Belting

Belting Singing Voice Lessons

Belting isn’t really really a genre or style of singing, but a type of singing that is used in many different genres from Pop/KPop/CPop to Musical Theatre to Blues to some Soul-Jazz to Folk and many more styles.

At our singing lessons studio in midtown Manhattan or online via Skype or Facetime, I have a set of voice exercises and mini-techniques designed to get you to belting, even if it seems kinda hard now.

A lot of singers don’t naturally do the big-voice belting style favoured in some of the above genres, but belting and having a big sound is something that can be learned.  A lot of it actually has to do with physics and how to shape your vocal tract to reinforce the soundwaves you make vocally.

Belting has kinda a bad reputation with many voice teachers.  I’ve heard it back in the day when I was studying classical singing and also these days when I’ve seen people go on about singers like Adele and how they shouldn’t belt because it damages the voice and causes you vocal nodules (aka: vocal nodes).  I used to really believe that, as I came from a classical background originally.  But these days I use belting techniques myself and with my students and they not only sound amazing and have really strong voices, but they don’t injure themselves.

At the moment, all the non-belting people are going on about Adele and how her injuries mean she shouldn’t be belting.  As a singer in the limelight of the public eye, everyone is going to have an opinion about your vocal abililties and technique and tell you how they can live your life better than you. Most of them are going to try to leverage it into “if you studied ___(insert vocal technique)___ then you woudn’t have that injury.”  And certainly “proper” technique really reduces the wear and tear on the voice.  But as a listener, we like to hear someone really wailing on that high note.  It makes us feel good.  We wanna wail along with that person.  IMO the issue w Adele’s voice is very slight on that high end.  First let me begin by saying it sounds amazing!!!  It’s super fun to listen to. But I feel like she is very very verrrrrry slightly too heavy on that top end.  Even by just slightly lightening it up, which would not be noticable, it would take a lot of the strain off that voice.  If you are just slightly strained and then you sing a ton of shows all the time and every song has that same high strain thing going on – even just slightly – it’ll eventually mean you are at risk for a vocal injury.  By just not being so “heavy” on the top by even like 15%, it’d take the risk of injury in that voice way off.  There is really a reason people who study a long time (with good singing and voice teachers) get fewer injuries.  It’s a good idea to keep going to a vocal coach, too, even if you learn the basics of doing it early in your training.

In the old days, belting meant bringing chest voice up super high.  In the minds of many people who think belting is problematic, the perception of belting as “chest voice” is still how they think about it.  Of course the function of chest voice taken up super high is going to cause an injury.  In women’s voices, the chest voice belt goes up to no higher than maybe C above middle C (C5).  However, the so-called “contemporary belt” which is used in musical theatre belting and also in Pop music belting super high (hopefully) is not chest voice, it’s head voice.  However, it sounds and feels like chest voice (how it can feel is like a chest voice that goes up super high without it being “hard” or straining).  Sometimes, due to Seth Riggs and Speech Level Singing (TM) marketing campaign, this is referred to as “singing in the mix”  and the area of the voice when it’s functioning in the contemporary belt is called, by Mr Riggs and his devotees, “the mix”.  I disagree with almost everything Speech Level Singing stands for, so I do not like to use these terms as they are marketing terms – and very successful marketing terms as they pervade the way people “off the street” talk about singing, although not the way singing is talked about academically and medically, thankfully.  The fact is that head voice can be thought of as a way that vocal cords function and behave while in use and chest voice can be thought of as a way that vcal cords function an behave.  But there is no “mix” of head voice and chest voice that actually occurs in the middle voice.  And that is why I don’t like the terms, aside from them being marketing Terms promoting Speech Level Singing (aka: SLS) and Seth Rigg’s theories – because they are not accurate.  A paper came out a number of years ago and was published in a very highly respected singing journal studying SLS terms and ideas.  The paper found that, while many of the ideas discusssed in SLS are not accurate or true biologically or scientifically, the way that they are talked about can sometimes be helpful to people.  So if thinking of it as a “mix” is helping you achieve the contemporary belt, have it it, Baby!  Dive in there! But just know that in the industry of voice and singing trainging, it is called a “contemporary belt”. But it’s okay if, when I say contemporary belt, you wanna think “mix” (if it is helpful to you).

A number of my students do a really nice contemporary belt and I hope you can give a listen to them. Particularly, Kate Kim (see the section on KPop) has both a very nice (and light enough not to cause injury over time) contemporary belt and has also granted me permission to use her clips – so head over to the KPop section and check her vid out and get a link to her YouTube channel. I have some other clients who are killing it on the comtemporary belt, too, and we’ll try to get some vids put up soon with those, too.