Bridging and Connecting

All singers really want to bridge and connect. For those of you studying speech level singing, bridging and connecting is simply another way of describing mixing.

No matter what method you are studying, this concept is universal. A singer who isn`t bridging and connecting is either yodeling (flipping), pulling chest, or singing in falcetto.

Sing above the pencil

For those of you still wondering if you are “mixing” with your head voice resonance, try this.

Visualize you are holding a pencil lengthwise between your teeth (or actually put a pencil between your teeth!). Now, direct every note you sing above the pencil line. In other words, “think” your sound into your face.

If you are pulling chest, you may notice that it helps you relax in the throat. Indeed, sometimes this is the only thing that needs to change in order to “allow” your head voice to join your chest voice…………Voila! You are mixing!

The mixed voice

I’ve talked about the “mixed voice” and how to find your “mixed voice” before. This is a term created by Maestro Seth Riggs in his Speech Level Singing method years ago. It is also used by Brett Manning, Roger Love, Dave Brooks, and countless other top-quality singing coaches from around the world.

There is a lot of controversy surrounding this term in the singing community. Some singing teachers from around the world cringe when they hear the term “mixed voice”. I believe this stems from the fact that we physically do not actually have a “mixed voice,” and the fact that many singers do not actually know what it is, what it should feel like, or how to get it.

However, I believe all singing teachers will agree that we do have a chest register (or chest voice as referred to by SLS), and a head register (head voice as referred to by SLS). These are two terms that have been around for hundreds of years, and are commonplace in a singer’s vocabulary.

I tell my students that a mixed voice is simply the ability of a singer to ascend or descend in pitch between their chest register and their head register without constriction, and with the appropriate balance of both registers. Every singer knows about those whacky areas of their voice where singing gets a little tricker. This area, called the bridge or passagio, is where the larnyx and the body need to make careful adjustments in order to sing higher without constriction. In SLS, coaches do this with carefully selected scale combinations of vowel (resonance), consonant (cord closure), and volume (air flow).

I, frankly, like the term mixed voice for myself and for my students. For myself, it is a balanced sensation (or state) that I exercise daily with scales to keep my voice healthy, strong, and flexible. I don’t use the same blend of mixed voice when I perform because I prefer to sing harder at my gigs. That is a choice I make. I am self aware of my vocal limitations, and trust me, we all have them!

Do you have questions or comments. Please leave them below! Thanks.

The Middle Voice…..

Do you ever notice that it feels like you have two voices? Well, you actually do have two “registers” and they feel very different. You have your low register (chest) which is used when you are speaking. Try it, put your hand on your upper chest and feel the vibration when you talk. If you don’t feel any vibration then talk a little louder until you do feel it.
Next you have a high register. Try to make a sound like a fire siren. Do you still feel the vibration in your upper chest? Are you feeling your throat strain as you try to make a high sound? Do it again, but this time look at the floor. Make your high fire siren sound, or a baby kitty meow. Check and see if you still feel vibration in your upper chest, or feel a lot of effort in your throat. If so, then you are having trouble accessing your true high voice. Your upper register should only vibrate in your head and sinus area. Try the same thing only lighter. Did that help? Do you get a sense of your voice being in your head? If yes, then you are able to access your high register. If you feel the effort in your throat instead, then you are having trouble.

It’s a common problem among singers so don’t be dishearteneed. Generally speaking, you are probably trying too hard. In other words, you may be blowing too much air, or singing too loud. Again, try the lighter approach (which may be breathy and weak at first), and see if you can make a high sound without all the volume and weight of your low register joining you. You may feel “the flip” and that’s OK. This is necessary so you can learn how to differentiate between the two registers. Once you are able to access your high voice (even if it’s lightly), then you can take steps to strengthen your vocal cords to hold back more air which will strengthen your high register. This is a necessary first step in moving ahead to the next step…………..the middle voice!

The middle voice is simply the area which crosses over between you low register and your high register. Singers who have the ability to seamlessly connect the two registers are well on their way to accessing their entire vocal range with ease and clarity. Accessing the middle voice is relevant in all styles of singing…rock, pop, country, gospel, and musical theatre and opera. Without accessing the middle voice, the singer may get “stuck” and reach a ceiling. The singer will need to sing louder as each note gets higher. The throat will get tight and the singer will tire.

Developing the middle and high voice can give a singer an overwhelming sense of ease and control. Not all vocal teachers strengthen the middle voice in a manner that connects the two registers seamlessly. Talk to your teacher and be sure he/she can make the sounds you are trying to make. That’s a good start anyway!