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Hard Songs to Sing: Never Enough, from The Greatest Showman

Hard Songs to Sing: Never Enough, from The Greatest Showman

A couple months ago, we put together a Hard Songs to Sing tutorial on A Million Dreams, from The Greatest Showman. Since then, other Greatest Showman songs have spiked in popularity as well–in particular, the very challenging “Never Enough.” Not only does “Never Enough” take a considerable range and incredible endurance to conquer, but to sing it the way Loren Allred does, you need to be able to shift comfortably between a head-mix and a belt throughout the song.

Why Is This Song Hard

The Low Note is Low!

Eb3 (that is, the Eb below middle C) is too low for many women.

The Chorus is a Piece of Work

Ideally, you should be able to master the chorus in both a head-mix and a belt so that the song builds. This won’t be possible for all voices to do safely right off the bat, but it’s a great goal.

The Sustained Eb5 on Enough

No way around it. That sustained high note that happens at about 1.50 of the video, is just flat-out tough, especially if you’re going for a belt.

The Buildup to the High Me

“EE” isn’t a particularly easy vowel to sing high notes on, regardless of whether they’re in head voice or belted. So it’s no surprise that the buildup at 3.06 trips people up.

Instant Gratification

When in Doubt, Modify

There’s way more you can do to extend your high range than your low range. Low notes require a certain amount of vocal fold thickness that, frankly, is just not possible past a certain point for women (and men) with smaller vocal folds. If you’re close to grabbing that Eb3 on the words way and now, it might be worth working on. Not pushing into the note will help, along with lowering your larynx by gently sighing into the words.

If those notes are out of reach for you, no worries! Just keep way and now on the Ab. In other words, way can stay on the same note as this, and now can stay on the same note as the “er” in louder. Listen to the sound example for clarification.

Use Vowels to Your Advantage

Head-mix vowels tend to be a little different than belt-mix vowels. “EE” tends to help facilitate heady sounds, so when you first go up to that take in “take my hand,” try lingering on the “EE” part of vowel.

When you get to the section where you start belting never in the chorus (or even if you just want to stick with a head-mix), try the following: Keep the “eh” vowel with the back of your tongue, but say “naver” (with an “a” as in cat) with the front of your tongue. The “eh” will keep your soft palate lifted and will help create more space in your mouth, while the “a” at the front of your mouth will brighten the word and make it easier to belt or get some twang out of.

When you get to the “enough” that gets sustained on the Db5 at 2.35, open the vowel into the twangiest “ah” (as in hot) that you can muster. In fact, it should be so twangy that it almost feels like an “a” (as in cat). Your face should look like you’re taking a big bite out of an apple.

When you get to the “for me” section that climbs higher and higher at the end, change “me” to “may.” The more open vowel will both sound beltier and less pinched.

Bite an Apple

We mentioned it briefly, but on all the tough belt notes, or even if you’re just going for an intense head-mix, make your face look like it’s biting an apple. This’ll serve you on the me’s, the nevers, and even those really high enoughs. The bite face will help add brightness and keep your soft palate high to create a big, rich sound.

Not So Instant Gratification

Never Enough Support

First off, you need a mountain of support for those sustained belts. There’s really no quick fix for that one, so hop on over to another one of our posts to learn how to find your support muscles.

Brighten Your Voice Like a Thousand Spotlights

You really have to learn to twang to have a shot at this one. Here are some vocal exercises to help you out.

Na Na Na

Go for a bratty “na” sound. If you’ve read my blog before, you’re probably familiar with this one. Don’t worry about belting at first, but as your voice feels up to it, try to add to your belt range. ***Remember, if you feel a scratch, tickle, or cough, it means you need to back off and try again later.

Na Na Nah Nah

Start with the “na” and then open up to an “ah” sound. The “ah” is a little harder, because the higher-tongued “a” makes brightness easier and keeps things from getting clunky.

Sustain the Nah

The hardest, of course, is when you add a sustain. When the first two exercises feel easy for you, try holding out one of the Nah’s. Sustaining tends to be where singers get the most tense and uncomfortable, so keep returning to those support exercises and try some of these relaxation maneuvers: rock your head back and forth, walk around, or massage your jaw.

Have a hard-to-sing song you’d like to see featured in this collection? Let us know in the comments section. Want to know if you’re doing it right? Post clips to instagram or facebook and tag our handle, @mollysmusicschool, for some feedback.

A Million Dreams - The Greatest Showman: Hard Songs to Sing

Hard Songs to Sing: A Million Dreams, from The Greatest Showman

By far, my most requested song to learn in voice lessons from both boys and girls right now is “A Million Dreams,” from the film The Greatest Showman. It may not be as tough to sing as “This is Me,” from the same movie, but it poses a unique set of challenges that singers new to belting sometimes struggle with. We thought it would be the perfect addition to our Hard Songs to Sing collection.

Why Is This Song Hard

1. The choruses start low and then quickly build to higher notes, leading some singers to tense up, get shouty, or flip into falsetto and drop out at the top.
2. The bridge has some sustained B4’s that can get tough.
3. The last “A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make” in the song will test your breath control. Seriously.

Instant Gratification

The Main Choruses

The problem with these choruses that move from low to high is that singers will have a tendency to start at an easy speech tone and then try to yank that speech tone higher and higher until they’re just shouting.

Try not to visualize the vocal line in the chorus as an upward diagonal line.

Instead, think of a series of waves that slowly drift upward.

This visual will do a number of wonderful things: your larynx won’t have a tendency to go higher and higher, the up-and-over visual will help your soft palate lift and your thyroid cartilage tilt (creating a warmer, more open sound), and the downward motion will help prompt you to use good breath support.

In addition to this visual, there are also some vowel and consonant modifications to try. On the word million, the “l” sound will cut you off prematurely, so just swallow it. It should almost come out “mi-eu-yen,” but maybe not quite that far.

Slightly open the “ee” vowels, like be and see. Your tongue should stay in the “ee” position, but your jaw should release in a way it normally wouldn’t on such a thin vowel.

The Bridge

It’s easy to want to shout up to the high notes in the bridge. Since they aren’t crazy high, it feels like you shouldn’t have to set up for them. But don’t be fooled. You still want to keep that up-and-over feeling we discussed in the chorus section.

When you sing eyes at “close my eyes to see,” visualize that up-and-over feeling and sigh down onto it on an “ah,” keeping your soft palate lifted, your face energized and your breath well supported.

The Final Chorus

The arc of the pitches in the “A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make” line in the final chorus is illustrated by the turquoise curves below.

It requires a significant amount of breath support to go up and down like that and tends to lead singers to run out of breath, go flat by the end, or sometimes just get very tense. However, you can mitigate these difficulties by visualizing the arc differently. Instead of thinking of the line as something that goes up and down, have your body in place for the high part the entire time. Visualize the vocal line as if it were more like the dark black diagonal line that moves downward over the top of the curves instead of the curvy turquoise line.

If you’re set up for the high notes before you get to them, instead of trying to readjust every time you feel one coming, you’ll probably use way less air and sing more comfortably and efficiently.

Not-So-Instant Gratification

Unlike some of the songs we’ve worked on in our Hard Songs collection, this one probably won’t be out of reach for that long. Whether or not you want to belt most of it, you’ll need a lot of twang in your voice to keep a consistent sound from the lows to the highs. Try this “na na” exercise. For now, just be kind of bratty or witch-like with it.

What have been your challenges with “A Million Dreams”? Let us know in the comments section below, and as always, if you have a song you’d like us to write a Hard Songs tutorial about, make sure to mention it!