Thank you for a great year!

If you have been following my singing blog, you will know I have trained in a few different methods of singing over the past years. Each one has been slightly different, yet the same, if that makes any sense.

In my early years, I trained in Bel Canto with various teachers and later went on to Speech Level Singing and Estill Voice Technique.

As a singer in my teens, 20’s and 30’s, I always felt I had two very different voices. My “choir” voice and my “rock band” voice. I struggled with understanding what was going on and how to get the sound I wanted without hurting my throat.

A revelation came when I studied Speech Level Singing (Seth Riggs). I learned how to use my entire range efficiently without flipping, pulling, or straining. Those of you who have studied SLS will understand what these terms mean. I learned how to “mix”. That is, I learned how to bridge in my middle voice by allowing transition to my head register without strain. I later went on to teach SLS and continue to use a lot of these concepts with my students.

My issue with SLS started when I came to a stalemate about my middle voice while singing a song for a Level 5 SLS teacher. I was singing Somewhere Over The Rainbow in the key of C major. The first two notes are middle C to high C. This is a big leap over the female first passagio. My teacher was listening for a certain amount of cord closure and head resonance on the high C. I was able to produce the coordination and sound he wanted, but I personally didn’t want to sing my song the way he wanted me to sing it.

After studying Estill Voice Technique, it became clear to me that SLS is a safe and effective way to balance the voice, and to stay in “shape”. The exercises are fabulous, and I do them every day. However , with SLS I would never learn about safe belting or even a better understanding of your voice.

It is important for each and every singer to understand their own voice. When you know what you are good at, and what you are not so good at, then you can take the steps necessary to achieve the voice you always wanted.

In 2014 I will continue to share with you exercises and explanations that will continue to help you understand your voice and the art of singing. I welcome your questions and concerns, and hope you find my posts engaging.

Let’s face it….we all have one thing in common…we all want to sing the best we can!

Taylor Swift’s voice gets in the mix

If you have been paying attention to Taylor Swift’s range and voice, you will notice some changes happening in her mix. Her first two albums were “strained” in the mix, as she “pulled” her chest voice to manage notes of A, B flat and B above middle C on songs like “Teardrops on My Guitar” and “Stay Beautiful”.

Brett Manning has done some fine work mastering her mix. She is now sailing smoothly through her middle voice with ease. If you listen to “Safe and Sound” you will see she is reaching E flat at her second bridge in the lines “just close your eyes,” and “come morning light” in a nice light mix.

If she continues to train the middle area of her voice (which is the where you find your most commercial sound), we are sure to be delighted with a stronger and more powerful mix on the next album. Can’t wait to check that out!

The nagging “flip”

So this topic comes back and nags me every know and then. Actually, almost everytime I see a musical play.

Doesn’t it bother anyone to listen to a female singer with “two” voices? These singers who have a beautifully developed head voice all the way down to their belly button.

Of course, that’s the problem. The transition into mouth and hard palate resonance and the presence of “twang” just doesn’t happen very well, and these singers are left trying to figure out how to sing the middle notes around their first passagio. They are either yelling at the top of their chest register, or singing in their head voice only.

I’ve said it before….thank goodness I didn’t have singing lessons as a kid….or I could be one of them!


There are three main areas of resonance for the voice. The chest, the head and what I like to refer to as the middle. This is the mouth (soft and hard palate) and the back of the throat…..also known as the oropharynx.

This resonance happens easiest when you have a balance of chest register and head register (mix). If you are too much in a chest register coordination it is difficult to get this resonance, and same goes with too much of a head voice coordination. A good balance of the two will allow the larynx to adjust for effective middle voice resonance.

Check out this exercise to hear a good example of pharyngeal resonance. When you do the exercise you shouldn’t feel any strain in the throat. Just lift the cheeks slightly, and relax the jaw.

What’s after mixing?

Once you know you are “mixing” your voice, what is next? Is that all there is? Well, certainly not. Mixing is a good start, however!

The ability to mix your registers and sing well in your middle voice will set you up nicely with the coordination for safe and healthy resonance. But there are other very important factors such as breath control (airflow/volume), tone (vowels), cord closure (consonants), posture, and more to take into account.  All these factors need to work in a balanced fashion to achieve good results. When one over-rules the other, the voice (throat) and body will likely try to compensate, thus causing strain.

Here is an exercise that you should do everyday to work your vocal cords in your mix.

Let me know how it went for you!

The “Mariah Carey” Voice

Mariah is a fabulous singer! She can do acrobatics with her voice! She has managed to sing strong and consistently for over two decades while enduring the typical stressful life indicative of a top-selling recording artist in the 21st century.

Even a balanced voice like Mariah Carey’s can run the risk of vocal damage such as nodes and calluses when over-used. No “one” voice is perfect all the time, and no “one” singer will exhibit the same limitations of what can be done with their voice at any given time. Every instrument is unique and different, and will change daily with the conditions that are present at that time.

Does that mean a singer shouldn’t sing or talk when they are not at their absolute best? Well, yes, I suppose it does. But how is that possible? If singing is your living then you have a job to do. How can you possibly stop talking and singing when you feel the slightest problem arising in your voice? You must do your job and that means using your voice.

Bottom line is a singer needs to know their instrument, and how to keep it healthy and working when it needs to. Planning ahead and scheduling time off for recouperating is imperative in this music business. Keeping the body healthy and getting enough sleep is a must. Knowing how to vocalize daily is crucial. Singing is tough business.

That being said, we can’t expect famous singing voices to never show a sign of wear & tear.

And what about the fact that the music business actually puts voices that have a “wear & tear” sound on a pedestal! What is a singer to do?

Self-awareness is key. That is why I teach about the middle voice with special attention to bridging (mixing) at the first passagio. When singers learn how to control their breath, master their natural tone and resonance, and establish their baseline volume, they can avoid many problems that come with over-singing.


The Middle Voice

Oh, the controversy! Is there such a thing as the middle voice? Some would argue there is only chest voice and head voice, and a passagio (sometimes called a bridge or a break), separating the two. The chest and head voice get their name from where the voice resonates in the body.  If you put your hand on your chest and speak, you can feel the vibrations on your hand. This is your chest voice. If you leave your chest voice (which some people have a lot of trouble doing!) and go to a high free-sounding place (try the sound woo – woo), then you have found your head voice. Like I said, some people have trouble finding their head voice. Usually, this is men.

I, frankly, love the term middle voice. Since I like to sing music genres such as rock, pop, and country, the middle voice is where all the action is!  For women this is around middle C to high C, and for men this is around G below middle C to G above middle C. You will notice that almost all commercial music falls into this area (and more).

The middle voice is where you “get in the mix”! Again, there is much controversy over this term.

Mixing simply is a term used when a singer has the ability to keep their vocal cords properly adducted as they ascend and descend through their bridges. If you can do this properly, then you will notice a shift in resonance as the sound moves upward from your throat and mouth area into your face and head. Once you have ascended in pitch, it will actually feel like you are singing in your head, but not in a light falcetto airy mode. If you have kept the cords together well, and have allowed the resonance to shift accordingly as you ascended, then you have achieved a good mix. You should feel no strain in the throat whatsoever.

I’m very passionate about singers figuring out their mix. Once a singer learns the “feeling” and “coordination” necessary to be in a good mix, then they can work on building strength, endurance and enhancing tone.

Visit me at for vocal exercises to help you “get in the mix”!



Singers, you are so lucky!

Singers! Do you realize how lucky you are living in the 21st century? Gone are the days when you have to rely and listen to only one opinion or view of a teacher/professor, and what they recommend for your voice! You have access to tons and tons of information online about the voice and the various ways to learn how to sing. Get informed. Learn what you want for your voice, and how to get it!

Here are some things to consider:

  • If your teacher cannot make the kinds of sound you want, I suggest you go elsewhere.
  • If your teacher does not know EXACTLY where you passagi/bridges are, then I suggest go elsewhere.
  • If your teacher is teaching you to sing classical or Broadway, and says you can use this coordination in any style, then see if you can. If you can’t, and they can’t help you get the sound you want, then go elsewhere.
  • If your teacher is telling you the sounds you are making are wrong because they will damage or hurt your voice, and only wants you to sing in a classical coordination then go elsewhere
  • Watch out for teachers who only teach chest voice….yes, there are coaches who simply teach you how to sing loud and shouty as you ascend in scale. Can they sing clear and connected on a high note without shouting?
  •  Watch out for teachers who only teach head voice or chest voice separately as two different sections of the voice. If your teacher doesn’t understand about how to teach and connect the middle area, then I would definitely go elsewhere!