Ever feel like you have two completely different voices battling it out inside you?
I grew up as a classically trained singer, and in my spare time I listened and sang along to a lot of pop, RnB and gospel music – all the divas. For years, it felt like I had two completely different voices.
My ‘classical’ voice was light, airy – the kind of voice that makes old ladies go weak at the knees… “You sing like an angel…” I was told I was a soprano, and always sang the high part. I could reach high notes, and was rarely required to go lower than a middle C. As a result, my lower range was weak and wimpy.
My ‘pop’ voice was strong, gutsy, and maxed out about an octave above middle C.
So what was happening? First, a little anatomy lesson:
Every voice has two elements – head voice and chest voice.
Your vocal cords sit inside your larynx and are controlled by 6 groups of muscles. These muscles help the cords ‘zip’ up and down to reach certain notes.
Head voice is light and airy. In head voice the vocal cords are thin and elongated, and zipped up, so the air coming up your windpipe flows through a small hole between the cords and resonates in your head to create sound.
Chest voice is the power house of the voice. The vocal cords are thick and open, so the air coming up your windpipe flows through a large hole between your vocal cords, and the sound resonates in the chest.
So far, so simple. So what was my problem?
The problem was that though I had access to both head and chest voice, there was no strong bridge between them.
Every voice has areas known as ‘bridges’. If you’re from a classical background, you may have heard them described as a ‘passagio’. That’s just Italian for bridge. Bridges occur approximately every octave in the voice, and it’s in these areas where the muscles controlling the vocal cords interchange to allow head and chest to mix. The trouble is, if these muscles aren’t trained, they don’t know where to go or what to do. Result? Your voice falls apart, usually on a crucial note.
A healthy voice can mix freely between head and chest voice, combining different proportions of each for each individual note.
Maybe you feel like I did, that you have two voices which seem totally separate. Or maybe you only have head, or only chest. The solution is to develop a healthy mix voice. For more information on mix, and vocal bridges, see our podcast at www.helpmyvoice.com
If you’re ready to start finding your vocal potential, come and train with me at The Voice Club. We offer private coaching and group classes to singers of all ages and abilities. Or, if you have a specific question about your voice, email me directly.