hard to tell where one ends and the other begins!
1. Breath Issues:
- Your inhale is wrong. If you take too much breath, you can cause tension in the upper ribcage. If you don't take enough, your ribcage won't be open enough for your diaphragm to control itself.
- You aren't supporting your 'easy' notes with enough power. They are weak and uninteresting.
- You aren't controlling your 'easy' notes. You may be allowing too much breath pressure to lean on those notes, pushing them off center.
Breath Fixes:Check your posture throughout inhaling and exhaling ... make sure you're staying flexibly tall, head balanced over your heels. Make it a habit to breathe into your lower abs and back, not your chest, so your lower ribs widen. Keep the bottom of your ribcage flexibly wide as you sing for control, squeeze your butt for power and pull- don't push - your voice to apply support.
A bonus cause and fix for breath issues: Pain. If you have pain in your upper spine, shoulder carriage or ribcage, seek out the cause and the fix at your doc, physical therapist, chiropractor, Alexander Technique or Feldenkrais practitioner.
2. Facial Language Issues:Most people are surprised at how facial language (or the lack thereof) affects the voice! To create richly resonant middle voice pitches, your voice wants access to movement. This includes lifting and morphing the ceiling of the throat channel, which won't happen without eye language. It also requires a flexible, movable jaw that can give the tongue a free ride, keeping the tongue root relaxed.
Face Fixes:To wake up and activate a frozen face, it helps to remember the raison d'etre of the voice: which is to deliver messages! Even if you're singing to a deaf person, they should be able to read your lips and your facial movements and understand what you're saying. This will give your middle voice the freedom of movement that gives those notes access to resonance placement where they sound best.
3. Register Mix Issues.Your vocal apparatus hasn't developed the flexibility, strength and coordination to create a continually changing mix of chest and head registers throughout middle voice. So, you bring your head voice down too far, and/or you push your chest voice up too far. In a well-mixed middle voice, the top of chest voice will sound a lot like the bottom of head voice. But Instead of mixing, your head and chest voices are separated by the frustrating crack we call a vocal break, and sound like they come from two different people. So...
- You compensate by singing what should be middle voice notes in head voice, and those notes sound weak, dark and hollow. This is tiring to the voice, due to the over-lowering of the larynx.
- Alternately, you try to sing those notes with unmixed chest voice, sounding harsh, thin and yelled. You over-raise your chin and larynx, interfere with the healthy tilting of the thyroid cartilage, tense your neck and throat muscles, and create vocal abuse which will eventually strain or damage your voice.
Mix Fixes:Train your voice! Yes, some people naturally develop a good mix, possibly from growing up in a family whose lineage includes professionally trained voices. But even they can have an off night of singing and develop counterproductive technique dysfunction. Vocal exercises and knowledge can grow, protect and maintain the health and ability of middle voice, and the rest of the range, too.
The Power, Path and Performance method I teach shows you how to power your voice path up and back before pulling through your face to mix your registers smoothly, create rich resonance with no strain and heal vocal breaks. Dramatic improvement is instant, and then you learn to make the techniques habit.
Think you can't do vocal training? No matter what your budget or time constraints, where there's a will there's a way. Of course, studying the free resources of this All Things Vocal blog is something anyone can do. Check out my vocal training packages on my website. Contact me if you'd like to discuss personal vocal lessons.
4. Vocal Cord Issues
Vocal Cord FixesUse common sense if you've been sick. Don't sing until it doesn't hurt your voice. Make sure you are well hydrated. Have throat soothers like warm herbal tea or diluted pineapple juice with you when you practice.
Don't worry too much about needing surgical intervention; most of the time, even with vocal cord damage, with good information and training you can take the pressure and strain off and the voice can heal itself. BUT... If in doubt, check it out! If your middle voice continues to be missing, weak or strained, go see an ENT doctor who specializes in voices to rule out anything serious, such as cancer, Laryngopharyngeal Reflux or Spasmodic Dysphonia.
Whatever the issue that is plaguing your middle voice, do get it conquered. Great vocal performance is NOT all about the high notes!