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High School Tenors

Hello all!
 
I'm a high school and I'm most certainly a tenor, however I wonder if I'm falling short. My range is about from the C below middle C to the G above middle C in chest voice, higher and lower in certain situations. I've heard it said that a tenor is supposed to have a range stretching up to high C, which is possible, personally, in mix voice, but it's not very nice in a choral setting or as a solo in musical theatre. I also see that there are sopranos who easily extend their range up high above their high C and I wondered if I'm doing something wrong or if my range is acceptable for high school.
 
Thank you!
 
Mitchell
on January 6, 2015 3:08am
Mitchell, that's a perfectly fine range for someone who's still in high school. Don't try to compete with sopranos! Forcing your chest voice too high can damage it.
 
You may find you're more of a light baritone than a tenor eventually as your range expands, but if your choir director is programming a lot of work with top As for a high school choir then they need to reconsider - recently changed voices shouldn't be doing much above top G. Even adult choral tenors shouldn't be asked to do anything above top A in chest voice, ideally staying at G or below most of the time. I only write top As for tenors if they can be made optional, or are for first tenors or a soloist only.
on January 6, 2015 6:54am
Mitchell: Here's my $.02 - just be patient. Your voice will change even more in the next few years and it could go higher or lower. Most of the [HS] choral literature you're probably singing doesnt get above G.  Getting up to a high C as you described will most often only be found in operatic literature and even for solo voice for the few rare tenors who might be able to manage that without fainting.  If you are not taking voice lessons, it might be something to consider. I suggest you find a male voice teacher, preferably someone who teaches voice at a nearby college. Finally, speaking as a fellow tenor, please avoid any comparisons to sopranos...it offends them as well as us.
Applauded by an audience of 3
on January 7, 2015 6:40am
Mitchell, 
I sincerely agree with Robert in that it will be good for you to find a quality voice teacher.  Try to find someone who is well-recommended by people who are active in various styles- classic first, as those teachers usually have the best physical training- and also Broadway, Jazz and Pop, if you wish to sing those styles.  
Be aware of any teachers/ techniques who give you advice that involves tension.  It is never necessary for a singer to have tension, except to energize the diaphragm/abdominal muscles ...  But those muscles still need to be free to move.   So that is "strengthening" , not tightening in a debilitating sense.  (The healthy,  gentle pressure that is a sensation of higher head-tone resonance - referred to by Barbara Harlow in the book, "You, the Singer" as the " resonance ache” - is the only other possible exception.  But that's not really tension either - it is simply a sensation that may feel unusual. )
 
There are a lot of myths that are perpetuated about singing.  Try to get information from truly honest-and-kind experts.  Remember that each singer, including teacher-directors, is an individual: possesing individual facial structure, body, understanding of technique, personal experience with singing, commitments to practice, type of sound desired, etc.  All this will likely affect what people tell you.  Ask your heart: "Are they spouting off as a self-proclaimed expert, or do they have good  voice-education background, and my [your] best interest at heart?"
In general, if you learn good abdominal breathing support, keep your shoulders, neck, and jaw tension-free, let your air rise toward your cheekbones, and develop good musicianship, you should be fine.  For life ! :)   If you practice daily [or at least several times a week] without straining or pushing,  your range may stay as it is (which is truly fine) or it may expand - in both directions.  Still, we are all human, and we hear ourselves between our ears - not as others hear us.  So it is good to find a teacher to guide you in thses endeavors.
Best Wishes, 
Lucy
(I have spent several years as a professional singer in several styles, a H. S. Choral Director, and a voice teacher for individuals.   Feel free to contact me if you ever find yourself in Atlanta/N. Georgia.) 
 
Applauded by an audience of 1
on January 7, 2015 7:04am
Mitchell - Lucy wrote something very important in her post which could get lost in the rest of it - "For life!"  THAT'S the whole point of all of this, to develop not only an interest in song that will last with you for the whole of however long you're here on God's green Earth, but also to be able to continue to enjoy singing for the whole of that life.  My father, who pased away at 85, literally died singing - it was what he was doing when he died.  He had a light, lyric tenor, which he took care of all of his life - and he started singing in church at age 5.  That is the entire point of learning to sing - to have a life-long ability to express something far more than words alone or instrumental music alone can do - that is the gift a singer brings to the world.  The advice you've been given, on a practical level, is wonderful and I endorse heartily what they've written.  But keep in mind that this is something (I imagine) you'd like to do forever.  So when you act on the advice, keep the idea that this is "forever" firmly in mind - and let that guide your choices.
 
Ron
on January 7, 2015 10:26am
Hi Mitchell:
 
Take it easy on your voice. Don't push. If you're interested in classical singing, avoid singing pop music or in musicals, both of which can require you to push in the upper middle register i.e. from d to f#. Doing that disbalances the voice. I didn't really figure out my top until I'd essentially stopped pursuing a solo operatic career and was in my thirties. I had, by them, sung principal roles in school productions (for example, at  Banff) and sang for years as a professional chorister with a major opera company, so I know of what I speak. Unfortuntately, the world of singing teachers is full of charlatans and coach-accompanists who have never sung seriously themselves but have played at lots of lessons and imitate the methods and techniques of the teachers they've heard there without ever having had the physical experience of singing the exercises themselves. If you're looking for a teacher, find a tenor at at university or college who actually had a performing career and has had considerable experience teaching. It's even better if you can hear some of his students.  At the end of the day, it's all about balance in the voice and registration. 
 
I wish you lots of luck.
 
David Fawcett
on January 7, 2015 4:51pm
You sound like you're doing fine--in fact PERFECTLY NORMALLY.  Don't push your chest voice beyond where it is willing to go.  Study with a teacher who will teach you good solid technique that you can use all your life, and your voice will find its "comfort zone" as you mature.  Beware of hurrying to make a bigger, more impressive sound--especially if there is discomfort involved!  And--speaking as a tenor and a voice teacher--head voice is a perfectly good way to hit a high note, especially in a choral setting!  If you come to associate the top of your voice with a sensation of strain and difficulty, you'll only cause trouble that you'll have to spend time fixing later.  Better to sing easily now and wait for the voice to grow on its own.  
Applauded by an audience of 2
on January 19, 2015 9:06am
Thank you everyone for your advice! I am taking lessons with a voice teacher now and I'm learning proper technique. I appreciate all of your advice at a practical and emotional level and will take what you have said to heart!
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