When students begin learning piano (or guitar, or any instrument for that matter!), there’s a common starting point – learn to identify intervals, types of notes, and so forth. With voice, the path is generally not as clearly laid out. While music theory still applies, students beginning voice lessons have quite likely sung before at some point and have an idea in their head of how their voice sounds – raspy, low, thin, high, mellow, and so forth. In other words, folks generally begin voice lessons with an idea of their own ability. Identifying our conceptions of our own voice is very important for many reasons – it helps us better identify specific aspects we like or dislike about our voice, identify areas we’ve like to improve upon, and gain a deeper awareness and ability to listen to vocal qualities. A great way to begin thinking about your voice is to work with your voice teacher to figure out your vocal range and “type”. Here’s a run-down of how that works:
Everyone has a vocal range – a particular number of notes they can comfortably hit. Over time with practice, our ability to higher or lower notes clearly can increase, which can expand the vocal range a bit. In general everyone falls into a particular voice “type”. This is GREAT info to use when purchasing vocal music – especially for classical or musical theater voice music, look for music meant for your voice type!
The general names used for vocal types are:
Soprano: the higher female voice. Generally from the A or B below middle C to high C.
Alto: the lower female voice. Generally from F below middle C to F on the top line of the treble clef.
Tenor: the higher male voice. Generally from C one octave below middle C to the G above middle C.
Bass: the lower male voice. Generally from the C below the bass clef to middle C.
There are other types as well, including:
Contralto – a low alto voice
Mezzo – “mixed” voice – between alto and soprano ranges
Baritone – between tenor and bass ranges
Do you know your voice type? Work with your voice teacher to gain a better understanding of your own voice, and how we can use proper vocal technique to make your vocal range stronger!