How To Sing In Mixed Voice
How To Sing In Mixed Voice
Let me ask you a couple of questions. Do you find that your voice hits a ceiling as you sing higher? Do you feel a lot of strain as you sing higher? Does your voice appear to have gaps in your range? If you answered yes to one or all of these questions then chances are you are either struggling to find your mixed voice or have no idea what it is and how it can help you.
I feel your pain. As a young singer I had some real issues with the higher part of my voice. My voice would feel fine and sound great until I started to sing higher. It was as if my voice was hitting a ceiling. It really frustrated me because I had no idea why it was happening. The higher I tried to sing the harder it became. My voice would eventually give up due to the amount of work my “singing muscles” had to do. My teacher at the time offered no solutions to me. He concluded that there must be something wrong with my voice. This really affected my confidence and I developed a real fear of singing high notes. I found myself forced to sing in a small range which didn’t do my chances of making a career out of singing much good at all!
Fast forward 14 years and I do have a career as a professional singer and vocal coach. I can now sing very high notes without feeling like I’m about to burst a blood vessel! My voice is seamless from top to bottom and I’m not limited to what I can perform. I don’t write these things to impress you, I write them to give you hope because I was once in your shoes. I know your frustration and pain, but I also know there is a solution.
My voice found its freedom when I found my mix voice.
What is Mixed Voice?
Okay it’s time for me to go into teacher mode. I don’t want to bore you with too much theory on how the voice works as I want this article to be of practical value and not purely theoretical, but it is important that you know certain things.
Your voice has three distinct areas:
- Chest Voice (The lowest part of your voice)
- Head Voice (The highest part of your voice)
- Mixed Voice (The area in between)
These areas are commonly called vocal registers. Chest voice is called that because when you sing lower notes the sound should vibrate in your chest. Head voice gets its title because as you sing higher the sound should vibrate in the cavities of your head. Mixed voice is a combination of Chest and Head voice. You get the best of both worlds. The nice full texture of the low notes and the lighter less weighted sound of the higher notes.
Why Is Mixed Voice Important?
As you start to sing higher you need to drop weight from your voice. Nearly every singer I have taught has come to me with this problem of carrying too much weight into the higher part of their voice. The reason for this is related to our speaking voice. We naturally speak in our chest voice. Try it. Put your hand on your chest and say a few words. You should find that your chest vibrates when you speak. Because we are very familiar with this part of our voice it is natural for a singer to try and carry this sound up to the top of the voice. This is where problems start to occur. The muscles that control the vocal cords can only hold that “chest position” for a certain amount of notes before it physically becomes impossible to do so. You will find that if you try and carry that heavy sound up it will resemble a yell and the voice will eventually hit a ceiling. Have you had this experience? The answer? Drop the weight! I will tell you how in a moment.
The second important role of mixed voice is fixing breaks in the voice. There is nothing more embarrassing as a singer than having your voice break or crack during a performance. These breaks always occur in two places:
- Between chest and mixed voice.
- Between mixed and head voice.
I have some news for you that should make you feel better. Everyone has these breaks in their voice. They are natural transition points commonly called “bridges”. I’m only going to discuss the “first bridge” in this article which is your break between chest voice and mixed voice. This is a very important part of your voice because it primes your vocal cords (and singing muscles) to sing higher.
Most singers are not aware of this first bridge and it is the main reason why I struggled so much in my early days as a singer. I would take my chest voice up past this transition point giving my voice absolutely no chance to “re-coordinate” or change gears. The solution? Blend some head voice into your sound before you get to the “bridge”. In fact it is a good idea to always have an element of head voice present in your sound as it will help you create a seamless voice.
Exercises To Develop Mixed Voice.
I am going to share with you two aspects of developing your mixed voice and the exercises associated with them. The first and most vitally important is keeping a low larynx as you start to sing higher. Your larynx is the bump in your neck (also called the adam’s apple). To maintain a low larynx two great exercises are:
- 1. A Liproll
- 2. A “dopey” “mum” sound.
To perform a liproll you need to blow air out and try and make your lips vibrate together. Imagine the sound you make when it is bitterly cold, or similar to the sound a horse makes. The liproll is very effective to drop weight from your voice. The “dopey mum” sound will help keep your larynx low. I am going to include some video links at the end of the article that will show you how to do the exercises properly.
The second aspect of developing your mixed voice is the use of nasality. Nasality will help transfer the vibration (resonance) into your head. Exercises which I suggest are:
- 1. Scales and arpeggios using “mm”, “nn” and “ng”
- 2. Combining those nasal sounds with vowels.
My favourite exercises are scales using “ng” and the sound “nay”. If you are struggling to work out how to do an “ng”, say the word “sing” and then hold the “ng” at the end. It’s a great exercise for balancing the tone of your voice. I will include links to these exercises at the end of the article.
Benefits Of The Mixed Voice.
There are some wonderful benefits you can expect when you discover and develop your mixed voice:
- An Increased Range
- Increased Power
- A more impressive and meatier tone
- Boosted Self Esteem and Confidence
- The ability to sing in a variety of genres
- Eliminated strain
- Increased vocal endurance
Learning how to sing with mixed voice solved so many vocal issues that I carried around for many years. Issues that held me back vocally and affected my confidence. I hope this article has given you some hope and ideas that you can use in your own vocal development.
You can learn more about the mixed voice and try and exercises outlined in this article by enrolling in my Free 8 Week Vocal Course