This is going to be a long and detailed article. If you want to skip to the pure workout, I suggest that you directly get to the video series on my YouTube channel.
One of the most challenging thing for students of singing is the ability to extend their full voice range without choking or straining.
In almost every genre, mixed voice is used extensively, and having freedom, control, and power on all your range is certainly a signature of professional singers.
"Mixed voice is dead" "Belting is the real deal" "Reinforced head voice is the real deal" "It is either edge or curbing"
Unfortunately, the online teaching community fancies terminology over simplicity, mostly for marketing reasons, which tends to confuse singers more than helping them.
Lets make it simple here: mixed voice is the ability to sing in the high range while maintaining a full voice quality.
Whether you disagree with the use of this term is of little importance. As far as you are here because you want to sing powerful high notes, this article is for you!
Here, you will find a complete workout that, I hope, is simple, practical, and will yield regular, concrete results over the weeks. I must warn you though: finding your mixed voice will likely not happen over ten minutes of training. But it is definitely worth the effort!
# 1 Why do you hit a range ceiling even after years of singing ?
There are three main reasons why people hit a ceiling that are limiting their range no matter how they try
1- They are pushing while THEIR BODY IS NOT TRULY ENGAGED, putting all the pressure on their throat, and get hoarse (more common among male singers)
2- They BACK OFF INSTEAD OF INCREASING THE EFFORT, and access their high range with a airy voice and wimpy tone (more common among female singers)
3 - They SING IN FALSETTO/HEAD VOICE, and are sometimes being mislead to think that their full voice will develop from this spot
If you are stuck into one of these patterns, your voice most likely won't grow, even if you sing for years.They are not the limitations of your vocal fach, but rather the signs of improper technique and/or bad vocal habits.
# 2 Start to support your chest voice with your whole body
Mixed voice requires that you are able to blend your chest and head voice so that your voice stays connected while ascending in your high range. But YOU CANNOT BLEND REGISTERS IF THEY ARE NOT STRONG ENOUGH. And you cannot strengthen your registers if you don't know how to properly support your voice.
In this first workout you will:
1 - Discover the sensation of supporting your voice with your body
2 - Isolate the right set of muscles you need to tense, from the other body parts that you want to keep loose
3 - Apply this support effort to actual scales
4 - Get slightly out of your comfortable range to build a strong chest voice
How much time should I train ?
At least four days a week Short sessions (5 - 10 minutes) are the best Make sure you have warmed up your voice !
What benefits should I expect ?
Within a few weeks you should feel that your range has slightly increased. It may not be spectacular (one semitone), but you will notice it.
# 3 Developing a strong head voice and resonance
Now that you have consistently worked on your chest voice, it is time to strengthen the other register of your voice. You may succeed to extend significantly your "pure" chest voice range, but you will hit another ceiling. At some point, your chest voice will need to thin out ad lean more into head resonance. To make it happen, you must develop your head voice register.
In this second workout, you will:
1 - Apply support to your head register
2 - Stretch the lower and higher parts of your head voice range
3 - Find and lean into your head resonance
How much should I train ?
At least four days a week, short sessions (5-10minute) If your head voice is airy and feels weak, work with your comfortable range You can combine the chest and the head voice workouts
What benefits should I expect ?
Within a few weeks, you should feel that the lower and upper parts of your head register are stronger. You may develop a buzzy sound, and you will feel that you voice is less airy
# 4 Blending your chest and your head voice registers on passagio notes
Once your registers are strong, it will be much easier to discover and grow your mixed voice. The aim of this last workout is to discover how the voice can thin out. It means that you will tap into your head resonance (and avoid pulling your chest voice), but without losing entirely the connection with your chest voice. THINNING THE VOICE DOES NOT MEAN BACKING OFF: actually, you will need to support your voice strongly so that it doesn't flip into falsetto.
In this third workout, you will:
1 - Discover the sensation of thinning out your voice
2 - Learn how to thin out your voice while approaching and entering the passagio
3 - Apply your mixed voice on vocal scales
How much should I train ?
Once you get a hang on mixed voice, it is a really safe spot, provided that you support your voice correctly. You can definitely practice up to two hours a day. Make sure your voice is very warmed up and favor the afternoon.
What should I expect ?
When you sing in your mixed voice for the first time, you will know it, as it is a very peculiar sensation of stretching your voice. At the beginning, it will sound very thin and heady, but it will grow with time and practice.
# 6 I still cannot find my mixed voice / I am blocked in the tutorial
I have tried to make this tutorial as clear and complete as possible, but you may be blocked at one stage or simply not be able to find your mixed voice although you did all the workouts. There are a lot of different reasons why you are stuck, and I cannot cover all of them in a written article, since each singer has his own strengths and challenges.
Here are a few reasons:
Your are not supporting correctly
Your voice is strained from bad vocal habits but you don't notice it
Your do not train using the right vowels
You jaw is tensed, and stifles your voice
You still back off the sound instead of thinning it out
Your shyness prevents you from singing loud and strengthen your chest voice
You rush through the workouts and do not execute them properly
Your have a forward head position
Your tongue is positioned in the back of the throat, creating a muffled tone
If you are stuck with one of the workouts, I can help you through a one to one Skype lesson. I will be here for you, and identify where your troubles are. Mixed voice is an advanced skill, and sometimes, finding it requires subtle adjustments you may not even be aware of. Although a complete tutorial can help you, the best and the fastest way to improve is with a vocal teacher.