|Originally published: June 23, 2020|
Vocal Exercises for Mixed Voice
What the heck is a mix voice?
A “mix” is a vocal coordination where the muscles that thicken the vocal cords stay active at the same time that the muscles which lengthen and thin the vocal cords for higher pitches are also active.
Although the mixed voice is a balancing act that is somewhat difficult to achieve for many singers, it results in a sense of ease even though you are producing a strong, speech-like vocal sound even on higher pitches. A “mix” is not just one thing, but rather a constantly changing ratio that can be:
You see, depending on the vowel, pitch, volume level and tone quality of your sound, the amount you engage the thickening muscles versus the thinning muscles may change slightly with almost every syllable!
Singdaptive instructor, Kerri Ho is a real stickler for developing your head voice before developing the ability to mix, and includes many great exercises for this in her lesson videos. Then, when singers with strong head voices are ready to try mixing, Kerri’s next step is to lighten their chest voice. Here are two of Kerri’s exercises for developing mixed voice:
1. CHILDISH “BAP” – While singing in chest voice, try to “channel” the forward resonance of head voice and keep your sound light. Sing “Bap bap bap bap bap” on an ascending then descending triad. Imitate a child’s voice throughout.Start low in your range – i.e. at a comfortable pitch for your chest voice, then move the exercise up by semitones as high as you can with comfort.
2. MIX WITH “GOOG” – Sing a full arpeggio up then down on “Goog.” Start low and go up in semitones with each repetition. Go high enough so that the top pitch is higher than the point where your voice would crack or switch into a lighter (head voice) quality. Keep your throat relaxed and try to embrace the sensations of both chest voice and head voice. The “G” helps build up intensity, but prevents you from putting pressure directly on your vocal folds.
Check out our Insta-Live chat with jazz diva, Lizzie Thomas. Lizzie was a busy gigging jazz singer before the pandemic. Then, in isolation, she went live with a series of performances which touched the hearts of many. She takes us behind the scenes to reveal insights and ideas for all singers.
Classic Songs for Your Voice Type
Since there are few performances to prepare for at the moment, why not learn some new repertoire? Check out this list of songs by voice type including art song, folk song and classic musical theater.
Kathy Alexander is VP of Curriculum for Singdaptive. She was a staff writer for 6 years at VoiceCouncil Magazine and works for the University of Victoria as a practicum supervisor. Kathy is also a singer, vocal coach and choir director. Career highlights include guest appearances in Europe with Quannah Parker jazz fusion band in Norway, and back on the West Coast with Vision TV’s Let’s Sing Again, The Sooke Philharmonic Orchestra and the Victoria International Jazz Festival.