How To Sing In Mixed Voice

July 8, 2010 by  
Filed under Singing Articles

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. 1. A Liproll
  2. 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. 1. Scales and arpeggios using “mm”, “nn” and “ng”
  2. 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

Brett Manning also offers a dedicated course on the mixed voice called Mastering Mix.  I own a copy and recommend it to all of my students. 
Mastering Mix - Advanced Systematic Vocal Training Program


Aussie Vocal Coach,

Ian Castle

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Comments

26 Responses to “How To Sing In Mixed Voice”
  1. Nathaniel Newman says:

    Thanks Ian!

  2. Grace says:

    Hi Ian,

    This file will not download or save. It keeps giving me an error

  3. Aussie Vocal Coach says:

    Hi Grace,

    Thanks for that. All fixed.

    Ian

  4. louie mar says:

    hey! mr ian.. i am louie mar, 16 yrs old.i am very thankful for what u are doing to improve my singing hobby. I love to sing and i always do singing. I even sing to my bed during midnight. But i have a problem, i can sing but i know my voice is not that good. I have a deep-solid voice, a musculine voice, but most of the time, i didnt maintain that voice and my voice is turning into a frog like sound, maybe because of puberty. what can i do to maintain my musculine voice?

  5. Aussie Vocal Coach says:

    Hi Louie,

    Your voice can do some strange things around your age. Don’t be too concerned. I advice you to just “go with the flow” for a while until your voice settles down. It could take a few months. try to be patient!

    Ian :)

  6. louie says:

    hello ian, thanks for your response. I hope my voice will get improved. I will just continue singing. Can i send you one of my video and tell how to improve my voice? what site? thanks! i really appreciate you ian. Im not expecting for your reply but you did! a warm thanks again!!

  7. Aussie Vocal Coach says:

    Hey Louie,

    I’m happy to check out your video. You can upload it to my other website:
    http://www.aussievocalcoach.com

    Ian :)

  8. louie says:

    hey! mr. ian.. i was very welmed that you have response evrytime i ask a question or advice. i was really appreciated it. Anyways, you have sended me the website which i can upload my videdo, but i dont know where. do i have do sign up first?

  9. Aussie Vocal Coach says:

    Hi Louie,

    Yes you will have to register to upload a video.
    Don’t worry, it is free.

    Ian :)

  10. louie says:

    hey! mr. ian.. the sites says im already a member.. so what will i do?? i dont know where to upload my video. anyways, i followed your page on facebook. I also posted my video there. So maybe you can watch it there. Pls.. leave a comment.. Thank you again Mr. Ian.. :)

  11. Thomas says:

    Hello, Coach Castle

    The most frustrating part about singing for me is Choral Singing. You’re supposed to have some sort of power, but you can’t be over anyone else, but you can’t be under anyone else either. You also have to blend. For some reason, this causes me to have trouble when I sing higher.

    I find it hard sometimes to sing “better” and with confidence when singing in groups and I was wondering if there is a way to make the voice sound softer but at a decent volume level so that it’s not too loud and not too quiet.

    I seem to always have trouble making higher notes sound softer and stay strong. I always feel strained (and annoyed) along with hearing my voice weaken when I try to sing softer. Any tips?

    Sorry for any repetitiveness in my statements ~ Thomas

  12. Aussie Vocal Coach says:

    Hey Louie,

    I have left you a comment on my facebook page.

    Ian :)

  13. Aussie Vocal Coach says:

    Hi Thomas,

    I see your problem with the higher notes. I’dsay you are backing off to “blend” which is causing some tension. Volume is dependant on the amount of air you use, so if you can decrease your airflow while at the same time not tensing muscles in your throat you can sing higher notes softer. It’s a tricky situation because the nature of high notes requires a fair bit of air to allow the vocal cords to function properly.

    I’m not sure if it will help in your situation, but cupping your hand behind your ear will give you great feedback on your voice. This may help you sing with more confidence.

    Ian :)

  14. louie says:

    hey mr. ian. its me again sorry if i replied late because i have been busy. thank you for leaving a comment on facebook. i appreciated it. I have something to ask again…is it okay?? hehehe.. ahhm.. whenever i am singing live with microphone, i just noticed that my voice is turning heavy,, i dont know why.and i cant control it. unlike im singing with out mic. i think my voice is better. why is this happening?? thank you mr ian!!!!

  15. Aussie Vocal Coach says:

    Hi Louie,

    You can ask as many questions as you like!

    The microphone problem is probably more related to the type of mic and it’s amplifier/equalizer rather than your voice. All you have to do is sing exactly the way you always have and then adjust the settings on the amplifier to make you voice sound lighter/darker ect.

    I hope that clears things up for you.

    Ian :)

  16. louie says:

    hey mr. ian..there were times that i was having hard time when singing..i feel my jaw locks. like when i performed together with my group. we sang a christian song called our god is an awesome god.. and i also have no confidence when singing.. what can i do to make myself relaxed when singing.. because i can always feel a certain pressure everytime i am singing.i dont know where it came from..

    thank yoiu mr ian ;)

  17. Aussie Vocal Coach says:

    Hey Louie,

    Taking some time to do some deep breathing helps with relaxation. If you are feeling tense do a bit of movement like bouncing on the spot before you sing. This will also get your energy levels up.

    Ian :)

  18. louie says:

    tnx mr. ian. you really helped a lot;)

  19. Aussie Vocal Coach says:

    Glad to be of service! ;)

  20. louie says:

    hi mr. ian.. i guess my voice has already change.. there were times that i dont want to sing anymore because i guess, some people might get irritate to hear me singging.. i dont know what is the prblem about my voice. also i have colds,so my nose is like congested it also affects my voice… i want my voice back. like when i was a child. tnx mr. ian. i am hoping for a more helpful suggestion how to start again

  21. Harry says:

    Hi Ian,

    I was just wondering, how do you get in your mix? I’ve seen a lot of videos and searched all over the internet, and haven’t found anything. I’ve tried doing the vocal fry in my head voice, but I can’t do it very well. Is there a top secret technique or something? I’m not financially ready to buy Brett Manning’s Mastering Mix. Thanks for any help!

  22. Aussie Vocal Coach says:

    Hi Louie,

    Sorry I missed your comment! If you are unhappy with your voice I suggest going right back to basics and just simplify everything. Just focus on developing a nice relaxed consistent tone. Get comfortable in a smaller range and then build as you grow in confidence. My mini course exercises are a great place to “restart”

    Ian :)

  23. Aussie Vocal Coach says:

    Hi Harry,

    The best exercise that I know of to sing in mixed voice is the NG sound followed by a vowel. The NG will create a split resonance between your throat and nasal cavity. You need to move from that sound to a vowel slowly trying to maintain the same vibrations you are feeling in your throat and nose. Place 2 fingers on your throat and 2 on the bridge of your nose to feel the vibrations. I hope that helps.

    Ian :)

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  3. [...] As you would have realised by now one of the major reasons for the breaks in your voice is incorrect muscle coordination.  You need to learn how to transition between your vocal registers smoothly. You can reprogram your muscles by learning how to sing with mixed voice.  You can learn about mixed voice in this article. [...]



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