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Secrets to the mixed voice (pt.1): Identify to gain more control and range! -

Updated: Nov 14, 2023



Frustrated by the nebulous mix voice? Not quite sure you are using it?

Not quite sure how to control it? Here are some tips on how to find it then free it!



I spent many years asking that same frustrating question! Can you identify?

Don't worry, you are not alone by FAR! So many singers come into my studio with the same question!

And these are sometimes seasoned, experienced, professional singers. Maybe some singers never use it, maybe some singers use it all the time but don't recognize that that's what it is. So... what the H-E-double hockey sticks is it, you still ask?

I'll get right to it!

In short, it's the voice you feel between your registers.... your chest voice and head voice. It is where you imagine your chest voice and head voice, in a way, blending or mixing together. In concept that makes sense, but defining the mix and finding it then using it are different things altogether!

And it is a bit more complicated than that...


My personal journey to find my mix!

Yep, that's me when my tummy was flat!

Picture a sunshiny California day in Anaheim, CA circa 2005. Disneyland to be exact. You grab your popcorn from the street vendor and turn around to see and hear a happy little a cappella group coming your way...

...singing.


Well that was me and my very talented friends in a group called


GROOVE 66.


A very fun group... but it was the first time that I, as a light, legit soprano, felt the pressure to sound 'belty'. So that gig began my journey.

At first I just thought I was looking for my 'belt' voice. So I started exploring on my own and within the group. I'd practice it with my alto/belter friends and then I'd try it out on set.

Most of the times it sounded a little like this...





HA!

I wish I had an actual recording of it because it was really not pretty!

I would sing pretty, pretty, pretty, then... bam! Yell out the last note.

I didn't realize that what my voice really needed was to...

MIX!


So...

I found an amazing coach who helped me begin my 'mix' journey.

I've been singing with AND teaching the mix ever since...


...discovering new ways to access it for those who struggle with controlling it.


But WHAT exactly IS the vocal mix?


To put it simply, there are 2 main muscles that control the larynx and thus the registers. The Thyroarytenoid and Crycothyroid. It's quite a bit more complicated but the caption in this image says it all. "As one takes over, the other has to let go." And many theories state that there is a moment where they cross or work together.


BUT...


would you believe it's a bit controversial?



Here's what I mean. There are some more recent theories say that the chest voice and head voice muscles (Thyroarytenoid/TA and Crycothyroid/CT) don't actually work together the way we thought.


But whether it is a physiological truth or not, the mix is definitely a register that we, as singers, 'feel'!


I believe, feel in my voice, and hear in my students' that whether the mix is more of a mental shift or a physical shift. It is a DEFINITE shift. It is a DEFINITE 'placement' or production of the voice that all singers feel and can benefit from!


But what does it FEEL like?

  • The mix feels very thin and forward.

  • It feels like compressed energy in your sinus area.

  • You should feel intense resonating in your 'mask' area as opposed to your chest because...

  • ...as you ascend it feels as if you are dropping weight from the chest voice WITHOUT ever leaving the chest voice completely.... without ever losing that edge.

  • Connecting your speaking with your singing can help find your mix!


How can I FIND it?


There are a few different ways that I always use in my teaching studio.

Here's just one...

I mentioned connecting your speaking and your singing....

well 'Character voices' are one really helpful way to access your mix naturally.


Try this...

Sing something in the range of a *mix... on the high end of your chest voice.

Now sing it like a witch or a cat... a character that is almost 'nasally'.

Can you feel your voice reverberating in a different space?

In your sinus area/ between your eyes/ your mask?

Does it feel like a compressed the energy?

You are in your mix.


Tips:

1. Don't let yourself flip to head voice.

2. Resist the urge to get any louder as you ascend. That could pull up more chest voice. It should feel intense but that's not the same thing as volume.


*This is more specific to a more powerful mix with a belty sound. More on the levels of mix in my post "Why anyone can develop their mixed voice".


Another good thing to try...

Find a song with a passage you want to sing with more power or edge.

Speak the lyrics from the song as if they are a line from a play.

Do it again and now... Project.

Now do it again... pitch it a little higher and project a little further.

Once you know you are in the range of the line within the song, try singing it.


Be smart... don't hurt yourself.


If it's a long phrase, work up to it. Try it at a quicker tempo or with shorter note values.

If you feel strain. Stop. Revisit it tomorrow!


Sign up for the free quick warm-up in the side bar for more exercises!


WHY should I use it?

I think this maybe goes without saying, but...

  1. The mix is a healthier and less strenuous way to get power and edge in your middle and high range WITHOUT strain, fatigue, or damage to your cords!

  2. If you learn to sing in the different levels of your mix it will also... smooth the gap or break between your chest voice and head voice.

  3. Because of the balance you create you will gain a level of control in your voice that goes beyond any you've known.

  4. You will become a singer that has more musical diversity... and I believe every pro-level singer needs this to gain more gigs and experiences!


And who doesn't want that?




Everyone has a mix.

You heard me right. It's just a physiological part of the voice.

You may have training that leans a little more belty or a little more legit

and that's your muscle memory so you feel like your voice just isn't meant to mix.

But that is only because you have no muscle memory built for it.


Everyone's mix is unique to their voice and

if you are willing to do a little exploration and discovery into new vocal places and sensations...


... YOU CAN DEVELOP A MIX.


... EVERY SINGER CAN.


Your turn...

Time to get to work on it!

Pull out your vocal warm-up routine and make a few additions or modifications to work on developing that new 'mix muscle memory'!

If you don't have a routine, head here to grab one in your specific range with specific instructions -unlike most of what you find on youtube!


Let me know how it's going in the comments!

What song are you going to try and conquer with your newer, stronger mix?


Happy Practicing!


Image by alisaapps @pixabay

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Hey! I'm Karen.
I am a vocal coach
and pro singer for Disney and the Los Angeles film and tv biz... and have been prepping singers for pro level singing for over 20 years.


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