Stuck in chest?

There are all kinds of singers with all kinds of voices. What kind are you? Knowing your habits is a huge step to improving your singing.

Learning how to “mix” from the bottom up, and from the top down, is the most important coordination for your voice. We learn how to do this in the exercises, but more often than not, when we sing a song, we go straight back to our original habits.

One way to move forward is to practise the “call”. Check out Ian Castle from here……and good luck with those high notes!!

7 thoughts on “Stuck in chest?

  1. I am indeed stuck in my chest. I find it so frustrating that I can’t find my mix. I like to sing a lot of rock and metal and my mix is currently not existent, so you hear my break clearly and very noticeably. What frustrates me is that I have tried all the humming up and down my range through chest and up through head etc, the ma-ma-ma exercises, and all the rest.

    To me, all the singing ‘coaches’ (if you can coach without hearing feedback from your student??) use methods to find your mix which…well.. don’t let you find anything, and they all look like they’re straining and it sounds very unnatural and forced -not desirable in the slightest. Also I have a feeling most of them are not even mixing, it’s just some kind of belt.

    What adds to my frustration is the fact that just the other night, I was singing along to some Iron Maiden, the singer of whom is Bruce Dickinson. Pretty much any given song from Iron Maiden is golden, vocals-wise, and very hard to sing along to, since Bruce sings in and out of mix effortlessly in most songs, and frequently too, but I was singing along to a song called “Infinite Dreams”. If you listen to that song, around 1:05, you can hear when he first starts singing. I’m not sure what note that is but it’s around my break area (I’m a male and this is where my head voice would start to, or already be). As you can hear he is mixing his voice. I not particularly mistakenly but still unexpectedly found my mixed voice! I was so excited, I could reach any note!! Then when I stopped vocalizing, I lost that feeling and mix. When I felt the mix, I knew I was in it because I wasn’t breaking or straining too much. My vocal chords felt like what they feel like in head voice (sharp, buzzy) but I had my chest resonance.

    When I was in mix, I felt like I was telling myself topull the sound toward the rear of my throat and bringing it up and over something haha I don’t know.

    Sorry for the long ‘comment’ but my question is:

    Do you have any REAL tips for mixing the voice, when I should try to mix instead of climbing higher in chest or anything which can allow me to find the mix again? Mixing is crucial in the music I like, and I know it’s just waiting to be accessed. Thank You! 🙂

    • Hey there, Thanks for writing. You seem like a pretty smart guy. I am pleased to help if I can. Here are a few REAL tips that might help.

      First, you are correct in suggesting that a singing coach can’t really coach without hearing the voice….that’s true! There are far too many variables. But here it goes anyway!

      Tip #1
      Watch your volume. You should be able to sing your entire song in the comfort of your car without annoying your passenger. It should feel relaxed….it might be breathy….but no flipping!

      Tip #2
      Engage the muscle at the top of stomach. I have no idea what this muscle is called. It’s the area at the bottom of your rib cage. You may feel engagement in your back ribs as well. Engage this area as though someone was going to punch you. This will help create the balance of breath intake and output with each phrase. It can be a little uncomfortable if you are not familiar with this sensation……but learn to love it. It may take a while. Start small. Be careful that you are not creating any unnecessary tension in the neck, shoulder or jaw area, however.

      Tip #3
      Always sing in mix! Your comment that Bruce sings in and out of mix effortlessly is wrong….he is mixing all the time!

      Tip #4
      Head voice rules! Head voice is the key to mixing well. Do your exercises every day, like brushing your teeth.

      Tip #5
      It is not uncommon for amateur metal and rock singers to have over-compressed, thick and stiff vocal cords. This is a byproduct of “pushing” rather than “allowing”. Work on exercises that take you from soft to loud, and loud to soft throughout your range. Work on singing with vibrato to teach the cords to relax enough to “allow” the tone rather than “push or force” the tone.

      Please let me know if there is a suggestion above that gives you an “ah-ha” moment.

      Thanks so much for your post and good luck!

      • Hi! Thanks very much for replying to my question :)!

        From your suggestions, I guess none of them were new to me as such, as I have done a lot of research, but the one that stood out the most was the one that said to mix throughout your range, not just slipping in and out. I actually think this is how I managed to mix the last time I found my mix.

        Also, another point was that restraining the voice as it coordinates itself for the different resonances mustn’t be hindered or manually manipulated. I think my years of singing in a strained, strongly pushed ‘chest’ voice has trained my muscle memory to overtake the natural, free movement of these laryngal and other muscles.

        I think my key problem with the mix is probably this! Trying to allow my muscles to freely coordinate, allowing for a mix. What sensations shoudl I feel? How can I train this smooth movement. Thank you, very helpful answer!

        • Hi again,

          I hope you are continuing to find freedom in your voice.

          You ask what sensations you will feel in a good mix, and the first thing that comes to mind is freedom and ease.

          With that being said, there is an “energy” felt in the breathing process. This sensation is in the upper stomach area mostly. This “energy” is the controlled momentum of breath intake and output, and is synced with your phrasing and dynamics.

          A good singer is someone who has the ability to accurately portray these details throughout their entire range. The challenge comes in the upper register where the cords need to thin, and the larynx needs to tilt, in order to create a beautiful resonating tone. Without vocal cord thinning, the sound can be harsh and, in fact, amateurish.

          Thanks again for your email. Keep on singing and let me know if I can help any further. Susie

          • Hi! Thank you for the reply! I will end my question with my findings. These are as follows:
            I think I am finding/have found my mix or can partially mix now. Before I couldn’t reach the highest notes in this song without pushing chest or using head voice/breaking flipping into head.

            I have found that what I believe to be mix is somewhat easy (I’m working on the ease), and I feel a sensation of air flowing freely around the back of my upper throat/soft palate area. This leads me to believe I’m in some form of mix. It does sound a bit light, but I’m working on it.

            For anybody out there wanting to know how I personally do this type of mix, I simply imagine the vocal tract (right from your upper stomach area to your mouth/nasal cavity) to be completely free and open (try breathing in very relaxed and imagine these areas opening and relaxing).
            I then use almost soley, my diaphram muscles in my abdomen to propel a healthy, strong supply of air to where it’s needed: in the vocal tract. Once I have this supply ready, I imagine the target area to be where my upper rear throat is (soft palate area to lower throat). To do this, you could try to prepare to yawn but without using any nose movement, just your soft palate.

            If you have found this mix that I am experimenting with (there are many types), then you sould feel what feels like a compressed (but you shouldn’t feel strain) air supply being gently release in a relaxed way against what feels like the rear of the throat.

            I’m sorry I can’t clarify further :/ i barely understand what I am doing. One thing is for sure, it feels good to be able to sing any note now (pretty much any note).

            I am also working on when to startng adding more head voice earlier to make the transition through my break area smoother, but I barely understand this yet.

            Thank you Susie for your guidance!

  2. Iam stuck in this for a long time also

    Doing exercises I developed a strong head voice that sounds less falsetto but still no mix voice, i only can sing in my chest range or falsetto-head i only have. These 2 options.
    I dont have a clear concepto of what can i do to start todevelop a mix, i prefer to know what is the right track that being doing ” blind shoting”. That is frustrating
    If someone edad this we can do a meeting un skype and xplain it with audios ,it will be easier thanks

    • Hi there,
      So sorry I missed your email in the summer…not sure how I did that.

      I would suggest bottom up vocal exercises with nuh and mum. Go as high as you can without flipping. Good luck.


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