How to sing louder in a mixed voice

If you follow speech level singing dialogue online about “mixing”, then you have probably read, somewhere, sometime, suggestions that a mixed voice can’t be powerful.

Au Contraire! The mixed voice is very powerful.

Let’s review what is the “mixed voice”. The mixed voice is simply the ability of the singer to ascend and descend in pitch throughout all vocal registers with good cord closure, adequate resonance, and correct vowel placement.

That’s it.

The magic formula now is to allow this to remain consistent while you are singing songs. No going back to old habits. Instead, focusing on what’s going on “below the throat”.

Breath control is the number 1 force behind power. Intake and output of breath is key to finding your level of “power” for your voice at its’ current level of ability right now. It’s when you overstep your level of control to make your voice appear powerful, that takes you back to old habits.

If you are running out of breath while you sing, this can be a good thing. It’s telling your body to find ways (below the throat) to either get more air in, or stop letting so much air out. Awareness of your back, ribs, stomach and groin area are fundamental.

With proper momentum of your breathing, you can find the balance and control where you will not have the sensation of being breathless after long phrases in a song.

Beware, you may not be content with your level of perceived “power” with your current level of breath control. That’s why it’s best to have a good vocal coach join you on your journey to find “power” in your “mix”.


The Open Umbrella Sensation (Part 3)

So now that you are “belly breathing” we need to take you into the sensation of breath support. This is a biggy.

What is actually happening is the muscles all around your body (back, ribs, stomach) are engaging to “hold back”,  “suspend” and control your breath. Again, this can be very tricky because I don’t want you to totally hold your breath, and in fact, that may cause a lot of wrong tension in the throat and neck area. Remember you should feel relaxed from the shoulders and up. The effort and energy is felt below. This is where visualizations will help you find the correct sensation.

Remember you are breathing from the bottom up now.

Now imagine there is an open umbrella (or parachute?) sitting in your belly. The bottom part (the handle) is at the groin area and this can represent the straw sensation as you are breathing in. Imagine the air you breath in is coming up under your ribs and upper stomach area and expanding the umbrella. Now, remember the umbrella is not rigid and non-flexible like a real umbrella that would lock into being fully open. But, rather your “belly” umbrella is more like a strong, flexible, thick, moving, flowing, and engaging umbrella that expands to its fullest under your ribs and around your back when you inhale for singing, and then relaxes a bit when you exhale….but NEVER collapses. It is always there when you are breathing….while you are talking….and while you are simply existing! This open, moving umbrella sensation is now an everyday part of your new sense of breathing. This umbrella does not need to be huge. If you feel imbalance or get lightheaded, then you are over-doing these sensations. Regroup, relax, and start over. It should start to feel normal in small, manageable steps.

Stay tuned as put these sensations into the correct coordination for singing.


The Intake of air (the inhale – part 2)

Most of you have heard of “sing from the diaphragm” or diaphragmatic breathing during the singing. Basically this simply means that the ideal way to control your breath is to engage the diaphragm more fully. Well, we can’t simply tell our diaphragms to work harder, or better, or more efficiently. This usually just causes the singer take in way too much breath and creates tension in all the wrong places.

So, back-up and realize that your diaphragm is already doing its’ job. It is simply moving down when you breath in and coming back up when you breath out. This happens automatically.

A great way to engage and exercise this process for better singing is with the help of visualizations. This can be tricky because what works for one, may not work for another.

Step #1 – Check out your habit of breathing now when you sing the chorus of your favourite song. (It’s a good idea to sing in front of a friend or family member to get an honest opinion of what your body looks like when you are singing). Did your shoulders and upper chest rise? Are you taking in a huge amount of breath? Do you feel “something” in your neck and throat area? If any of this rings true, then understanding your breath and taking the time to focus “down yonder” is very important.

Start by lying down on the floor on your back in a relaxed state…..just as you would before you fall asleep. Notice your stomach moving up and down. If you don’t see this just slow down and take the time to “feel” this. It can be a very small sensation. You may be tense and don’t even realize it. Singing can cause an effort or energy level to exist high up in our chest area, so it may take a moment for your relax enough to connect with your abdominal area. It will happen….slow down and be aware.

I’m going to call this belly breathing…but obviously you are not breathing from your belly. A visual that may help you with this is that your belly is a small balloon (SMALL to start), and you are filling it up from your groin area. (I know this may be seem ridiculous so bear with me).

Tap into this groin and lower abdominal sensation as your breath. Now can expand or “enhance” this sensation? Can you make your belly expand further with the intake? Imagine your inhale and exhale is narrow as it would be when you drink through a straw (again you are filling from the bottom up). If you get lightheaded or feel out of balance, that is normal. Just regroup and do it again. You will eventually find a rhythmic balance where you can manage the inhale and exhale of your breath, as if through a straw, and filling your body from the groin area.

OK, now you need to stand up and get that sensation again. Yes, it is more challenging so slow down and take your time. These small awareness steps are huge in the path to better singing.

Breathing is a natural act, so this should never feel forced or tense. Instead teach yourself to relax and “allow” these sensations. Tap into your awareness by using the above visualizations.

Now go have dinner….but with the same breathing sensations. This is a breathing awareness you need to visit all day long.

Breath Support (Part 1)

Breath support is such an interesting feeling. When you tap into the exactness of this coordination with your body, your ability to sing better can explode. The ability to control your voice is what we are talking about here. The ability to manage volume changes, vibrato variations, and change tonal colors are under this umbrella of control that you can achieve from great breath support. Oh and yes, of course….sing high notes with power! We all want to do that!

There are tons of books and you tube videos about breathing and breath control during singing, so check out as much as you can.

The process needs to be broken down into 3 parts; the intake of air, the support of the air you just breathed in, and the output of the air (your singing)! These three steps must work together for optimum breath control. If one is out of sync, the entire process is unbalanced. That’s why you must TAKE YOUR TIME and be aware of the sensations in your body. I will try and describe what I feel through this process. Again, you need to take a step back, get in touch with your body, and stop focusing on the “sound” you want to make.  Focus on the feelings in your body.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and great breath control won’t instantly happen either. So be patient. When you learn what your body needs to do (and feel) to help you sing better, you can better your journey through this awareness.



The belt zone

Ladies, your belt zone is around B flat, B, high C, and high D. This is the area where we usually start pushing and tensing to make the sound more “powerful”.

One of the best things you can do as a singer is pay attention to consistency and tone of your voice. All the notes (below and above your passagio around A above middle C), should “feel” the same. They should resonate the same. You should not feel any undue strain in your throat.

What I mean by this is simply allow the sound to remain the same. Do not try and make the high notes more powerful or “more” than they need to be. They may appear breathy at first. That’s OK.

They simply need to stay connected.

Once connected, your power will come from focus that happens far below the vocal cords….deep within the body……the energy exhibited when holding back breath and creating a balanced pressure above and below the vocal cords.

Check out this head voice exercise to gain strength and power for belting.

oooo dynamic breath control exercise

The interesting voice of Alanis Morissette

Yes, there are loads of professional famous singers who sing with a high larynx. It’s their signature sound. It’s their uniqueness.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely not. It’s very limiting, tiring, and IMHO, usually not a marketable sound.

The key is the ability to sing with a larynx high (if one choses for artistic reasons, and to sing with the larynx stable and neutral if one choses). This is the case of Alanis Morrissette. I happen to think she is wildly creative and a very unique and interesting artist.

There are many important qualities that help the position of a high larynx create a manageable and non-straining sound. Optimum breath control and agility, strength and flexibility of the vocal cords are paramount.  The ability to produce oral twang and maintain strong oral resonance allows the singer to produce frequencies that appear loud and piercing to the listener.  Also, a singer needs control and ease of the jaw and tongue. This allows optimum freedom to form their speech-like voice with interesting and unique enunciation of vowels and consonants.



One way to improve your singing technique is by thinking about images or visualizations that help to put the body into the most efficient coordination.

There are many images that can help with breath support and breathing. Try this one.

Imagine you have an open umbrella in your abdomen. The handle is located near your groin, and the collapsible part is open and engaged under your rib cage. The part under your rib cage is firm, yet flexible. It can expand and open bigger (wider) as you inhale, and go back to the regular open umbrella sensation when you exhale.

Don’t think about your breathing too much. You will simply breath when you need to breath. “Feel” how your upper abdomen, rib cage, and back muscles are engaged as you breath. If you feel uncomfortable, then don’t inhale quite as much air, or don’t imagine your umbrella so big. Start with a visualization that feels manageable, controllable, and flexible.

This is a great place to start to improve your breathing and breath support when you’re singing. Make sure you are sitting or standing properly with good posture. (Chest slighly out and head anchored back like someone is pulling on your hair).  Close your eyes and take the time to allow this sensation. Don’t force it. Allow your body to rhythmically be engaged in this way with your breath. Learn to live with it. Learn to memorize it and engage it all day long.

What do you think? Can you sing like this? Do you notice how your throat is very relaxed? It should be. You should only feel this interesting energy in the area of the image — your abdomen!

Notice how it puts prospective into how loud you can sing.. Notice the control you feel when you don’t sing loud. This is the essence of great singing….to be able to sing at a low to moderate volume with great control and intensity.

You may feel that you can’t inhale very deeply. Don’t worry about that right now. It’s now necessarily about how much air you are able to get it. It’s absolutely about how you are able to control the air that you use when you sing.

Question? Thoughts? Please leave it below.

Get that sound out of the back of your throat

I know how it feels. I know you want to control it. I know it’s uncomfortable.

But, if you want to take your singing to the next level, you need to be willing to let it go.

That’s right, let go. Stop relying on the inside of your throat, tongue and jaw area to help you control your sound, and let the sound go. I know it’s breathy. That’s OK. Experience it. Let’ go of it and start in the correct places to get control of it.

Control start deep down….way down. When you breath in, visualize your entire belly and groin area expanding to allow your breath to go low and deep. Allow your abdomen to rhythmically expand and relax with the timing of your breathing.

Be sure to allow your body to maintain that bouyancy sensation of your ribs and abdomen slightly expanding as you breath in, and slightly returning as you exhale. But, don’t let this spongy, bouyancy feeling of breathing in your body leave you. You can control it. You can go about your daily chores and activities with this sensation all day long. It may be uncomfortable. It may feel like you are expanding your rib cage and your back, and your upper belly in an unusual way. Learn to welcome it, learn to engage it, learn to live with it. You are re-learning how to breath like you did when you were born….diaphragmatic breathing.

Next, is learning how to take in a quick, small sip of air that will accompany your breath support when you go to sing. Notice I said small. At this point, that’s all you really need to sing your phrases. However, if you need a little more, your body will tell you. Typically it’s not the amount of air you take in that matters right now, it’s how you are taking it in, and how well your body is controlling it. It’s the quick, rhythmic intake that sets you up for that first onset of making great sound happen.

Spend some time getting to know your breath. Your singing will thank you for it. It may not feel exactly like mentioned above, but if you allow yourself to get in touch with your own breath, amazing things can happen!

Honing your skills

Do you ever wonder how your favorite singers on American Idol got to be so darned good? (I’m referring to the singers in the finals, of course!). How can people possibly sing like that?

Well, let me tell you one of the secrets that is not really a secret! These singers are singing every day: sometimes for hours and hours. Many of these singers have been practising their singing skills since they were a child.

Now refer to your singing history. How long have you been singing? How are you going to add more hours of singing to your bank.

One of the best ways to get more practice each week is to join a choir, a band, or  sing karaoke regularly. It sure is a lot more fun working on your skills when you are actually “performing”. The more you sing, the more you become aware of the control you can have over your breath control and larynx (your voice box in your throat).

Singing everyday will always move you forward. As long as you are focused on correct technique, you will continually see improvement in your voice.

Optimum breath control

Breathing technique, for me, was learned instinctively. Let’s face it, if you want to sing long phrases with good control, you need to figure out your body (which includes your breathing) and ways to control the input and output of your breath.

Too much focus on your breath can sometimes cause you to push and tense up. Remember, everything about singing is a balancing act.

I suggest starting in a relaxed state. When you inhale (through your nose), sense the intake going all the way to your toes. Sense the rhythmic flow of your intake as your belly and groin area engage in this rhythm. Try to stay relaxed and comfortably balanced (with tall posture) with the amount of air you can intake at this effort level. In other words, find your ultimate relaxed state where you can do this exercise without being short of breath or lightheaded.

Close your eyes and relax into this buoyancy. Again, sense the rhythmic and relaxed manner in which you can breath deeply.

Going through this ritual regularly will get you in tune with your breath rhythm and cycle. Once you know you are taking the breath down in a controlled fashion, you can start to elongate the inhale and exhale process (through your nose). As you do this, visualize your abdominal muscles and upper stomach area and back muscles expanding (stretching) and contracting in rhythm with your breath. Sense the slow motion control you can manage as you engage your body in a fashion that will ultimately help you sing better.

If you are continuing to be light-headed or short of breath, then back up and focus on the point where you can manage the exercise at your effort level. Again, this is about becoming aware and in control of your body and breath. For some, it will be totally foreign because you have been shallow breathing for your entire life.

When in doubt, do this exercise when you are tired and lying down in bed. Notice your belly and relaxed state your body is in before you fall asleep. Try to capture this slow motion buoyant and relaxed feeling deep within your body. Then try to match your stomach, abdominal and back muscles with the rhythmic flow of your breath.

Hope this has helped you sense how your entire body should be involved in good singing. I don’t talk about breathing too much because if your vocal cords (onset) are not in good shape, then your breathing efforts simply get in the way. However, once you are mixing and getting good cord closure, your breath control is your ticket to control with volume, better tone, flexibility, endurance, stamina…..get the picture?