Autumn has been studying voice for over 10 years. She has had more than 10 teachers in methods ranging from SLS to classical to musical theater. Although she has more than enough range as a soprano (from E3 – E6), she has always struggled with her middle voice and her first bridge. She could never find the power and naturalness of tone she was looking for there. This is a necessity for her since most of the R&B and musical theater music she sings lives heavily in this range.
When I worked with Autumn, I found her biggest problems were singing too brightly, disconnecting from the body, and thinking her mix should feel like doing absolutely nothing. These mental hurdles have been the biggest for her to overcome since they had been engrained into her by most of her teachers for years. She had been focusing on trying to keep the sound so forward, masky, and light that it caused her larynx to sit much too high and tight, significantly thinning out the sound right in the meat of her voice.
All these years I’ve been trying to get the exact same pointed feeling that I feel in the higher range in my middle range — but that doesn’t work. What I discovered is that the middle range feels “fuzzier”. It feels like power, but it doesn’t have that clean concise feeling like in the upper range. It has a warmth and richness instead of a pingy sound.
The fuzzy sound to which she refers is just how it sounded in her own ear when she stopped singing so brightly and stopped trying to place the voice forward. She was reluctant to go to this sound initially just simply because of how hear ear perceived it. Recording herself helped change that perception.
I listened back to the recording and I realized it sounded good! It didn’t sound the way it felt. I thought it was going to sound muffled. But it sounded rich and creamy. It didn’t sound light. There was a weight to it. It felt substantial rather than light and airy, like there was power in it.
Once she began to find her real voice, she began getting a stronger connection to her body, associating that with her real voice.
My lower abs, back, and thighs were engaged.
The increased energy demands of singing with a full, robust mix also became evident to her. It’s not a passive, “do nothing” thing like she originally thought.
It doesn’t feel “light and easy”, but it doesn’t feel hard either. It just feels different. Your THROAT should be passive — that shouldn’t be doing the work — but your whole body is engaged.
With much work, Autumn has now arrived at the holy grail of technique — a full, robust mix in the middle of her voice. She now feels much more comfortable performing since she is able to express herself more completely. She no longer has to worry about lightening up to prevent herself from pulling chest; instead, she can just sing. She states:
The more I committed to the sound, the more chest engaged without having to try. I can just deliver the song to my audience.
You can hear Autumn performing live in the North Jersey/NYC area. For a list of her upcoming performances, visit her FaceBook page at http://www.facebook.com/autumn.hart963.