Vocal Range: How to Find Yours in 1 Minute (Or Less)!
Can I tell you something crazy?
Finding your vocal range is one of the most important things you can know about yourself as a singer.
That’s because learning your vocal range will help you understand how low or high you can sing.
But that’s not all!
Knowing your range can also help you…
-Find your voice type (bass, tenor, or soprano, for example)
-Learn where your weak spots are
-Measure your progress in voice training and…
-Choose the perfect songs for your voice
So today, I wanted to take a quick moment to discuss how to measure your vocal range and give you a quick exercise to find it fast.
Then we’ll talk about how you can use your vocal range to make smart choices about what songs to perform and what to work on in vocal exercises.
I promise, if you follow these simple steps, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to learn your range and make the most out of it!
Ready to get started? Let’s jump right in.
By the way, if you want to watch a great video that walks you through how to find your vocal range, check this out:
Vocal Range Definition
Most of the time vocal range is written as two notes: the lowest note and the highest note with a dash between them.
So, what is the average singer’s vocal range? As you might know, vocal ranges of singers can vary quite a bit from person to person.
For example, what is the common vocal range for male singers? A pretty common male range is C3-C5. That’s the vocal range of a Tenor.
A common vocal range for female singers is Soprano. Vocal range for Soprano goes from C4 (middle C) to A5.
The letter is the name of one of the note you’re singing (C in this case).
The number next to that letter tells you which octave you’re singing in (the 3rd and 5th octave in this case).
That means a guy who can sing from C3-C5 can go from a C in the 3rd octave (the one below middle C on the piano) to the C in the 5th octave (the one above middle C on the piano).
Those who like science might ask “is vocal range frequency?”. In other words, since all notes are technically frequencies, is vocal range just a measurement of frequency?
The answer is YES. So if it helps you, just think of vocal range as a measurement of your lowest to your highest frequency.
Fun fact: what is the rarest male voice type? That would be countertenor, the highest male voice type with a vocal range of E3-E5. See my post on voice types for more!
Let’s look at another example:
A pretty common range for girls is from A3-A5.
That means a girl who can sing from A3-A5 can go from an A in the 3rd octave (the one right below Middle C) up to the A in the 5th octave.
That’s all there is to it!
Is vocal range genetic?
There are certainly many aspects of vocal range which are genetic, like the size of the vocal folds and the length of your vocal tract.
A lot of students ask me: what is a good vocal range? Is a 3-octave range good?
Well, as you can see, a 3-octave rage will put you well above average for both female and male vocal ranges!
What does a 4 octave range mean?
It means that you can comfortably sing across 4 octaves of vocal range (for example from C3-C7).
Now, let’s discuss the importance of finding your own, unique vocal range.
Why You Should Find Your Vocal Range
So why do you need to know your vocal range?
Well, let’s say that you’re looking for a song to sing.
The first question to ask yourself is: how many octaves can I sing? What vocal range am I?
If you know your range, it will be pretty easy to see if that song would be good for you or if you should do one that’s a bit lower.
Knowing your vocal range can also give you an idea about what singers to listen to for inspiration.
If you have a lower range, you might want to listen to Johnny Cash, rather than Freddie Mercury.
Or if you have a higher range, you might want to listen to Beyonce, rather than Tracy Chapman.
If you’re right in the middle, you might like Billie Eilish.
How many octaves can Billie Eilish sing? Looking at her music, Eilish has a 2.5 octave range from D3-A5.
Vocal Range Heroes
What is the best vocal range out there? Well, some of these famous singers have ridiculously wide ranges.
What was Freddie Mercury’s vocal range? For Mr. Fahrenheit himself, vocal range was a limit to be pushed wherever possible. Freddie Mercury’s vocal range range exceeded 3 octaves.
Likewise, the great Whitney Houston’s vocal range exceeded 3 octaves, from A2 to C#6.
What is Ariana Grande’s vocal range? Her magnificent voice goes from D3 to E7, exceeding 4 octaves.
How many octaves did Michael Jackson have in his prime? As an adult, he could sing 4 octaves plus a step and a half, from Eb2 to F#6.
What about Beyonce’s vocal range? Also over 4 octaves, from A2 to E6.
What was Chris Cornell’s vocal range? His baritone vocal range spanned nearly 4 octaves, from a grungy C2 to a soaring A5.
What about 5-octave ranges? Well, Brendon Urie’s vocal range spans almost 5 octaves, from D2 to C7!
Then there’s the queen herself: Mariah Carey. For Mariah Carey’s vocal range, even 5 octaves wasn’t enough! Her whistle register is a legend unto itself.
But wait! Is there anyone who can sing 6 octaves?
Yes! Mike Patton’s vocal range spans an astonishing 6 octaves!
You might be wondering: who has the most vocal octaves of all? What is the highest vocal range singers have ever achieved? Is there someone out there who can sing 7 octaves or more?
That would be American singer Tim Storms, with a truly mind-boggling 10 octaves of range!
These singers with wide vocal ranges are our heroes; we all strive to be like them.
And the first step in learning to sing like your heroes is to find your own unique vocal range.
So, without further ado, here’s a simple exercise to find your range fast!
Find Your Vocal Range in 1 Minute (Or Less)!
Here’s my favorite exercise for finding your vocal range. It works for guys and girls.
Just make sure that you’re singing from the correct note.
Here’s how you do it:
1. Go to a piano or your guitar and find Middle C.
We’re talking about C4, the C in the middle of the keyboard and the C on the 1st fret of the B string on guitar. Sing the note on an “Ah” vowel.
2. Mark the lowest note you can sing.
Play each note on the instrument moving downward and sing “Ah” on each note until you hit your lowest note.
3. Mark the highest note you can sing.
Finally, find Middle C again and this time, sing upwards on an “Ah” vowel until you’re at your highest note.
4. Write out your vocal range.
Now that you have the lowest and highest notes, write it out like this:
Lowest Note (with octave number) – Highest Note (with octave number)
Here’s an example of what your vocal range might look like:
Ex. C3 – C5.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a piano handy, here’s a video to walk you through the exercise:
Or if you prefer, I have a great vocal range tester app that will help you do this whole process in only 6 seconds:
How Your Vocal Range Can Help You
So let’s talk about how you can apply info about your range to the rest of your singing.
Find Your Voice Type Using Your Vocal Range
One of the biggest benefits of knowing your vocal range is finding your voice type.
That’s because if you know your voice type, you know what you can expect out of your voice.
But what is a voice type and how do you find yours?
Here’s what you need to know:
Voice type is the Italian classification for the kind of voice that you have. Sometimes they’re called “vocal range names.”
Voice types are divided between men and women and go from lowest to highest.
The main voice types for men from lowest to highest are: Bass, Baritone, Tenor and Countertenor.
The main voice types for women from lowest to highest are: Contralto, Alto, Mezzo Soprano and Soprano.
If you’re trans, just use your gender identity to find the right voice type for you.
I’ve written a complete article on how to find your voice type. Check it out for more great info.
But for now, here’s one simple exercise to find your voice type with your vocal range.
Use Your Vocal Range to Find Your Voice Type
Here’s an easy exercise to find your voice type with your vocal range.
Here’s how you do it:
1. Find your vocal range by singing down to your lowest note on the “Ah” vowel. Mark your lowest note.
2. Sing up to your highest note on the “Ah” vowel and mark your highest note.
3. Go to this article and compare your range with the most common voice types.
Whichever voice type is closest to your range is probably your voice type.
When you’re comparing your range to the voice types cheat sheet, try to find the range that’s closest to yours.
And of course, if you still haven’t found your range, you can do that here:
You’ll be amazed at how much better you sing once you know what you can expect out of your voice.
Use Your Vocal Range to Find Trouble Spots in Your Voice
Let’s face it:
Just because your vocal range goes up to a high C doesn’t mean that note sounds good.
You may be yelling your head off to get up to that note. Or you may be in a very breathy falsetto.
So now that you know your vocal range, use that information to find the trouble spots in your voice.
Here’s the bottom line:
Most singers have a trouble spot in their voice.
We call this area the vocal break and you may feel that your voice “cracks” or “flips” when you sing notes in this area.
So as you’re doing the exercise to find your range, take note of where your vocal break is and work on that area a lot.
If you have a vocal break in your voice, Here’s what you need to know:
Vocal breaks tend to happen when you’re singing from the low part of your voice to the high part of your voice.
The vocal crack you hear happens when the vocal cords aren’t vibrating as strongly as you want.
And this happens in some pretty predictable places. So if you’re not sure where your break is, you can make a pretty good guess.
Most men tend to break around an E4.
Most women tend to break around an A4.
Now, I’ve written an article on how to eliminate your vocal break, but for now, here’s a quick exercise you can use to get rid of it.
Eliminate Your Vocal Break With This Exercise
Now that you know what causes your vocal break, here’s a great exercise to help you eliminate it completely.
Here’s how you do it:
1. Say the word “Gee” (as in “Geese”) out loud at a comfortable volume.
2. Next, find a comfortable note at the bottom of your voice (try C3 for guys and G3 for girls) and sing the word “Gee” at a strong volume.
3. Finally, sing an octave and a half scale where you replace each note of the melody with the word “Gee”.
Here’s a cool video where I walk you through the exercise:
As you’re singing across this vocal range scale, try to keep an emphasis on the “G” sound on each “Gee”.
You’ll be amazed at how much better you can sing through your vocal break with this simple singing technique.
Measure Your Progress and Test Vocal Range
Here’s the ugly truth:
Sometimes it’s difficult to know if you’re making progress in your vocal training.
That’s because as a singer, your instrument is inside your body.
And unfortunately, it can be really difficult to know if you’re making progress since you can’t hear yourself the same way other people do.
That’s why it’s so important that you work on ear training in your voice lessons.
Not only will a singing teacher hear what’s wrong, but they’ll also be able to help you fix it.
So whether you’re working with a teacher or want to teach yourself to sing, one great way to track your progress is by measuring your range.
Here’s how to do it:
Before you start vocal training, measure your vocal range with the exercise in the first section. Here it is again:
Then after you’ve been working with a singing program or voice teacher for a while, test your vocal range again.
Has your range expanded?
What about the trouble notes in the middle of your voice? Are those notes getting better as well?
If you answered “no” to both of these questions, you might want to rethink your approach.
As a voice teacher, I’ve seen students who have done YouTube exercises incorrectly for years and made zero progress.
I have lots of great lessons on YouTube, but I’ll be the first to tell you not to stop there.
Don’t make that mistake!
However, you’ll be more likely to know if you’re making progress if you have a before and after picture of your vocal range.
Use Your Vocal Range to Find Similar Singers
Let’s face it:
What’s the point of knowing your vocal range if you’re just doing vocal exercises?
You’re here to be a better singer!
And one of the best ways to improve as a singer is to take inspiration from other great singers.
So, now that you know your vocal range, you can start comparing your voice to singers with a similar range to yours.
The good news is that there’s lot of information on the vocal range of famous singers.
Here’s a cool vocal range chart showing the ranges for different male and female vocalists:
In addition to their ranges, it’s also good to understand each singer’s voice type.
After all, just because Axl Rose’s vocal range includes a Bb6, that doesn’t mean singing the note is totally comfortable for him.
So how do you compare your range to famous singers?
Here’s how you do it:
Compare Your Range with Famous Singers
1. Identify your vocal range using this vocal range calculator.
2. Next, find your voice type by comparing your your vocal range with the ranges for the most common voice types.
3. Look at the famous singers from each vocal category on the cheat sheet and listen to their singing.
Is the tone and weight of their voice similar to yours?
If so, odds are you’ve got a great singer to listen to and imitate.
You won’t believe how much better you sound once you start singing with vocalists who have a similar range and voice type to yours.
Use Your Vocal Range to Pick the Perfect Songs
Let’s be honest:
The whole reason to expand your range is to sing songs better.
And one of the best ways of picking songs for your voice is knowing your vocal range.
Luckily, the internet has made it easier than ever to find the vocal range for songs immediately.
Here’s how you do it:
Pick the Perfect Song for Your Voice in 3 Easy Steps:
1. Use the vocal range finder to identify singers with similar ranges and voice types to yours.
2. Listen to that singer and find some songs of theirs that you really connect with.
3. Finally, look up the vocal range of the song on a sheet music website like musicnotes.com.
You can find the vocal range of the song under the “Quick Details” section.
Here’s the sheet music for Adele’s “Someone Like You”.
You can see that the vocal range for the song is E3-E5.
(Incidentally, what is Adele’s vocal range? It’s B2 to Bb5, just a hair short of 3 octaves.)
So if you think you’re an alto and want to sing this song, you should be able to sing from an E in the 3rd octave up to an E in the 5th octave.
But always remember:
You want those notes to sound comfortable!
There’s no use choosing a song with notes that are outside your comfortable range.
You’ll be amazed at how much your voice improves once you start singing songs that fit your vocal range.
By now, you know your vocal range!
And with that information, you also understand how to use your range to choose songs that fit your voice.
If your range isn’t quite as wide as you want, don’t worry. Almost anyone can expand their vocal range.
Now I want to know what you think!
Leave a comment and let me know your vocal range and any questions you have.
I respond to every message.
If you want a complete singing program to help you expand your vocal range, check out my online singing course Master Your Voice.
And, if you’re even in doubt, don’t forget about the vocal range test app.