Saturday, November 9, 2013

Is Belting for You?

Over the past couple of weeks, I've been working with the 4th and 5th grade students at my school on songs for our upcoming Christmas production.  I have been blown away by the talent I've heard from these young singers!  It reminds me of my own budding enthusiasm for performing when I was their age.

Last Friday, I worked with two girls who each had her own solo.  Both had absolutely terrific voices and beautiful tone and pitch to match.  But I also thought later about how each had unique qualities that made up the timbre of their one-of-a-kind sound.  One girl could project very well and seemed to have no trouble belting her higher notes loud and clear.  The other girl had a lovely tone, but a much softer voice.  She did not belt, but instead used a very warm, soothing tone.  Both of these girls have talent; both have very different voices.

In describing my own singing voice, I would probably favor the second girl described above more than the first.  I did not grow up comfortable with belting and therefore grew far more comfortable singing in my head voice with the aid of a microphone.  Other people that I studied with in college had been using their belting voices all their lives and were more than comfortable letting the notes ring out deeply.

From what I've observed, it appears that it's easier to be a belter if you've been used to singing that way from childhood.  If you haven't, belting is certainly a technique that can be learned, but must be done so in the presence of a skilled vocal coach who knows how to train you properly.  Fair warning: using a belt voice with an improper technique will curtail your singing career quickly because it can put extreme strain on your vocal cords.

But what if you aren't a belter and don't think you can master the technique, or rather don't want to risk putting your voice through unnecessary strain by belting incorrectly? You can still seek to fine tune the beautiful, unique parts of your voice that are your strength.  There is nothing wrong with not belting.  Look at Dia Frampton, the runner-up of The Voice several years ago.  She is not a belter, and yet her voice obviously had the chops to beat out a boatload of belters.

Every singer has something unique to offer with his or her voice.  Whether it's belting or singing with a gorgeous head voice you like to use, don't be afraid to be an original!  This world has enough copycats as it is!

Happy Singing!