Mix Voice Booster
Welcome to Bohemian Vocal Studio’s Mix Booster warmup. In this premium warmup I’ll show you a step-by-step process for mixed voice singing and the key to finding middle voice, along with discussing the physical mechanics involved in mix voice singing in an extensive tutorial that features 4 exclusive video lessons. This booster warmup will share some of the most powerful mix voice techniques and concepts along with specially tailored mixed voice exercises that over time will allow you to sing with a powerful and pleasant middle tone and ultimately lead the path for developing belting technique too.
Booster warmups are intended as an addition to the Foundation and Growth 101 singing courses or personal coaching with Kegan here at Bohemian Vocal Studio. You can also join as a basic member to use these booster warmups and tools like the vowel translator – but do keep in mind all the ‘meat and potatoes’ information and tutorials are contained within the Foundation 101 singing course, which I recommend you start with.
Mix voice itself is a central blend of resonance between chest and head voice that not only allows you to connect chest and head voice in a fluid way, but also allows you to retain the rich depth and pleasant tone of chest voice while making use of the extensive range afforded by your head register. Are you ready to find your mix? Lets get started. If you’re a premium member, you can log in below – otherwise, you can join us to access the mix voice booster here.
Lesson 1. What is Mixed Voice?
Mixed voice is a blend of chest resonance and head resonance. It’s a common misconception that chest voice is a ‘muscle’ and that head voice is a ‘muscle’. While there is a partnership between weight and tension in the TA and CT muscles, the thyroarytenoid and the cricothyroid which thicken and stretch the vocal folds respectively, these muscles do not directly reflect the form of resonance you are making use of. As an example, middle voice often uses partial contraction of the TA and partial use of the CT muscles – they are not exclusively linked to either register.
Chest voice itself is simply a resonant focus that happens in your lower register due to how your vocal tract and resonators react to lower acoustic frequencies, and head voice is simply how your voice resonates in the higher range. By identifying each form of resonance you can easily start the process of building a ‘mix’ of the two and achieve a powerful middle voice. You can define middle voice as a blend of both chest and head resonance, somewhat like a gradient between black and white – your mix lies in the grey area of both extremes.
Lesson 2. Finding Middle Voice
Finding middle voice can be a tricky process for many singers, especially those with lower voice types like myself as a baritone. Over many years of helping my students find mix, I have developed a specific process and set of tools that makes the process of developing your blend much easier and quicker than hour upon hour of exercises. Visual tools in particular are very helpful in finding middle voice due to the ‘figurative’ nature of blending your resonance – many beginner singers can be very literal in the way they think of the voice, so figurative tools like projection really do help many singers find their mix. Lets look at each middle voice technique;
The intention of singing with ‘classroom voice’ recalls the specific tonal quality of your voice while you are singing in mix voice, allowing you to ‘jump start’ a connection between chest and head while also strengthening the blend of resonance through the middle of your voice. By imitating a teacher “Okay everyone, over here!” in a pleasant but assertive tone (don’t be weak, but don’t yell at the poor kids!), you will start resonating with partial resonance in both chest and head voice.
The silence method
When your voice is in the resting phase, it isn’t actually in the ‘chest voice’ coordination like you may think. Chest voice in your speaking voice often occurs when there is full contraction of the TA muscles, meaning that your vocal folds are literally contracted into a thick and short fold that vibrates very slowly and with a deep resonance. Now, if you alternate between complete silence and then a low chest voice note, it’s possible to identify contraction of the TA muscles in your vocal mechanism. Now, as you ascend up towards your first vocal break, you simply need to recall the feeling of ‘silence’ to release excess contraction of the TA muscles, and hence any excess weight in the vocal mechanism – leading to both chest and head resonance, or ideally the SOUND of chest voice without the FEELING of contraction in your throat.
As you ascend up an octave from your first break, allow the top note of the octave to become light and weak. Now, from this weak tone, perform a crescendo into a fully resonant sound, then descend back into your chest voice. You’ll notice that there isn’t actually a break between the tone you performed a crescendo into at the top. Now, try ascending again and downplay the weak tone a touch until you can perform the octave in a full and connected tone without any excess weight, and of course – achieve a mix of both chest and head resonance at the same time.
My approach to projection is a little different to most, in that I don’t imagine projecting AWAY from the body, instead I figuratively imagine that the voice is being projected back towards the singer, in essence changing the focus from either chest or head resonance to the central tone, achieving middle voice with ease.
These four tools have been a game changer for many BVS singers, and they can be used in a very practical sense when singing actual songs – we’ll get to that soon.
Lesson 3. Mixed Voice Exercises
While generic “Ma Ma Ma” exercises are usually linked with mixed voice, I have developed a much more streamlined approach to exercising your blend, with a focus more on vowel formation and where your resonance shifts between the two registers. Semi-occluded and small sounds like Lip Trills and the EE vowel are much more effective for building your mix in the beginning stages of learning how to sing than larger vowels that are harder to control. Remember, singing is a process of balance rather than a feat of muscular strength – middle voice depends entirely on your ability to blend and balance between chest and head voice, not strength or force from either side.
“We” – ooEE-ooEE-ooEE-ooEE
By ascending and descending in range while alternating between a W sound (alluded to by an OO vowel) and a pure EE vowel like We-We-We-We you will retain a narrow vocal tract space that is open enough to allow a blend of chest and head voice, but not so wide like an AH vowel that you can push and ‘splat’ as you approach your middle voice. Remember, the purpose of these exercises is to blend chest and head voice, NOT to sing as high as you can in chest voice before handing off. Mix voice literally means “Mix of chest and head voice at the same time”.
“You” – eOO-eOO-eOO-eOO
Now we’re going to flip it around and start with a Y sound (alluded to by an EE vowel) and a pure OO vowel like You-You-You-You. Not only will you retain the same open but narrow space of the previous exercise, but the OO vowel has the added benefit of training the soft palate to remain in a raised state as you ascend. If you found the the “We” exercise was nasal sounding, that’s because your soft palate inadvertently opened through your mix – it must stay raised against the nose as you approach your high range.
“Woah!” – woah-woah-woah-woah-
This is one of my favourite sounds in vocal training. By keeping your lips narrowed into the “Woah!” shape as you travel up and down a scale, you encourage a slightly lowered larynx, or at least a neutral larynx while also blending the resonance through the middle of your voice. The “OH” vowel in particular is useful in so many ways while learning how to sing – use it wisely.
“WAH” – ooAH-ooAH-ooAH-ooAH
An extension of the WOAH exercise, the AH vowel is the brighter version of these two linked vowel sounds. The trick with this exercise is to retain the oval mouth aperture of the previous exercise without darkening the vowel. When you can practice this exercise with full connection between chest and head voice – your mix is ready for training in real songs!
Use the guide tracks below to practice these exercises daily:
Lesson 4. Practical Use of Middle Voice & Advanced
The tools we’ve used in the previous lessons can also be used in a practical sense while singing songs. Many singers struggle to make a connection between the exercises that they practice, and the songs that they want to sing. With these powerful tools, your practice routine actually because the very rudiments that you use while singing actual songs. After all, the whole point of learning how to sing is to learn real songs, not just practice scales and lip trills.
Now, tools like projection and classroom voice are actually useful in a practical sense, so I encourage you to not only use the simple mixed voice exercises above, but also use these tools and drills in the songs you are working on. As you approach the difficult parts of your middle voice where you feel you have to ‘choose’ between either a pushed chest voice or a weak falsetto, instead use either tool to kick start your mix into action during the song. Learning to use middle voice in songs is actually one of the best ways to fast track your progress as a singer.
Now that you’re starting to use middle voice in actual songs, lets talk about taking it to the next level with advanced vowel sounds. The first few weeks you use the exercise in the middle voice booster, you’ll likely find that the smaller sounds like EE, OO and even open resonant consonants like N, M and NG get much, much stronger in a very short time – however, more open vowel sounds like AH and EY will take longer. This is due to the extra width required for these vowels to resonate properly. The vowel booster warmup will help you tune your vowels properly, but for now you can alternate between each of the exercises such as “WOAH” and an OH vowel, and “WAH” and an AH vowel and you will soon learn the difference between a splatty and wide vowel, and a properly placed middle voice tone.
If you have any questions about the exercises and techniques in the middle voice booster, you’re welcome to leave any feedback or questions in the ‘leave a reply’ box below.
Conclusion and Mixed Voice Examples
Mixed voice occurs when you develop a blend of both chest and head resonance at the same time through the middle of your voice – somewhat like a gradient. The biggest issues that many singers face with learning how to sing in mixed voice is the misconception that mixed voice is “high chest voice” and that it should retain the feeling of chest voice. Remember, chest voice isn’t a muscle – it’s a form of resonance’. A common issue that beginner singers experience is the expectation of a ‘shift’ between chest and head voice, or a ‘switch’ in the physical mechanism between weight and tension (the TA and CT muscles), when in actual fact their vocal break occurs due to shift in resonance between chest and head. By allowing appropriate resonant space through the middle of your range and using the tools and exercises. Using this booster along with the Vowel Translator and Consonant Guide will be an absolute game changer for your voice!
I’ll leave you with an example of middle voice singing in the following clip.
If you haven’t already signed up to the Foundation 101 singing course, this is a great place to start building a powerful and rock solid foundation for your voice. Foundation in singing really is like the foundation of a house, the concrete slab that your range and tone are built upon. When you’re ready to take your mixed voice singing to the next level, you’re welcome to book a Skype Session with me and we’ll work towards extending your range and developing a blend of resonance in your middle voice.
If you have any questions about the middle voice booster or how to sing in mixed voice, you’re welcome to leave any feedback or questions below!
Kegan DeBoheme is Bohemian Vocal Studio’s resident vocal coach and voice expert. He teaches professional singing and voice technique to students all around the world and enjoys providing tutorials like this one on how to improve your voice.