I tend to go to jams with other musicians and sing (improvise).

On such events musicians often play blues/rock on quite low-pitch scales, which is a difficult place for me being a mezzosoprane voice.

Besides of course asking the musicians to play higher, how can I practice harmonizing with low scales with my high-pitched voice? Is best practice trying to sing an octave or a third higher? And if so, what exercices are best to practice this?

  • Hm, you're on the right track, and any other answer is a bit too broad to say. Free improv is just about as little constraint on what you may sing as possible! I feel like the best advice is "Just concentrate on staying in your comfortable range, and if you don't like the way your note fits with the chord, look for one nearby." I feel like any more detailed advice about harmonizing is just going to get bogged down in overthinking. Commented Mar 22 at 16:28
  • Okay, thank you! Any tips on specific exercises for 'staying within my comfortable range', but also making sure that I harmonize with the others? I think staying on the notes might be the most difficult, as during singing I just tend to go lower, to 'fit better'.
    – Sara
    Commented Mar 22 at 16:46
  • 2
    Sounds like maybe the skill you're looking for is not how to decide which note to sing, but how to stay in your range in the first place, and to avoid being thrown off by lower instruments. I still think the best advice is "just experiment, you'll get the hang of it," but I'll try to give a more detailed answer. The short version is "Play a low note on piano, and treat it as the root of a chord. Then also play chord members that are in your range and sing along with them. When you're ready, do it without playing the upper notes." Commented Mar 22 at 18:53

2 Answers 2


I agree, this can be a nuisance. A jazz singer (hopefully) interprets the melody pretty straight for at least one chorus - let the audience know WHAT you're improvising on before going wild! You lose this option when the key is too low for you to sing it 'right'.

But there WILL be good improvisations or harmonizations that lie in a different range to the melody. You just have to find them straight off, without the option of dropping back onto the tune while you think of something to do! Ever sung a descant to a hymn tune? Think that way perhaps!

  • Yes, "descant to a hymn tune" is a less intimidating picture. :) Commented Mar 24 at 17:08

This is a difficult one to answer, without listening. But, bottom line is, there will be some songs that you'll just have to sit out on. I have the same problem with one band, the song Teach Your Children Well. There's a harmony I used to sing, but the band insists on playing in key D, I can only reach that particular relevant harmony in key C. So, two choices, leave out the song, or leave out my harmony. But I digress (sympathising with you).

A couple of possible solutions. Get them to play in more suitable keys - after all, they wouldn't be happy playing in a key that didn't suit them! Point out that E♭ might be a good key, but you could join in in E instead of D, for example.

Depending on your range and the song's tessitura, sing up an octave.

Choose another harmony - sometimes just not a good option though.

In any case, do what all vocalists should know, and that's you own vocal range - your comfortable highest and lowest notes, within reason. It should be at least an octave and a half, to two and more. Then work on how that range fits into the keys of the specific songs involved. That will give all of you some common ground. Might need a bit of rehearsal time, but would be a good part of a learning curve for all of you. Good luck!

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