Mix Voice Misconceptions: 6 Things You Might be Doing Wrong!

learn to sing vocal technique Jan 30, 2024

Mix voice is a hot topic in the singing world, and chances are you're in search of that elusive experience of "finding your mix". In the world of musical theater, it's rare to find a singer who isn't exploring their blend, wondering whether they've found it, or simply wondering what mix voice is.

With so much (sometimes conflicting) information on how to achieve a mix, in this blog post Chelsea breaks down six common misconceptions about mixing and your singing voice.

If there's one takeaway we hope you get from this post, it's this: ANYONE can develop their mix. It's just a physical coordination, much like when learning to write—you have to coordinate your fingers, wrist, and forearm. Anyone can learn to blend the low and high parts of their voice and achieve a mix!

We can't wait for you to learn from Chelsea, so let's dive right in!

Misconception #1: Your mix is a separate register in your voice that you will discover one day

A: Not quite. I think a lot of people think about finding their mix as a separate entity and I'm here to tell you, this is not an archaeological dig. You are not going to stumble upon it one day. The verb "mixing" is exactly what it sounds like, it's a skill that you can develop. It's a coordination of blending your chest voice and head voice to sound like your speaking voice. 

Some people develop the blend naturally and without a lot of training, while others take months or years to blend that coordination in their voice. But thinking that you're going to just stumble upon it, or do one right exercise and then all of a sudden you've found it as if it's a separate place that you go tap into is a bit of a misconception.

Misconception #2: Mix voice is a different register in your voice

A: This idea that "If my chest voice is distinctive and my head voice is distinctive, then my mix might also be distinctive as its own register" is not entirely true. Think about mixing or mix voice as that blend of chest and head voice that happens at the transition points in your voice.

For us as singers, there are many places that we transition or "break". If that transition is really not smooth, we often refer to it as our break, right? For most:

  • Sopranos and Mezzo-Sopranos: That first passage usually takes place around A4 to C5
  • Tenors and Baritones: That first passage usually takes place around E4 to G4

And if those ring true for you, that's where you have an opportunity to allow mixing to happen. Head voice and chest voice are distinctive, but mix voice refers to the blending between the two at the transition points in your voice. Think about mixing as a technique that allows you to blend throughout your range with minimal breaks in your voice.

Misconception #3: I only need to mix if I sing in certain styles of musical theater

A: Think about developing your mix technique as something that allows you to blend throughout your range with minimal breaks in your voice. Stylistically flipping or choosing to switch between registers is such a cool stylistic tool, and we hear it all the time in pop music, R&B, and some contemporary musical theater. If you can only confidently sing with certain dynamics in only one part of your voice before flipping and going breathy - then that's limiting as a singer. Being able to balance your voice allows you to explore lots of different colors and stylistic choices!

Misconception #4: A mix voice is only going to sound one way

A: Singers often might feel like a mix needs to sound or feel a certain way - yet everyone perceives their voice differently. That's what makes singing fun and also difficult to teach, because everyone experiences their voice differently.

So some people do feel like they have distinct, "mixes" in their voice, while others perceive that mixing sensation moving throughout their range as a gentle and gradual stretch into the upper part of their voice. None of that's right or wrong, it just comes down to how you perceive your voice. 

Misconception #5: Everyone can learn to mix with the same handful of vocal exercises

A: Oh, how I wish this were true! But here's an analogy that I use a lot with my students:  Imagine a map of the United States and we're all trying to get to "mixed land", which is Chicago. Some of us are located in Seattle, some in LA, and others in Atlanta. If I only gave directions to Chicago from Atlanta, what are the people in LA and Seattle going to do with that information? That doesn't help them whatsoever.

It's the same thing with our voice, and this is why I feel like a lot of the information online gets confusing for singers, because they're taking information that could work for one person, or perhaps one vocal tendency, and hoping that those same vocal exercises or that same advice will going to work for them. 

It's important to understand that there may be certain exercises or processes to finding that balance in your voice that will work, and others that won't. (Keep reading to the end of this blog post to learn about our upcoming Mix Course that can help you discover your correct path!)

Misconception #6: When I learn to mix, I will never feel the transition in my voice again

A: I always tell my students to get rid of the expectation that they'll no longer feel the "break" in their voice. When they hear that, all of a sudden it frees them up to try new things, keep working on their voice and trust that their voice is doing the right thing even though they can still feel the mechanics of it.

An analogy I like is, think of a race car driver who is in a souped-up manual car. They still have to shift gears from one to the next, yet out on the race track, all we see is a race car just gradually accelerating. But inside, that race car driver is aware of when the car is moving from, "one register to another" - one gear to another.

I think this is important for singers to understand that over time, as this blend in your voice gets more developed, it will feel easier. It won't feel as severe as it did at the beginning, but it's never going to feel like nothing. Of course you will know what's going on, you're the one driving the car! It's your instrument, the instrument is not outside of yourself, it's a part of your body and you are going to be aware of what it feels like. And it's totally okay, get rid of that expectation for yourself and it will really free you to try new things.

I think if I could give singers any advice, I would just say to be kind and patient with yourself. Learning to sing in any capacity and to have an understanding of mixing through the passages takes time and real exploration.

Navigating online singing advice can be confusing for singers because what works for one person might not work for you. Singing is personal! This is why Chelsea is developing an online Mix Voice Course that focuses on personalized lesson plans based on self-assessments so that singers can find solutions that fit their specific needs.

Want to get more information about Chelsea's upcoming mix voice course? Click here to get on the waitlist, and be notified when it becomes available! 

In the meantime, you can join BVC Masterclass to gain access to Chelsea's monthly Mix Masterclass, which you can attend live or rewatch the recording. Click here to learn more about the all-new BVC Masterclass subscription.

If you're interested in diving deeper into this interview or exploring other interesting musical theatre conversations, check out the Broadway Vocal Coach podcast! Or check us out on Instagram, and get involved in the conversation! 

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