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Learning to accept one's limited upper range, even with lessons/exercises/practice & voice therapy

It seems I've tried enough things with regard to working on my voice, to realize that I have to learn accept that my upper
range is limited. I'm told I could consider vocal fold injection augmentations (discussed near the bottom of this message), but I don't think that such a procedure would be worth the risks.

I had originally taken weekly singing lessons for a year in my late 20s. Back then (before and after I took the lessons) I could get to an E5 or F5 in a disconnected falsetto without strain, if warmed up. At some point, many years later, I discovered my falsetto could only get to around a D 5, but, as the years progressed I can only barely get to a C 5 in disconnected falsetto, but not usually sustain it. My falsetto is less reliable and requires warming up or it flutters/cracks.

In my late 20s & early 30s, as a result of singing lessons, I could get to a B4 or C5 in a connected head voice, but not sustain those notes. Now, I can barely get to a connected A 5 in exercises, and if I attempt to get to an A 5 it can often feel strained, and I can't normally sustain it.

For the past 14 months, I've done the following things to see if I could recover lost upper range:

- I've taken a year of singing lessons with an instructor who is a professional singer, and who definitely understands the technique involving high notes. This singer/teacher has taken lessons with various well known singing instructors. This teacher was very generous with his time and tried all kinds of exercises that he thought might help, but I haven't seen ANY results in terms of regaining the top of my upper range. My limits are the same as when I started the lessons.

- I've worked with two different voice therapists, one of which is a PhD. (still working with the latter one)

- I've seen two different ENTs to rule out damage. One of them said it does appear that I have a mild vocal fold weakness on one side. (This ENT didn't think a vocal fold injection augmentation would help me though, but he isn't one of the ENTs that have the most experience with injections according to my voice therapist)

I'm told that I do sing well when songs are in my range, but it's just that my high notes are limited.
I can only realistically get to a G4 in songs right now, and only if the note doesn't need to sustained, like near the end
of Your Song by Elton John where on the word "hope" there is a G4 on the last chorus. I can sustain a G in exercises but it's too difficult for songs. I mostly only sing up to an F#4 in songs right now, in regular voice/mix. With songs, I can go higher than that in a disconnected falsetto if warmed up. (but when I do that at all, I only sing some oohs in falsetto as an effect to make it interesting)

It also doesn't seem to be the case that putting in extra time (more than, say, an hour, total, per day) on singing does anything to improve my upper range. If anything, that actually seems to have the opposite effect. That probably wasn't the case when I was younger though.

I was told by the voice therapist with a PhD, that I warm up best with songs rather than exercises. I think she is surprised at how well I can sing, as long as songs are in within my range.

Both of the voice therapists said that I could consider vocal fold injection augmentations to "plump up" the folds to get better closure, which may result in easier access of higher notes,, but I don't think it's worth either the hassle or the risks. That would require going to an ENT that has more experience with injections than either of the two ENTs I already went to. If the ENT determines that an injection could help me, they would first inject the folds with something temporary and if there is no improvement it would mean I'm not a candidate for a more permanent injection. If there is an improvement then they could inject the fold(s) with something more permanent.

Again, I don't think injections would be worth the risks, just for high notes. My wife doesn't think going through that would be worth the risks either. Also, I can't find even one singer on the internet who had vocal fold injections and who would be willing to discuss it. If there is any singer online (here or anywhere else) in my situation that got back the top of their upper range via injection augmentations, I'd like to know.

It would be nice to have higher notes, but it seems like I just have to learn to accept that I have a limited upper range, and that exercises/lessons or voice therapy are unlikely result in recovering the top of my upper range (as I've seen no increase in upper range after 14 months with a competent instructor and competent voice therapists).


  • Klaus_TKlaus_T Moderator, 2.0 PRO Posts: 2,359
    edited May 31
    hi there! of course every voice has a limit in the sense that at some point there is a ceiling where it does not get any higher, and yes with age the rate at which we can grow our voice will slow down. and of course you only grow your voice with the right kind of exercise, done correctly. unless you have some kind of severe condition or problem (which i am sure you would have mentioned), i would not say you have to accept any limitations, though. i would say "accepting" would be just another word for "giving in".

    am glad you did not get this operation, i never heard of it and i don't think this would make any sense in your case (again unless you would have a condition where this would be a useful operation).

    the voice is grown by training muscles both in terms of strength and coordination, and building the muscle memory to have consistent results. i don't know which exercises you were doing. if it got worse the more time you put in, likely they are the wrong exercises, or done incorrectly.

    to say that songs are better for warmup than exercises is wrong in my view, and Ken would tell you the same thing. it is just not systematic enough (balance) and in a song there are different factors that distract from the key elements for growth, like learning to coordinate the muscles and building muscle memory. think of it, if you train for a marathon, you don't regularly run the whole 42 km as a training unit, and you would not learn how to bench press 200 kg by pressing 200 kg on day one. you work your way up there. songs are the "event" and scales are the training, where we isolate the hard parts and work on them individually, so as not to overwhelm ourselves (and potentially get heard) by demanding in training what we expect to be the goal of this training in the long run.

    the vocal fold imbalance, can most certainly be balanced with the correct exercises (again, if you checked with a doctor it is not a medical condition).

    if there was anything that needs to be accepted, it would have to be that it does take time and dedicated effort to grow your voice (in all directions, actually, not only upper range). but it is doable.

    and the course is, for me and a lot of others, a proven way to do just that. i remember you posted some threads regarding this whole issue a while ago, where there was the possibility of this being a medical issue and having it checked. it sounds like they never found anything that would keep you from training. and even Ken himself has stepped in and helped answer the question for you. one of the other moderators (Wigs) gave you lots of input on what to work on based on the scales you uploaded (which are not accessible anymore now)

    if i am fully honest with you, i think you are making excuses for not just simply trying the course. you are lucky that you have found the course (because it works), and you seem to be interested in being a good singer, willing to do some shady medical procedures and invest time, money (the lessons with your doctor/singing teacher will cost much more than this course) and risk your health along the way, when you could just simply enter the dojo and do what worked for so many others. i think you need some kind of friendly kick in the ass to just get going, and this is it now: JUST DO IT :)
  • TerenceTerence 3.0 Streaming Posts: 292

    Elton John has been singing his entire back catalogue below a G4 for 30 years.

    I'm guilty of chasing range, too, but don't think the average listener cares as long as you're singing a good song.
  • jaynewsjaynews Member Posts: 28
    Terence, Elton John does sing up to a G4 or Ab4 in some songs, but I agree his range is limited compared to when he was younger. I think his G 4 is still more solid than mine though.

    Klaus, I have not given up on singing or working on my voice, and have worked hard for the past 14 months. I work my voice as high as it will go on the hope that it could eventually go higher but since I'm not seeing any increase in upper range (or recovery of lost range) I have to be realistic. I've taken lessons with a singing instructor that can sing songs like Jane by Jefferson Starship and still performs songs like that live (not just in the studio). He also can sing as low as me, and he has taken lessons himself with many world class instructors.

    I do have an older version of the course on an older computer that I'm willing to revisit after I'm finished working with the speech therapist who is also giving me some singing exercises. At this point I have no reason to believe anyone's course (no matter how well it works for others) is going to be the answer to solving my specific issue with limited range, but I'm certainly willing to revisit Ken's exercises again.

    I would also consider trying a different vocal instructor who charges $150 or less per hour. (even though $150 is still expensive) I would have considered Zoom lessons with, Ken, but he charges $525 per hour so that's not really a practical option. If there's anyone else you should happen to recommend in a reasonable price range, let me know.

    My voice is definitely physically different than it was when I was younger, because my disconnected falsetto was easy up to an E5 or F5 (even before lessons) in my late 20s (and my falsetto was the same after lessons). However, over the years the top of my falsetto range decreased, and my disconnected falsetto only goes up to B4 (or C5 on good days) and it's less reliable. When I get to the top of either my falsetto or regular connected head voice it feels like the vocal folds just don't want to stretch any further than that. Whatever occurred to limit the top of my falsetto is also limiting the top of my connected head voice as well. I can get to an A4 in an exercise, mainly on an ooh vowel (but not necessarily sustain it) on a good day.

    I haven't given up, but I have to be realistic and accept that my range is limited (short of a miracle eventually occurring, or taking the chance on potentially risky vocal fold injections)
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