Knowing how to belt safely and sustain a truly powerful vocal sound is one of the most sought-after skills in singing. From Tina Turner to Beyonce, the ability to hit those big choruses can create the show-stopping moments which mark out great performers from the rest.
However, it’s important to bear several thing in mind when learning to belt in order to do so safely and effectively. Our Singing Tutor and belting expert Elliot Clay gives us his top tips to help you develop better technique.So get hydrated, do some star-jumps and get ready to belt like no-ones’s listening.
1. Don’t let the sound put you off. Belting could almost be described as something primal, so don’t worry if it doesn’t sound perfect immediately. It’s more important to build a safe and reliable technique and then go about “beautifying” it with vibrato etc further down the line. In fact, whilst it may seem counter-intuitive, silent practice is an efficient way to learn how to belt. By ‘cheering’ silently you get a chance to tune in to how it feels to belt and not be concerned with the sound you’re producing. It also means you conserve energy and aren’t asking your voice to perform constantly at a high level.
2. Make sure you’re completely warm and hydrated before belting. When you’re belting correctly a huge amount of muscles are working together in order to support the sound. Therefore, it’s imperative we’re completely vocally and physically warm before singing – even simple star jumps are great for energising and engaging the whole body! Also, maintaining hydration is essential for every day vocal health.
3. Don’t push it! Belting actually feels fairly easy once you’ve mastered it – it can just seem far from your default vocal setup at ﬁrst. In my classes I go over lots of exercises to see how we can monitor breath pressure, ensuring we’re not pushing excess air through the vocal folds – a common problem affecting all singing in general. One of the best exercises is sirening gently through a straw, making sure air isn’t coming through your nose. This may seem very difficult at first, but with daily practice you’ll find you push air pressure far less, especially during high intensity activity such as belting.
4. De-bug the myths! There are a fair few horror stories out there about belting that are simply untrue. In fact, belting is a completely safe and natural process that we all able to do. Sometimes, the thing most detrimental to “ﬁnding” your belt is the fear of belting itself. Trust that belting is a natural function and try to associate the sensation with an everyday activity such as cheering at a winning goal or calling to someone across the street. If you’re able to lay these preconceptions aside, you can feel reassured that your voice will manage, if you practice safe and sensible technique.
5. Take your time. Belting is a high energy, muscular activity. You wouldn’t sprint 100m to the point of exhaustion so never do the same with your voice. Trust that rest time is as important as practice time to let the effects of your practice be processed. Always notify your teacher if you experience any fatigue when singing (particularly belting) and stop. It should be high energy but totally pain-free!
If you’d like to hear more belting tips from Elliot then find out more about his Belting Masterclasses, here.
Find out more about learning to sing at City Academy here.