Do you ever notice that when you sing along with the radio you usually have this very talky kind of singing that can be fairly loud but you have trouble reaching the high notes. Then when you sing at church on Sunday, you have this other voice that is, let’s just say, different, kind of whimpy maybe, yet sweet.
This isn’t everyone’s experience but it is common, especially for women. Songs on the radio are usually written in lower keys so the singers can use their chest voice. Then when they get to the higher notes, they “belt” out the high notes. This is that shouty, yelling kind of voice that some audiences love, and some audiences hate!
Traditional church songs are quite often written in a key that is too high to use your chest voice well. Instead, singers need to use their head voice to reach the high notes. This is why some church choirs with older women have that unique sound!
Depending on your singing background, you may be more comfortable in either one of these voices. Most children who grew up singing in choirs are very well acquainted with their head voice. Children who did not sing much growing up, are much more likely to be comfortable in their chest voice, because this is the range that is closest to their speaking voice.
The key here is to know which voice you gravitate to, and then work on the opposite. Good singing needs a balance of both the head voice and chest voice, irregardless of the kind of song you are singing.
Did you find this post helpful? Please leave me a comment!
I have a mellow voice a bit like Karen Carpenter and have come a long way without any singing lessons. I’ve always had a warm smooth lower register and a very distinctive break in my voice on F above middle C. I’ve enjoyed using the contrast of my weaker , breathier upper register. As I’ve got older it’s harder to control the break and my head voice is getting weaker still and not sounding so good.
I’m happy to stick to a limited vocal range and pick and choose suitable songs, in a popular/ celtic/ religious style, but I’m feeling I would like to get a vocal teacher. I really want to build on the chest voice up, and learn to blend the registers to get a rich sound on higher notes the way Karen Carpenter does. I’ve had some disastrous vocal lessons when I was younger, I just felt it wasn’t me singing, as I’ve always been a ‘natural singer’. Will a good classical teacher help me to sing in the way I want, or do I need to find a special teacher, one more attuned to the popular, slightly folky sound I desire?
In my experience, and according to Seth Riggs, creator of Speech Level Singing, a traditional classical teacher may not be the best answer for your contemporary voice. Most traditional teachers only know how to train one style, and that is classical. Classical singing requires a very low larynx and an open throat position. …it is very diffiicult to make “edgy, mixed, pop, contemporary and different” sounds with this technique.
If you can’t find a suitable teacher in your area I would suggest either Skype lessons with an appropriate coach, or even trying an online purchase of Singing Success (Brett Manning’s course) or Singing for the Stars (Seth Riggs). Because you sound like a seasoned singer and are describing your voice issue quite clearly to me, I think you may benefit from the exercises on the CD’s.
However, know that your approach to achieving higher notes is indeed in finding your mix. You will find your mix on the CD’s, trust me, the exercises work. The trick is for you to recognize the sensation and coordination from middle C to high C. If you can connect this octave with your strong chest voice (in the mix) you will indeed be crooning. This will not happen overnight. Recognize small positive steps in your songs when you realize that you just sang a “G” in your connected voice without flipping. This is indeed what made Karen Carpenter’s voice so fabulous. In fact, if you can get your mixed strengthened up to B flat, you should be able to sing all her songs in the original key.
Take note that your “unique” bottom end will need to “lighten up” for awhile. Your goal is to make the bridge, and then strengthen the bridge. If you allow your vocal cords to continue to approach the low notes the same way as you always have, then you may not have success. You see, your approach to those bottom notes is likely the reason you are “stuck”. Once you manage a connection then you want to keep this coordination at all times. This is your mixed voice. You may find that you cannot sing as low as you are now in your usual coordination. This, again, takes time to adjust and coordinate.
Hope that makes sense. It will be light at first….that’s OK….practise, practise, practise. Don’t push anything, just ALLOW the head voice to meet your chest in the mix. Don’t get discouraged. Remember your “habit” of singing with a flip has been your entire life. It will take time for your muscle memory to allow this coordination naturally in songs. Don’t forget that your breath support is crucial. I tell my students to visualize an open umbrella in your abdomen. (The open end being the ribs). It shouldn’t be uncomfortably open, just open none-the-less. This coordination keeps the ribs expanded and allows for the breath to go deep. Remember you don’t need a lot of air to sing, it’s how you use the air that you take it.
Another tip is practising a dog whimper sound and try to master it from F to high C without disconnecting. The trick to this sound is in the “cry”. In other words in your mixed voice. This may take some time.
In closing, I suggest that if you don’t have much success on your own, and you are wanting results quicker, then a SKYPE lesson is worthwhile investment. A good SLS teacher will have you mixing in your first lesson! All lessons are recorded and you may be on the road to success a lot quicker. Good luck! Thanks for your question. Susan
i seem to have two voices. one when i’m singing alone and another one when i’m singing before people. how do i know which one is my original voice?
I assume you are singing the same song, in the same key. If so, the only other two variables is your volume and your “nerves”. If you are nervous singing in front of people, it can cause a lot of tension in your throat which will affect your sound. Your best singing voice is going to be when you are most comfortable and relaxed. Thank you for your question. Susie