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.
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.