In this second part of our two-part series on belting, we’ll walk through practical exercises to get you exploring and developing control of your belt!
Belting. Part 2: Practical Tips to Develop Your Belting Voice.
In part 1, we outlined what exactly we mean when we are talking about belting, and what is happening physically. Keeping in mind that belting is an extreme use of our voice, so we need to learn how to control and manage its intensity! Here are three tips to do just that:
Make sure your upper register is STRONG!
Keep that tilt/stretch muscle (The CT) in shape, and be sure you’re using it often. If you’re constantly singing in your lower register with a “chesty” sound, then the TA muscle is the only one getting a workout! If one muscle set is developed more than the other, you’ll have very little chance of balancing out your voice – which is key to learning to control your belt intensity. Here’s how to give your upper register / CT muscle a good workout:
- Take a head-voice-friendly vowel like “ooh” as in “move” or “ee” as in “week” on your favorite scale. Focus on clarity and ease – get as much resonance as possible! Try to make it as smooth and strong as possible without pushing.
- Now try a scale that runs from top to bottom – any old octave/arpeggio will do, so long as it starts at the top and comes down. Same vowel as before, and try bringing down that “head voice-y” feeling ALL THE WAY down into your normal “chest” register. There’s no “correct” or “wrong” in terms of when you should be in one register vs. the other – rather CONTROL is key. This will feel REALLY weird! But it’s all about making the instrument do what YOU want to build strength.
- Dig into the recommendations in our previous blog on hitting those high notes!
Get familiar with that “Chesty” (more TA driven) sound.
Explore the heavier – talkier sound that leads to belting in your voice by using exercises that engage the TA muscle more.
- Start low in your voice, where it’s easy and feels natural. Try talking into a scale or melody in your speaking range, and bring that same spoken quality to your singing.
- Now take a sound like “ba” as in “bat” on a longer scale pattern (something that in one breath takes you through a large part of your range) and run up and down your voice. Get comfortable with that stronger, more intense feeling throughout your voice. NOTE: this does NOT mean I want you to scream as high as you can! Let your voice “transition” when it feels good, but keep the same vowel and approach (or as close as possible) in your higher notes that you had in your lower notes.
Play with volume.
It’s much easier to manage the intensity of your TA muscle at a lower volume. I liken it to *metaphor alert: balancing a boulder on a string. Belting is a fine line of muscular balance negotiating the efforts of the TA and CT muscles (as described in part 1), so it’s much easier to start learning that balance with a smaller sound, then slowly increasing your volume as you become more steady.
- Pretend you are standing at your old 90’s CD player and imagine you are slowly turning that knob up and down. Choose a neutral vowel (like “uh” as in “yum”) and sustain a single note. Begin super quietly (pp/pianissimo) and slowly crescendo (increase your volume) all the way to loud (forte) — or as loud as you can with control — then back down to pianissimo again. As you sing, keep your voice steady and balanced throughout – if you start to crack or hit a blip, reset and try again! This may not be the most exciting exercise you’ve ever done, but it will get RESULTS. So stay focused!
Work these tips at least 3 times a week (remember, frequency trumps length!) until they get really easy to do, and you will lay the foundation for a healthy belt. Remember, learning to belt in a controlled and sustainable way may not be easy, but it is definitely possible – you just have to put in the work!