My 7 Non-negotiables for Healthy Belting
Belting is one of the best things that you could ever do for your voice. I say that with such certainty because I do it every day with my own voice, and singers who want to learn how to belt or work on refining their belt come to me on Zoom to do so. Here are a few things that you must do that will make your belting technique effective, powerful and healthy.
- I always make sure I am completely hydrated. For me, this a gallon of water a day. There are of course different thoughts on water intake, but I follow the recommendations of “America’s Leading Healthy Lifestyle Expert”, Danette May -best clean eating, meditating and fitness program out there. (Please see danettemay.com.) This is CRUCIAL, especially in the cold winter months when heaters are blasting and the outside air is cold and dry with little to no moisture.
- I always, always, always warm myself up for literally just two minutes with what I call “Tarzan” yodels. (Carol Burnett was FAMOUS for her yodel, LOVE her!) I always start this in my low, connected, what I call “open chest dominance” and for me that is a low e below middle C. I am a low voice.
- I always warm myself up again, literally for just two minutes with some head dominance that I drop down into open chest dominance. I have created literally hundreds of exercises that I utilize.
4. I always utilize very little, tiny air flow. This principle of utilizing very little air flow comes from the teachings of great Germanic soprano Lilli Lehmann, which I have used as the basis of my own extension of this technique which I have created, called REST (REsonance, Sensory, Tactile). Learn more about Lilli Lehmann in this blog post about her.
5. It’s beyond important to always FEEL that chest dominance and NOT listen to yourself. You can’t hear yourself accurately because you are inside of your own structure. Helen Keller was blind and deaf but she learned how to talk from lessons with her beloved teacher Annie Sullivan, who taught her by sensory awareness and feeling. I am a huge believer in tactile and sensory learning.
6. Breath support is the MOST important element. I always work with a very low and expansive support on my breath that allows for very little air to be used. You must sing “on” the air, and not blowing “through” the air.
7. Never, Never, never go out of your chest dominance range in belting. Always determine your open chest dominance (no head voice included) belting range and you never leave that range when belting in open chest dominance. I stress that hugely. If I go out of my range, I will actually get a case of nodes. My open chest dominance does not go high, I only belt with open chest dominance to an “A” above middle “C” and that is OK!!!! I am a low belter.
My recording here of Randy Newman’s “I Think It’s Going To Rain Today” demonstrates my low open chest belt. There are all kinds of belters; low, medium, and high. Always DETERMINE YOUR CORRECT BELTING RANGE AND STAY WITHIN IT.
(Video source: https://youtu.be/cw1vlBi6mLQ)
Believe it or not, Classical singers make terrific belters, especially when they learn that they really do have a wonderful chest dominant voice, and when they connect that chest dominance into the head voice, it only brings great connection into the head voice.
Following and adhering to these 7 non-negotiables will assure success in your belting work!
Be sure to keep an eye out for my upcoming series of posts that will talk about each one of these 7 non-negotiables.