Let’s be clear …. belting wrong will hurt, and if it hurts …. stop.
Let’s be clear …. belting CAN be done without harm and without hurting.
Let’s be clear … belting well takes a lot of practise. It is not for amateurs.
There have been singers belting for their entire career with no voice problems whatsoever. The problems come when singers don’t pay attention to the signs and symptoms that their bodies and vocal folds will inevitably give them if they are using poor technique. Poor technique symptoms are: hoarseness, fatigue, laryngitis, cough, tickle and breathiness when singing in head voice (alone). When these symptoms happen you need to refer back to paragraph #1…..stop and practise good technique.
The ability to belt properly can be learned….but not in a short amount of time. One must have great breath control, possess the ability to sing throughout their entire voice register without disconnecting (balance), and be able to keep the soft palate and tongue high enough to allow facial, mouth and head resonance. If you are working hard to keep your larynx down, or your tongue depressed, or the back of your throat open, (many trained singers have been taught this), then you may be working backwards. A contemporary musical theater/pop/rock belt requires your larynx to be neutral to slightly high. (Neutral as in your speech level, and slightly high because the root of the tongue is connected to your larynx. If your tongue is high, and you are projecting into your head register, the larynx is going to tilt and slightly raise. This is perfectly OK and necessary. Note the soft palate is very high, and the jaw and mouth are very open.
Have you noticed that the majority of singers who belt well are untrained. That’s because many singers are taught traits that get in the way of allowing belt to happen. Belting is a very free and expressive feeling…(and did I mention it doesn’t hurt?).
My favourite Broadway belter right now is Lea Michele. Check her out here.
Listen to her happy yell at 1:46. For those of you trying to learn to belt, this yell is something to practise. Note how free you feel when you yell like this. Notice the “cry” in her voice throughout the entire performance. Lea Michele is an Olympic vocal athlete; the creme de la creme. Do not try to match and copy her singing without knowing what you are doing. The ability to sustain a performance like this takes years of training and perfection.
Comments? Questions? Please let me know.