger just past your chin, up against your neck. Remember to keep your larynx balanced – don’t raise it or lower it too much when singing.
3. Descending 5-Tone “EE”
Start from the 5th of the major scale, and sing with the long “ee” vowel in your speaking voice. Move your way down to the one by singing “ee” for every note. Do this multiple times in a row.
4. Descending 5-Tone “OOH”
Do the same thing as the last exercise, but replace the “EE” with “OOH.”
5. Practice Singing Songs with Low Notes
You will be able to sing these notes better by narrowing the vowels, so when you pick a song with low notes in it, identify the low notes you’re having trouble with and determine what vowel sounds get used on those notes. Then, replace the open vowels with the vowel that’s closest to it but a bit narrower; this will make the low notes more comfortable to sing at low pitches.
6. Glottal Stop
A glottal stop is when your vocal cords join and stop your breath from escaping. To do a glottal stop, close your vocal cords while trying to get your voice out simultaneously. In other words, say “uh-oh” with a pause, and this will give you a glottal stop.
You have just learned and discovered interesting facts about your singing voice, the importance of vocal training for singing, where low notes come from, proper techniques for singing low notes, and low singing exercises to practice daily. Using and implementing the above information, you will be sure to conquer the art of singing lower and become a master and a pro for singing low notes! So keep on singing!
James is an ex-writer for Music Grotto who focused the majority of his writing on the musical skill development content on the publication. His 20+ year career as a singing and vocal coach provided insightful content for the website, and his continued thirst for development in guitar and piano playing helped create some excellent skill development content for the publication.