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Ep.61: How to Sing Mixed Voice: Tension is our Enemy!
When you’re learning to sing with a mix of Chest and Head Voice, it can be very challenging. We bring years of singing with bad habits. Usually those habits include too much outer muscle tension surrounding the larynx.
Inside this video I’m going to help you understand what is feels and sounds like to sing mix with and without a tension and how to eliminate it.
Hi, I’m Chuck Gilmore with Power To Sing.
Recently I was reading some notes I made about my singing when I was first learning to sing with mix. I’m so glad I wrote down some things I was struggling with along with some questions.
Dated 4-12-97 (almost exactly 19 years ago from the date of this video): “While singing [in our show at church], I could tell I was approaching my passaggio and would flip and disconnect–and wondered why I couldn’t get there connected.”
Later we had a discussion in a group singing class with our teacher and I wrote: “We read that if [we] hit too hard in the lower register I wouldn’t be able to negotiate passaggio connected. I sense I was singing too loud and pulling chest.”
It’s all so new at first. You’re not sure what’s right or wrong. You’re not sure what you’re feeling and if that’s the right feeling or the wrong feeling. It can be confusing and frustrating.
I’m going to show you what mix sounds and feels like to me. Then I’ll show you what the same phrase sounds like when there’s tension. Maybe this will help you.
My excerpt is from “Chess”, the song Anthem.
So, I want to show you what it’s like to have the same song…the same area of the song with some tension in it. I don’t like doing it because it kind of hurts me. [Demo 1]
You can hear there’s tension. And that tension causes the larynx to rise and that caused my vocal cords to crack. [Demo 2]
Voice feels relaxed and natural. There’s no stress or tension. The vocal cords are connected. The larynx felt like it was resting where it does when I speak. The vibrato was present and easy.
It felt like I was in control. I could feel the resonance move between my chest and head.
Virtually 100% of the time, when we have trouble singing with a mix it’s because external muscle tension outside the larynx is pulling the larynx upward.
This prevents the free vibration of the vocal cords. It also alters our resonance spaces. We react by trying to help the vocal cords which adds more squeezing and tension. The result is the pitch is flat or sharp, the tone is not the best because resonance spaces are changed and often words become unrecognizable. The voice is out of balance.
The remedy is to eliminate external muscle tension.
Here’s two simple exercises to eliminate tension. It’s called the Tongue Trill and we do it with closed lips or “Goo” [Demo]
Once you can do these without tension, then practice pressing into the feeling of no tension…sometimes referred to as the feeling of “release”. Do this with the least amount of air pressure as possible. You’re training your vocal cords and air flow to work together in balance.
Gradually you can increase the air flow. If you feel yourself starting to lose the feeling of release and start gripping and grabbing, you are introducing tension. Reduce the loudness.
It takes time to retrain your neuromuscular system to coordinate your vocal cords and air flow so you can do it without external muscle tension.
This may help you find and maintain a mix voice faster than anything else you can do.
Mix is a vocal type. It means you’re singing from chest to head voice without any interruption in tone quality with an easy and natural and the larynx staying stable and resting.
Do you know your vocal type? I’m not referring to whether you’re soprano, alto, tenor or bass. Your vocal type is what you tend to do when you sing.
Visit PowerToSing.com and take the vocal test which I call the PowerTest. Take the quiz and determine your vocal type. Then go to the Knowledge Center and watch the videos about your vocal type.
Download the free exercises for your vocal type and start working on them. They’re designed to help you eliminate outer muscle tension so you can develop and then strengthen your mix voice.
I’m Chuck Gilmore with Power To Sing. You can sing higher, with beauty, confidence and power.
I’ll see you inside the next video.
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