Friday, October 16, 2009

What is Elusive About Belt?

Friday musings from Los Angeles...

Belt technique is just as "legitimate" as any other technique! It is a technique to access a certain sound to facilitate a certain style. It cannot be the base of your technique, but it can be an "icing" and be accessed once the voice is aligned and developed in a balanced way.

Belt is not bad. But we must know what belt is!!!

I have written a blog about belt previously - so feel free to read this one too!

Perhaps we should begin to understand what belt IS NOT. Belt is not yelling. Belt is not singing in your nose. Belt is not nasal. Belt is not pushing. Belt is not closed throat. Belt does not hurt. Belt does not wreck a voice.

True belt is based on a balanced instrument and a well-supported and engaged breath energy. In fact, the instrument MUST be balanced in order to find this fine-tuning we call belt!! Belt takes even more breath and more support suspension!!

Belt is "one gear" in its execution. There is not room for dynamic or gradation - it is 6th gear and go! It is brassy, without push; it is wide, without spreading; it is compact, without collapse;

Can I teach you how to belt by writing about it? Nope. You gotta come into the studio and WORK to learn how to do this properly. Reading about technique only gives you a portion of information. Hands on "doing" is how we integrate technical behavior. And hands on with a teacher who knows how to access it is key!

I often have singers come in who want to learn how to belt. When I hear them, I have to be honest: the voice needs further alignment FIRST before we begin the belt. If the basic neutral of technical behavior is not engaged yet, belt will be futile!! THIS is where singers get into trouble - trying to create a technical behavior before they are ready. It's not just for belt!

When we try to do something before we are ready, it can often lead to more issues - and with belt, those issues can be extreme!!

True belt cannot be integrated into an instrument that hasn't found balance yet!! Those who believe they are belting on an uneven foundation, end up creating a faux-belt which causes major vocal and physical issues. MTD - muscle tension dysphonia - is a major issue for faux-belters, when the laryngeal balance has not anchored correctly first. Register transfers can become frayed and fragile, and often "holes" in passaggio can occur because of tension, pressure, tightening and too much sub-glottal pressure. Faux belt can cause cord issues - inability for closure, pre-nodules, calluses, and the like.

So before you begin the journey of belt discovery, get that instrument aligned and balanced and suspended!!!! Let the belt be an extension of that alignment, not the primary development of your voice! Find a teacher who understands the physicality of the belt and how it grows from the neutral balance of your voice! Remember, belt grows OUT OF and is NOT IMPOSED UPON!

It requires careful, intense muscular development - and within YOUR instrument!! You cannot make your instrument into something it is not. But you CAN develop the potential of that instrument to its fullest if you are HONEST, FOCUSED, and ready to work at it!

Belt is not elusive. It is simply an extension of you - within the boundaries of your voice. Find it through healthy exploration so you develop a TRUE belt, not a faux one!


  1. I wanna send you a clip of me singing and see what you think!! I hope you will be inclined to hear! :) Just let me know! i just love this blog!

  2. Not to be a "Susan-Blog Nerd" and comment on every post, but I just had to respond. The way you got my voice aligned, balanced, and suspended caused me to experience this organically just the way you wrote about. When I began to experience that balance and alignment, there came a moment when something inside me said, "Ahhhh! Now I think I can go back and try belting again." I had not belted for years (and the years-ago belt had been an imbalanced one), but instinctively I knew that it was okay now. You know this. I showed you. It was a natural outgrowth of the work you did with me to balance the instrument. You didn't tell me, "okay, let's try some belting," and I didn't ask you. My voice just knew it was in the right place and that it could go there now. It's very exciting, and was an extra bonus for me, since my interest is in singing classically. Very cool!

  3. Rockii - glad you are enjoying the blog - and I'd be delighted to hear you. Email me the link!

    Fresca - you are by no means a nerd!!! Your comments are always welcome and full of wonderful information! I am thrilled you can access your belt again - in its truth!

  4. God I miss your classes! :o)
    jen sheasby