I’ve gotten a lot of feedback on my Facebook video post about the mixed-belt technique so I want to continue the conversation so more people can understand better what I’m sharing. Over the past couple years I’ve been surprised at the number of students who come to me who have not yet been taught the mixed-belt technique. Often they’ve gone to the final rounds of their Broadway auditions but not gotten the role, or they have done some Broadway or West End work and would like to find more consistent jobs. I also have students who sing pop or RnB music and haven’t been able to access the thrilling belt notes that they hear their colleagues hitting. After a few lessons incorporating the mixed-belt technique, students notice how their voice opens up and their high range becomes more accessible and easy to use.
The mixed-belt technique involves adding the sound of a baby crying, “wah,” to your vowels. If you’d like to hear what that sounds like, visit the video in my previous blog (link here). There are a number of exercises that build that “wah” sound into the voice. It causes a lift in the soft palate, and through that lift, the voice is able to mix the “head” and “chest” voice into one sound.
Before students learn the mixed-belt technique, they often get stuck in their “chest” voice and reach a note that they cannot go above without switching into their “head” voice or falsetto. They lose power when they make that switch and it takes the thrill out of their high notes. After a year or so of steady training to incorporate a good mixed-belt technique, that switch goes away and their higher notes are truly thrilling and easy to access. (That’s not to say that progress can’t be made sooner for some singers already far along in their training).
I myself didn’t learn this technique until after I’d made my second album, and was introduced to it through my excellent teacher Don Marrazzo, who is now the head of the voice faculty at the Amsterdam Conservatory. We worked on this technique for six months until I could really mix the head and chest voices, and another couple years perfecting all different aspects and sounds of the belt. I use the voice on all of my performances of my original material and, yes, in my teaching.
I’ll upload more videos so that you can understand the technique better, and if you are interested in training the technique, please do give it good thought. By far the very best way to train the technique is one-on-one private lessons. It is an investment for sure, but you need a teacher to assess your unique needs and show you exactly how the techniques work. If you’d like to learn the mixed-belt technique, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I teach in New York City and Wilmington, Delaware, or over Skype.
Wishing you happy singing!