So, you’re a soprano trying to sing rock/pop or contemporary?
So, you’re a soprano trying to sing rock/pop or contemporary MT. If you’re training regularly with a coach, you are doubtless making some new sounds and getting good feedback.
But… adjusting to the sounds emotionally can be difficult.
Here are some top tips to help you find your mix, and then to LOVE it once you’ve found it:
How do I take my speaking voice higher without feeling like I’m pushing or straining?
Try adding a private laugh at the point where you feel uncomfortable – like the kind you have when someone tells you a naughty joke in the middle of a concert. You can also think about changing percentages as you go higher in your range (aka, 60% chest, 40% head), or adding a bit of whinge to keep the quality consistent and stable.
How can I get a ‘thicker mix’ without going into belt?
Begin in your speaking range. Think about a bored teenager, or someone singing flat. Say the days of the week as a bored teenager. Say it again and turn ‘Wednesday’ into singing without changing anything. Once you feel comfortable where you speak, try taking it higher up the range.
Vocalises: bottom/up v. top/down.
If you trained classically for any period of time, chances are many of the vocal exercises you trained started in a mid-high place in your range and worked in some kind of descending pattern.
However, if you’re serious about training a thicker mix, don’t be afraid to start where you speak and work upward by semitone. Sustaining a resonant tone without ‘taking the weight up’ is the name of the game, and you must first find the resonance in speech range in order to extend it.
I’ve trained breath support for years. Why doesn’t it seem to be helping me when I mix-belt?
When you find a thicker mix, your vocal folds need to stay together longer to produce the sound, and that means there’s less chance for air to exit while you’re singing.
So, if you try to sing while actively engaging your abs, you may find that the sound gets shaky or scratchy, and you will probably get tired pretty quickly.
Try exhaling a bit of breath out and singing a passage without breathing in, or putting your hand on your chest and breathing into your hand to sing the phrase.
As with everyone, this varies from singer to singer, so experiment to find the most comfortable effort with your breath on each pitch – the result might surprise you!
When I hear other singers “thick-mixing” it seems effortless, but when I try, I really have to work at it. Am I just doomed never to sing the songs I love?
Not at all!! The sounds which come ‘naturally’ to us are the ones we’ve spent the most time making. If you have trained seriously as a legit or classical singer, you can expect your thick mix to require a higher level of effort and concentration. It’s not unnatural, it’s just unfamiliar. High effort is very different from tension, and as you work with an expert coach, you will learn the difference. Stay with your practice regime and you will find that your ability to sustain the quality will require less effort over time.
Remember it’s really important to understand the difference between ‘good effort,’ and the excess effort and constriction that leads to vocal fatigue, so make sure the sounds you are making are always physically and vocally safe.
My coach says I’m really getting the style, but inside my head it sounds HORRIBLE! How can I learn to like this new sound?
Record yourself singing something in the style. As yourself these questions:
1. Does it feel comfortable?
2. Would I hire me to perform this role?
If yes, keep going – if no, go back to your coach, get some tweaks and carry on.
It takes courage to make this transition, but having the ability to sing in more styles equals more job opportunities, so give yourself time, be patient, and find a trusted coach to help you find your way. And above all else, KEEP GOING!!