How To Sing in Mix Voice
If you push and bellow every time you ascend in range, it’s likely you’re not balancing your vocal registers in your mix as you ascend. Never fear, learning how to balance your registers and how to sing in mix voice is an easy process when you understand how your registers function. Learning how to connect chest and head voice occurs in what is often called the mix or middle register, which is a direct balance between vocal fold weight and vocal fold tension. Over time you can strengthen this mix so that your break is gone for good and you can sing using the full potential of your vocal range.
Chest voice occurs when you engage the Thyroarytenoid, or TA muscles, which contract and thicken the vocal chords. Head voice occurs when you engage the Cricothyroid, or CT muscles, which stretch and thin the vocal folds. Now, these two processes are two separate mechanisms, but they can and should be trained to work in tandem, resulting in a mix or blend of resonance from both your head and chest voice. Head and Chest are used interchangeably to describe engagement of either the TA or CT muscles, or literally to describe resonance in the chest or head. Learning to blend this resonance is a key aspect of a great singing voice, and can be developed with practice, patience and perseverance.
What is Mix Voice?
When a central balance between vocal fold weight and vocal fold tension occurs, TA and CT engagement at the same time, you end up with a third honorary register that is often called the mix register or the middle register. This middle register is the voice that you hear many professional singers displaying at the height of their vocal prowess. Developing this balance takes time and practice, but can be achieved with a number of simple exercises that will strengthen your mix voice over time.
Connecting chest and head voice should be your first priority beyond setting up a strong foundation. Without connection between the registers, developing a mix tonality really isn’t possible as it requires resonance from both ends of your range, high and low.
Many beginner singers suffer form a weak and breathy head register, and instead of strengthening their head range, they instead AVOID the head voice and try to push their chest voice as high as possible. This has the unfortunate result of an unbalanced voice that lacks clarity, is often strained, has a limited range and most of all, lacks the mix register. The first step is to develop efficient resonance throughout your whole range so that you are tonally consistent through every change in your voice. This can be achieved through first training semi-occluded sounds like lip trills and smaller resonant sounds like N and NG while working up to closed vowels like EE and OO. Over time the physical connection that these sounds encourages will start to occur naturally in your wider vowel sounds like AY and AH.
Balance is key to mix voice
Great singing is a result of balance, not muscular strength or brute force. A great singer isn’t a strong singer, they are a balanced singer. Every single aspect of your voice boils down to balance, from a balanced onset right through to a proper blend of resonance – and every issue you experience as a singer can be traced back to an imbalance or lack of balance of some kind.
Avoiding your head voice isn’t going to make you sing with a strong tone, over time this will cause an uphill battle of imbalance that will result in persistent vocal strain and an unpleasant tone. Are you mixing your registers, or are you pulling your chest voice?
The first step is to set up a strong and rock solid foundation for your range and mix voice to be built upon. A great place to get started is the free foundations courses here at BVS which will show you how to set up the most rock solid foundation so that your voice is balanced and consistent throughout your whole vocal range. Then when you’re ready to take your voice to the next level with professional voice coaching you can book a Skype Lesson and we’ll start working towards extension of your range and developing control and consistency in your voice every time you sing!
If you have any questions about learning how to sing or mix voice in general, 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.