So, you love Ariana Grande, and would die to sing like her, but…
You think you’ll never get there without her legendary 4-octave range.
Here’s the thing:
Ariana’s range IS fantastic, but she has a whole other bag of tricks you can learn from.
And today I’m going to break down what those tricks are, and what you can do to develop your own Ariana Grande-inspired sound.
But first, what exactly about Ariana’s singing is so impressive?
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What Makes Ariana’s Singing So Awesome?
Practically everywhere you read Ariana’s name, you read about her famous 4-octave vocal range, which is truly impressive…
But there’s more:
Grande understands the importance of dynamics in her singing.
She incorporates hushed and sultry tones near the bottom of her range, glides to a powerful mixed belt, and tops it all off with almost-piercing notes at the top of her range.
Many would-be divas stay safely in the belt zone. It’s comfortable because it sounds powerful and impressive, and you don’t need to worry about the technique required by changing registers. But Grande understands that dynamics make singing interesting.
Listen to her early hit The Way for an excellent example of the variety in her singing:
It’s like a vocal salad:
There are so many different flavours all layered on top of each other! It keeps the audience guessing and engaged.
Ariana brings further interest to her singing through the fluid use of vocal runs.
Vocal runs are the fast-moving melodic lines we most associate with the biggest divas in the business: Aretha, Beyonce, Christina, and Mariah are all experts at this fancy vocal footwork.
Ariana is no exception.
The video below shows a sampling of some of her most impressive runs. She is comfortable with vocal runs in all areas of her range, adding a lot of spice to her sound!
No commentary on the awesomeness of Ariana Grande’s singing would be complete without mentioning her whistle register: the highest register of the human voice.
It takes a lot of skill not only to reach the whistle register, but to make it sound as good as Ariana does.
Singing well in whistle tones is very rare.
In fact, other than Mariah Carey, Ariana Grande is probably the only household name in music who is famous for her whistle tones.
And that, my friends, is what makes her so very awesome.
How You Can Sing Like Ariana Grande
Ariana is best known for her impressive range, so if you are inspired by Ariana’s singing, stretching your range is the place to start.
It is important to get to know your own instrument by learning more about your vocal type.
You may think:
If I want to sound like Ariana Grande, why don’t I just try to imitate exactly what she does?
The first reason is practical:
Your instrument is different than Ariana’s. You may or may not be physically capable of singing the same notes, with the same tone as she does.
The second reason is more emotional:
The world already has an Ariana Grande! The reason she is famous is because she is offering a different sound than other famous names.
Adele, Taylor Swift, and Beyonce all have beautiful voices, but they are all unique. Ariana’s is unique, too. You want to offer the world something unique as well.
So rather than try to sound exactly like her, be inspired by what she does well, and strive to grow those same skills in your own voice, in your own way.
Other than broadening your range, to sing like Ariana you will want to focus on these skills for Ariana-inspired awesomeness:
- Perfect the art of the mixed belt
- Work those vocal runs
- Experiment with whistle tones
Practical Steps to Singing Awesomeness
Acquiring these skills, and strengthening and stretching your range will require daily vocal exercises.
By committing to practice 5-7 days a week, you are not only giving yourself the time to work on these skills, but you will notice your voice getting stronger.
When you’re working these new skills, it can be incredibly helpful to have professional help.
You will stretch yourself vocally working on these skills, and there is always the risk of damaging your voice when you’re in unfamiliar territory.
So, to not only gain these singing skills, but learn to do them safely, consider working with a vocal teacher.
Online singing lessons are a great option for anyone with a busy schedule. (And that’s pretty much everyone, so that means you.)
You’re able to do them from home, so you can belt away and make your first attempt into whistle tones without worrying about the other students in that practice space next to you eavesdropping!
If you want to invest in your awesomeness in this way, click here for more info.
But as you’re waiting impatiently for lessons to begin, here are a few more ideas for Ariana Grande-inspired singing:
Perfect the Art of the Mixed Belt
As I stated above, one of the things that makes Grande so pleasant to listen to is that she is not only singing in chest voice.
Her various placements not only make her singing more interesting, but ensure she is not bringing her chest voice up past where it belongs, which puts strain on the voice.
Instead, she uses a “mixed belt”: a blend of chest and head voice.
To achieve the mixed belt, you’ll need to use forward resonance. Try this “Nasty Nay” exercise to practice.
Remember, you won’t sound as “nasty” in real life as when doing this exercise, but it helps you find that placement!
Work Those Vocal Runs
Pick a short run to begin. If you play piano, plink out the individual notes of the run - if not, just isolate them in your head.
Going slowly, play the notes and sing along, moving a bit faster each time as you gain confidence. Repeat until you match Ariana’s speed!
Experiment with Whistle Tones
Use head resonance:
Remember how we practiced using forward resonance in that Nasty Nay exercise? We’re going to continue experimenting with resonance, only this time using head resonance.
Singing a high note on an “O”, focus on filling up the head space with your sound.
If you place your hand on your chest, you should not feel any vibrations in your chest. All the sound is coming from your head.
Keep Throat Muscles Relaxed
It’s always good to make sure there’s no tension in your throat, but particularly when using whistle tones.
Watch Ariana while she’s singing her whistle tones in Emotions:
Her throat is completely relaxed. She makes it look so easy! If you need help relaxing your tension, try our 5 Minute Warm Up.
“Zip Up” Your Vocal Cords
By this, we don’t mean closing your vocal cords completely, of course! It just means the vibration should only happen in the anterior part of your vocal cords.
It will take some practice to move beyond squeaks to whistle tones.
And remember when you’re trying something new and challenging like this, it’s a great idea to enlist the help of a trained vocal teacher!
Get Ready for Your Singing to “Break Free”!
Sorry, I couldn’t help making a pun off Ariana’s 2014 hit!
By strengthening your range, mixed belt, vocal runs, and experimenting with whistle tones, you will have your own bag of tricks for a sound just as dynamic as Ariana’s.
Now that you know the magic elements that make up Ariana Grande’s sound, you’ll be ready to incorporate them into your own brand of awesomeness!