The beginning of this video starts with Reba saying that even people who can’t sing can be successful singers with the right hit. It’s funny, true, and sort of sad all at the same time. I mean, I guess it’s not “sad” if you’re the famous singer who can’t sing, but it’s sad for those with the talent who can’t make it.
Think about how true that is, though. How many incredible vocalists have been on singing competitions, only to release a garbage album and we never hear from them again? The SONG is what matters!
Reba says she used to have a three-octave range, but doesn’t anymore because she isn’t singing as much anymore. When she worked and toured often, her range was three octaves. This is important – the more you sing, the better your range will be!
Reba McEntire’s Vocal Tips
Warm Up, Always!
She compares warming up to stretching before running a race. You couldn’t just run out the door and go without a warmup or stretch, so you should also warm up your voice.
McEntire warms up in the shower or in any humidity (which she says is most days in Nashville, and I concur). She shows different ways of placing your voice to make warmups easier.
She also recommends singing before you go into a studio to record, to “open your voice more.” She says some artists don’t warm up at all before they sing, but she has to and you probably should. Even if it’s a quick exercise to just get your vocals loose, it’s better than nothing. I always think of the voice as putty. When you first take putty out of the case, it’s hard and doesn’t really stretch or move. You have to warm it up, get it loose and pliable, and then you can do what you want with it. Your voice is similar. If you try to hit certain notes without being warmed up, your voice will not have an easy time reaching them.
Lip Trills will help your breath support. Here is a video to show you what those are. I always start my warmups with those. Walking and running will help your breathing (McEntire walks the mall in Vegas, and mentions another singer who runs on a treadmill). In Christina Aguilera’s Masterclass, she recommended yoga for breathing. Reba recommends cardio. Yoga is definitely more of my speed, but I should probably attempt to do some cardio once or twice in my life.
Your Voice is a Muscle
Reba says you should vocalize every day. Sing a song every day. However, don’t abuse it. Don’t speak loud (or “holler”), don’t sing without warming up. Don’t speak a lot in environments where you have to strain, like a loud bar or venue. She recommends coconut water and eating grapes to stay hydrated. I’ve never heard of the grapes thing but that’s a cool tip!
Practice to Build Your Range
She compares expanding your range to stretching your body. If you can’t bend down to touch your toes, keep at it. Tomorrow you might be able to touch them a little better. The next week you’ll be able to put your hands flat on the floor.
She also emphasizes that you can only grow your range to what you’re capable of, meaning, if you’re not a high soprano, you won’t be able to add those high notes regardless.
Reba says her mom was “a stickler” about enunciation. She would have hated Ariana Grande, amirite? She does have a point though, especially if the song is telling a story. You want the audience to hear the lyrics, and unless you have a mind-blowing voice like Ariana, you’ll have to make sure people can understand you. Country artists aren’t really known for their enunciation as far as I’m aware, but it was interesting to hear Reba’s take on it nonetheless.
McEntire used to work at rodeos and she’s allergic to dust. She would lose her voice when she would sing in music class, so she figured it was “God’s way of telling her to quit rodeo-in’ and get to singin”
I also think it may be God’s way of CANCELLING THE DAMN RODEO BECAUSE IT’S CRUEL TO ANIMALS, but let’s stick to the topic.
Smoke, dust, dirt and dryness are all bad for your voice. There are singers who actually smoke, but I don’t recommend this.
Touching Hearts vs Talent
She says a great vocalist with a six-octave range can’t beat an off-key person who can touch your heart. Someone who can make you FEEL the words and experience the song is better in Reba’s opinion than someone with a great voice. I think we can all agree, no? I mean, ideally you’d be able to touch someone’s heart and also hit the correct notes, but if you happen to have an off night and give it your best, the audience will remember the way you made them feel.
The TL;DR of this lesson is that as long as you take care of your voice, work hard and emote, you don’t need to be the greatest singer to be successful.
Just like the Christina Aguilera class, this lesson came with the vocal range finder. I’m happy to say that sine taking the Xtina course, I have gained a few upper and lower notes to my range! I’m sick right now too so I’m excited about my progress. This is all just from working at it! The range finder is a helpful tool and you also get a custom warmup based on what you can do! MasterClass really is helpful in that way.
Here is my video for this week’s lesson:
And with that, it’s time for my affiliate plugs!
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