Vocal range limitations with tonal numbers

I’ve been practicing with Sing The Numbers 1 and just started on Ear Training for Musical Creativity.

One problem I have is that my vocal range does okay for tonal numbers 1 to 5, 6 is a strain, and 7 and the next octave don’t really work too well. And that’s on a good day. :smiley:

  1. If I can’t sing beyond a certain tonal number, is the ability to develop IFR at those higher tones more limited in some way?

  2. What can be done to improve my ability at those higher tones?


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Have you tried dropping an octave when necessary?

Do you know what your “natural” note is, i.e. what come out if do something like “ahhhhhhh” (or I’ve seen suggestions for things like"My name is [your name]").

Mine “natural” note is graduallly getting lower. When I first checked (around 5 years ago) it was typically C3 or C#3 , but gradually it’s dropped to B2 (which back then was the lowest note I could manage clearly!). I’ve always found it far easier to go up (I could reach E4 from the start) than down. I’d say that the biggest effect on extending my range & comfort has been regular Sing the Numbers. A thing I added much more recently (within the last year) has been to start each StN/FtN session singing tones of my choice to a drone track. I pick a different drone each day, and from that ‘1’ I stick around 1 2 3 for a while, then extend up and down from there gradually expanding to the comfort limit (NOT beyond).
These exercises have not much increased my top end much (though I can now manage G4 on a good day), but have made it more comfortable & steady. Going down I can usually manage F2, often F#2 and on a good day even G2.

Edit to add: When singing to a drone I use an electronic tuner to check the accuracy of my numbers. It still gives me a buzz when I start the track, listen, sing ‘1’ and see that it’s correct. :smiley:

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PS. I’m sure you are aware that “7 and the next octave” vary quite a lot across the tracks. Have you seen my summary of the StN & FtN tracks?

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I think as long as you are thinking and feeling the pitches that are outside of your singing range, you are still benefitting from the practice, even if you can’t produce them yourself.

I’ve heard other people have tried singing in a lower octave over the tracks, if it’s too high. Also, you could experiment with pitch adjusting software, but you’d probably lose some sound quality in the process.

I just tried this… my “ahhhhhhh” sound registers as a C3.
I just try to match whatever I’m hearing in the StN with my voice comfortably but not at the higher pitch Mireia is singing at (I couldn’t even if I tried!). I was at first concerned about whether my male voice could work with the StN recordings. But somehow intuitively, I’m able to follow it.
Don’t think I could lower by a whole octave from where I’m at though.
Thanks much for the ideas!

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Great summary!

Makes sense, I’ll try to focus on this when it’s beyond my vocal range. Thanks!

Same here. I’m sure that’s the intention (I’m pretty sure it says that somewhere in teh course materials?)

Nor me. I was more thinking that maybe if you can’t continue in the same octave, then consider switching octaves at the point of difficulty? I’m not sure how well that would work, but it might be worth an experiment?

Anothert thing that occurs to me is that if you’ve

then at the recommended pace (i.e. the pace of the Workshop) even ‘5’ is several weeks away and octave ‘1’ doesn’t appear till Week 10.

Maybe if you take things slow & steady your vocal range will have time to “grow into” the exercises?

I’ve done the workshop several times & when I did I preceeded through all the weeks along with the rest of the group in real time, even though first time through FtN was a big challenge for me right from week 1 (i.e. just 1, 2 & 3). Each time the workshop finished I’d drop back to my zone of competance in my own practice and only move forward a little once I was pretty much fully confident at that level. I think it was around 3 years before I started to include even the StN side of week 10 in my routines let along the FtN!

I tend to think of Week 10 as being in 2 parts, 10a the octave tracks & 10b the one & a half octave tracks (StN 21, 22 & 23). I’ve only just got to the point of including 10b in my ear training playlsts. :wink:

Agreed. Hoping it will.
Also, I had already been using StN1 for over a month now so had already tried singing up to 5, and transcribing several song segments.
In week 1 of the Ear Training for Musical Creativity course, the example song exercise has a melody with notes 1, 2, 3 only but in two octaves. Trying to sing the song’s melody in numbers was challenging in the higher octave.

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@rcguitar1 Tom Petty IIRC? I was more thinking of the regular exercises.
PS. Have you seen that @Paul prepared ‘FtN’ versions of the StN tracks? If not see here.
I think that on the whole, especially as you get further through, the “StN as FtN” tracks are at least a bit harder than the ‘real’ FtN tracks - I presume that’s because the sequences were designed to be ‘prompted’, whereas the ‘real’ FtN sequences were intended to be used that way?

I’ve only just started adding them to my exercise playlists now because I’ve got so familiar with the original FtNs!

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Thanks for the mention @DavidW
I’ve actually expanded the FTN tracks I made for myself since last posting about them.

Ive been doing the STN/FTN exercises every day (1/2-1hr) and I finally feel like I am just about there in terms of being able to recognize all the notes from the STN course sequences. I think the FTN files have been a big help in getting there.

Once I’d done the STN exercises, I thought that the FTN would be relatively easy - I was wrong.
When first using the FTN tracks, it was like starting from scratch again. It is obviously a completely different skill set and totally separate from being able to verbalize the numbers rather than identify them.

This is an outline of how I use the STN and the FTN files I created, to ingrain the note sounds in my brain!:

  • Use the STN exercises as intended. I did one module at a time, doing all the exercises sequentially within each module, until I could do them without mistakes on repeated tries.
    I’d then move on to the next module.

  • Use the STN files again from the start, but with subtitles added to a video of the “landscape” showing the number sequence before Mireia sings them and then check my accuracy on hearing it back.

  • I then moved on to FTN (piano) versions, where subtitles were added to show the correct answer after the sequence plays - and as with DavidW, I found this really hard when I first started.
    After doing the sequences so many times, I felt I was getting too familiar with them and had memorized many of them. So, I created the same exercises but with the order randomized (FTN ALT).
    As with the STN, I did one module at a time, and once I could recognize all the modules, I went back and did all the exercises from start to finish (over a couple of practice sessions).

The final routine I have been using, is to go through all the STN files and take out every unique sequence (no repeats) for each exercise and combine them all into one.
One for exercises 1-13 (which I’m currently working through) and one for exercise 14-22 (to be created shortly).

I then have a FTN file for each in all the tempos and keys that the STN files use:

80bpm in the key of A (27m)
80bpm in the key of D# (27m)
90bpm in the key of G# (24m)
100bpm in the key of A# (22m)
100bpm in the key of C# (22m)
105bpm in the key of D (21m)
110bpm in the key of C (20m)
120bpm in the key of B (18m)

This works great to do a complete refresh of all the exercises, starting slowly and gradually speeding up.

I also created one experimental FTN using a Bass guitar VST rather than piano so that I could practice listening for bass tones - 90bpm in the key of C (24m).

All the FTN files now have the subtitles encoded into the video itself, so no special software required to play them. I also made them so that I could take them with me where ever I go with the subs text large to be visible on a phone.

I hope the rundown of my practice regime gives folks some more ideas on how to expand practicing using the STN files.

As with the previous post I made, I’d be happy to provide any of the files I have created (as long as you have already purchased STN 1 of course).
Anyone interested, just send me a DM.


It’s the Tom Petty song “Free Fallin”.
Thanks for pointing to @Paul’s tracks. I’m going to check into that.


@Paul that’s impressive.

I found StN really easy, but FtN! So I totally agree FtN is different skills, and much harder, even though we sing the numbers for the pitches in the StN tracks. I also felt I was memorising rather than recognising.

I vaguely concidered an app made by sampling Maria 's playing and playing randem sequences over a backing track. But that’s very hard to make musical so decided against it. Your approach is much easier.

I’m waiting to see what happens in the workshop with FtN.

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Thanks @steve

I really think having an alternative version with a different order helped a lot.
It forces you to really listen rather than rely on memory.
I have no doubt that even when you are doing it from memory, it is getting into your head, I just think it takes a bit longer?

I did consider the new workshop too, but I’ve decided to just keep going with the STN/FTN files for the time being.

Good luck with the workshop!

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I think that’s pretty much inevitable? It’s approaching 4 years since the first workshop and I must have been through the tracks many 100’s of times. However, I don’t see that as a total problem, it just subtly changes the way in which they are useful at those parts, i.e. if I know I’m expecting 1’ 5 3 6 5 I can choose to

a). Listen and check that the tones match my anticipation.
b) Sing with (i.e. at the same time as) the piano and check that my tones match.

A thing I’ve just recently started doing is mixing @Paul 's “StN as FtN” versions into my playlists so that, for example, on some occasions I will be presented with FtN23 but on others I’ll hear Paul’s voiceless version of StN20.

That helps because while the FtN and its StN equivalent are certainly similar they are not the same. Through the track there will be examples of the same sequences in both versions[1], but not in the same order.

When that starts to loose its effectiveness it sounds as though there is even more scope for variation in Paul’s newer material. :smiley:

Me too!. I’m sort of hoping that as well as adding Paul Bourque to theWorkshop team there may possibly be some extra tracks too? :slight_smile:

[1] Which is not at all surprising, since both StN & FtN aim to be ‘musical’ and so they tend towards the sort of musically sensible (conventional?) sequeces that are found in ‘normal’ tunes.

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