How do I Know If I’m a Soprano, Mezzo, or Alto?

Question:

“How do I know if I’m a Soprano, Mezzo, or Alto? I feel like my throat is going to explode if I try high notes, because it hurts. That’s why lower notes are easy for me.”

Answer:

This is a tricky one. I’ll give you a few pointers, but without actually hearing you—as in a private Skype lesson—I wouldn’t want to give any specific advice.

First of all (high-fiving you): I was always convinced I was a mezzo. I really wanted to be a mezzo. I think mezzos get the better roles, have more fun, and an easier tessitura. (Btw, what kind of songs/arias are you naturally drawn to?) That being said. I’m a soprano. I just couldn’t sing high notes without hurting, which brings me to you:

  1. Do you have any training? Classical technique? If yes, you will know when you’re singing correctly on the breath, are relaxed, and support well. In that case, if high notes are not effortless at least up to a point, I would then venture to say, it’s possible you are a mezzo or even alto.
  2. When you say “lower notes are easier for me”, do you sing them in chest voice, or in head voice? That’s another clue. Mezzos and altos sing a larger part of their range in chest voice and quite comfortably so. As a soprano, I have to switch out of that really quickly. So: observe next time you sing, how many notes you sing in your chest voice, and where you switch to head voice.
  3. 1) Whenever you sing, whether low or high, whether chest or head voice, do you support well? Do you engage your abdominals and intercostals in a way to support the proper functioning of your diaphragm, so your throat can be open effortlessly? Think “sssss.” ALSO: 2) Do you lift behind the upper molars, as in the famous inner smile, or smelling a rose? This is so, so important, and the reason why I finally could sing high notes. Just lowering the larynx gives you warm tones, and a lower range, but no high notes, as everything is pulling down. You have to make sure you have that lift in the back of your throat, as in the beginning of a yawn. Then high notes are easier, or at least possible.

If you feel you can check off all three points, and are still not clear, then a personal lesson with an experienced voice teacher, ideally a healing voice expert, is the next step.

I wish you great success singing. Figure out what you love to sing, and what your voice will support you singing. Because you are unique, and your soul already knows what that is. It just needs you to make it happen! 🙂

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