More on Belting

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.

There’s good belting….and there’s bad belting

Bottom line…..good belting doesn’t hurt. It has a sweet edge to the sound. The larynx is tilted allowing the cords to close and stretch while remaining thick.

On the other hand, bad belting is usually pitchy and lacks “emotion”. A bad belt is simply yelling on pitch. There’s nothing musical about yelling on pitch without control that comes with proper belting. When you belt with thyroid tilt and just the right amount of breath pressure and emotion, you get a fabulous sound that you can control from the softest of soft to the loudest of loud.

My favourite theatre belters … Lea Michele

Check out Ted Neeley … watch at 6:00 minutes

Note: He`s over the top here with distortion and extreme sounds….but this man can handle it. I`m sure he has built himself up and saved for this moment of such raw emotion.

Favourite pop singer belters: Adam Lambert and Celine Dion.

Favourite country singer belter: Carrie Underwood. I can`t think of male country belters right now………Hmmmmm, who do you think. Let me know.

Favourite female rock belter: Ann Wilson from Heart

Stay tuned …. more on belting on future blogs:)

Speech Level Singing versus Estill Voice Technique

One of my goals is to share with you the similarities and differences with Speech Level Singing and Estill Voice Technique.

They are both great voice methods, and there is something to be learned from both. In its’ simplest form, SLS is one recipe among the many Estill Voice Technique possibilities.

I love SLS because it balances the voice, which I think is an important element of good singing. What I don’t like about SLS is that it doesn’t allow the commercial singer to learn how to belt or to have more “chest” in the mix. My SLS lessons strengthened the overall balance of both my registers…chest voice and head voice. But, my coach continually had me cutting back on my chest voice in my mix (near high C for instance). I could do this at his request, but it left me wondering where is the “me” in my voice. I needed to “belt” out my high C’s (and I’m in a mix!) when I wanted. I really felt the SLS method let the performer in me “down”.

With Estill voice training, you learn voice qualities….speech, sob, twang, opera, belt, and falcetto. SLS talks about a “neutral” larynx, while Estill recognizes that the larynx moves up and down and tilts according to the sound you want to make.

This is an important point. The larynx can tilt and move up and down safely, depending on the sound you wish to make. SLS leads to confusion about the larynx when they draw so much attention to it remaining “neutral”. The larynx cannot remain neutral in rock singing or musical theatre where the singers needs to give a belt sound (*note: I am not referring to the Estill version of belt here). These sounds can be done with freedom and good technique, but the larynx is slightly raised. Note: that if the larynx is too high, you will not be able to transition well into head voice, therefore, you cannot mix.

But, singers beware. Belting correctly is not easy to do, however, it is possible!  Lea Michele (musical theatre), Steven Tyler (rock), and Carrie Underwood (country). All these singers have something in common. They are balanced, and they are able to take their singing voice to the extreme …. called belting.

Belting well simply means a singer is using relatively thick folds, possibly has a sob quality in their voice, and their tongue may be slightly raised (this may alter the vowel sound). Belting requires optimal breath control. In other words, the ability to control the release of breath under great pressure while resonating in both the head voice and chest voice with thick folds. Belting is indeed a great “talent”.

Questions? Comments? Please leave them here.

Ladies, we have double trouble

I see this time and time again, and I just have to write about it…. again. I had another female student today with a fabulous head voice, that she could carry down to her “belly button!”

This is such a familiar trait of female trained voices. The throat is wide open, the larynx is low, and the tongue is nicely placed between the two back teeth. Perfect, right?

Here is the problem. These ladies want to sound like Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Carrie Underwood and Lea Michele. I’m sorry, but the set-up mentioned above is not going to get them there.

If you read my previous post about “from the bottom up” then you will know exactly what these ladies need to work on…..their chest voice starting from a speech level coordination.