Before doing chest voice exercises, it’s important to note that most voices tend to push this area of the chest voice as it’s where we talk.
The heavier voice type you are (for example Bass for the male voice and Contralto for the female voice) then the more lightly you are to push. This is because your voice is stronger in this area.
How to safeguard against a pushy Chest voice?
The best way to safeguard against pushing in the chest voice is to slide down to the note that you want to work on. Another option would be to start with a good onset and keep that connection or start with a light, soft, quiet tone. Alternatively, you could start with vocal fry.
Agility work will also get you there. If you are a heavier voice type, then it’s harder for you to get an agile voice. You must work on getting agility in your voice as the faster you can move through notes the lighter your connection will be on the vocal folds. This will also leave you with a more balanced voice that blends with the higher register easily. You could also use this connection for your spoken voice setting.
Note that although a correctly produced lip trill, tongue trill, hum (or any other semi-ocluded vocal tract vocalize for that matter) will do the job. It is my experience that most singers push these too. So best to use the sugestions above first then when you are confident move onto hums and trills.
When you do chest voice exercises make sure you
Always start chest voice exercises on a comfortable speaking note, and remember to start it lightly. As you work your chest voice correctly expect the feeling and sound to be different from the feeling that you would associate as chest voice. 99% of my students push a little bit so assume you are in this camp and just allow your voice to change. All you need to focus on is a well-executed vocalise with the correct mindset of a released, open throated voice. The rest will happen automatically if you let it!
What note should I start my Chest Voice Exercises?
These are just a rough guide for the nicest place to start for your voice. If you already have a big vocal range (regardless of your voice type then you will probably be able to hit all the high and low notes for both the low and high voice starting notes.
You should still notice that your voice tends to gravitate towards a note that it’s the most happy on. Make a note of this note and always start here if your voice needs a little rehabilitation.
For example I am a tenor voice and I can go down to C2 (which is lower then most of my beginner bass students) but still my voice always gravitates towards D3 as a starting point.
Female Chest Voice Starting notes
Low female voice (Contralto also known as Alto). This is the lowest of the female voices. Start your voice work at around G3. Note that this is the same starting note as the counter tenor. The Alto often has a bigger, darker, fuller, stronger chest voice area than the counter tenors. If you find that you are more comfortable starting at around D3, then you could be a very rare female voice type the female tenor. Then use D3 as your starting note.
Middle female voice (Mezzo-Soprano). Start your chest voice work at B3 or C4 if it’s more comfortable.
High female voice (Soprano). Start your chest voice exercises at C4. If you struggle with the chest voice then start on the lowest note you can comfortably and work on taking it down to cover some chest voice area. If you find that you really have no chest voice at all but hit whistle notes easily there is a high chance that you are the next higher voice. The name for this voice type is a Coloratura Soprano. This voice type often has no chest voice at all, but like all voices you should have all the voice areas covered. By being able to do chest voice notes you will impart a fuller, darker, rounder, warmer tone to your high notes. As if you are not careful can become too bright and piercing.
Male Chest voices starting notes
Low male voice (Bass) start your chest voice exercises on G2 again you may feel happier a little lower. Remember to keep these notes light until you have established your higher notes. Otherwise, you will off balance your voice and lose the lightness that high notes impart on your voice. The bass tone will often sound brittle, hollow and lacking warmth if the higher notes are not established before the lower notes. Don’t worry about the lower notes. A couple of vocal warm ups in this area is all that is needed for it to come bounding back!
If you feel this is a little too high and you end up more around the D2 area chances are you are more a Basso-Profundo. This is the really low male voice! Your spoken voice will be lower than most people you know that’s for sure.
Middle male voice (Baritone) start your chest voice exercises at B2 again play around this area A#2, or even C3 may be best for you.
High male voice (Tenor) The tenor voice should start at D3. If this note is a little hard for you, then start a little higher like E3. But make sure that you work to get your lower notes as this will add warmth and power to your high notes.
There is another voice above this called Countertenor. If you are one of these voices then you will find that your D3 is at the end of your range and often very weak, and a C3 even worse. If this is you, then start around G3. Again like the Tenor work to get the chest voice notes around D3 down to B2 as these will help to fill out your higher notes with a warmer, fuller sound.
All voices are different
Remember that all voices are a little different. So you may find that if you’re a tenor voice for example that you feel better starting at C3, not D3. That is why I have the best job in the world I get the pleasure of unwrapping your unique voice!
All voice types female and male leave the chest voice area at around D#4, E4 and F4 tops. No one should take the chest voice above the F4. In fact, I teach my students to move over into middle voice (I refer to this area via a register name of falsetto register or mixed register but to keep some continuity here I have referred to it as the middle voice) at D#4. Some coaches don’t refer to a middle voice at all and would just call this head voice. No wonder so many singers come to me confused about the voice!
What chest voice exercises should I do?
The chest voice exercise scales are the same exercises that you would do for any part of the voice. The only real difference is that they are in the chest voice area. Also that the lowest notes can sometimes get lost in the throat so make sure to keep them light, bright and forward with good support. The support will also have to increase as you go lower and lower. The sound getting muffled as you go lower is due to lack of glottal compression at the vocal folds in which case a brighter forward tone will sort this out. The other reason is that the back of the tongue pulls back and muffles the sound. If this is the case, then you need to do some tongue exercises and build more back of the tongue awareness.
Here is a list of chest voice exercises that you could do. Start on what every note is best for your voice type from the above list. If you don’t know what voice type you are then that’s cool. If you are female just try starting on the low female note, then the middle and then the high and see which one fits your voice the best and use that.
CHEST VOICE EXERCISE 1
Light m hum on a held note. Start on the suggested note for your voice and lightly hum on it. Do this for one whole breath. Then slowly breathe in through the nose and do it again. When done correctly this will give you a forward tone and as you talk should feel light, clean and balanced.
CHEST VOICE EXERCISE 2
Light m hum sirens. Start on your note and slowly slide up and down only going as high and low as feels comfortable slowly increasing the range as your voice warms up. Over time this range will get bigger as your voice gets stronger.
CHEST VOICE EXERCISE 3
Trill. This is not to be confused with the lip trill. The trill is a vocalize where you move between two notes often an interval apart for example if you are a middle female voice (Mezzo-Soprano) you would start on B3 and C4 moving with accurate intonation (pitch) between the two notes, working on getting this quicker and quicker.
Start with the light hum then ee vowel or oo vowel first then working into an AH vowel. Make sure to keep the brightness on all the vowels.
CHEST VOICE EXERCISE 4
Maj 3rds Scale.This is a nice little pattern of 12321. Work this up and down your range starting again on light m hum then working into vowels starting with ee, oo then ah. You can also do lip trills on this and start to add vowel/constant pairs as well like LooLohLahLehLee.
CHEST VOICE EXERCISE 5
Start to sing small phrases over the voice area that you have just been working on. For example, you could choose a nursery rhyme and just move this up a little every time you sing it (transpose it) until you have reached the top of the chest voice area ( around D#4, E4, F4) and then work all the way back down again. This way the exercise work that you have done in chest voice exercises 1 to 4 will carry through to your singing. If your voice is very tense, this may not last very long. Remember that this is a process and will not last for ever after doing the exercises above once.
You must set up a regular practice routine and stick to it if you want to get results. Remember that you are training your vocal muscles and just like any muscles if you want the best performance from them regular small sessions is the best way to go. Start out with 1×5 minute session a day, and see how your voice feels after that. If the next day it’s fine then increase this to 2×5 minute sessions. Work up to 3×5 minute sessions if you can. Also, you can increase the duration to up to 3×30 minute sessions a day if you really want some vocal gains! I work my voice from around 1×30 minute session and 1×15 minute session with some singing through in there too. I always listen to my voice if one day it doesn’t feel so responsive I notice this and change my vocal workouts accordingly. You should too.
I am a happily married man with a beautiful son called Sam.
I have 3 passions in life, My family, my health, and teaching people to sing. I especially love to help people who feel there is something missing in their singing. If you are interested in finding out more about the lessons I offer then please check out my singing lessons in Southampton page.
Have a great day Dyl 🙂