Belt Your Heart Out

Create those show-stopping notes without stopping your voice –says Rachel Lebon

Singers project a wide spectrum of human emotion from anger to jubilation and the flood of emotions that lie in-between.

One of the ways to do this is through “belting”.

One might belt in Musical Theatre or when competing with electric guitars and instrumental backup – belting can be a part of many musical genres.

This vocal intensity can create some incredible musical moments – but in order to enjoy vocal longevity, it is essential that we make these moments in a healthy way.

What NOT To Do:

When you’re projecting, there’s no need for:

• Pushing from the throat and cracking on high notes
• A lifted chin, head forward and neck muscles bulging
• Abrupt shifts in quality and resonance (from “chest” to “head” voice)
• Throat resonance rather than mask (or, face) resonance
• Straight and harsh tones; with no dynamic variety or control

What To Do:

Here is what you are looking for with strong projection:

• Initiation and coordination of words and phrases with the breath.
Exercises: Light staccato hums on 1-2-3-2-1, 1-3-5-3-1, and 1-5-8-5-1 to achieve sharpness without a glottal attack. This also can facilitate flexibility and agility.

• A resonant, speech-like quality
Exercises: cat-like meows on 1-3-5-3-1, siren glide

• An open throat, with the arched palate and jaw free
Exercises: 1-3-5-3-1 on “ga” or “caw”

• Vocal Extensity (depth of tone), a soulful sound that coordinates with the lower back muscles:
Exercises: Say “Mmmm, Mmmm” or “Whoa Yeah!” as if you’ve spotted someone really cute, sensings the lower back and side muscles move out and a lot of pitch modulation in the phrase.
Exercises: 1-5-1-5-1 on hum or “Whoa” done with style and attitude.

-Rachel L. Lebon

My Reactions to This Week’s Peer Review Vids

Kauyer Lor – Kina Grannis Cover

Kauyer – your way of relating to the camera was effective – your appearance, smile, eye contact – overall, a fine performance. Your higher range sounds a bit breathy and undeveloped, so, while you’re singing in your speaking range, it doesn’t hurt to develop your entire voice’s possibilities in dynamics and timbre. Do pay close attention to guitar tuning, particularly if you use a guitar capo, as one string was particularly flat. You might want to hold the final word (“to”) slightly longer, and stay in the moment more before you tap the guitar and break out of performance mode. At only 16, you have so many avenues and possibilities to explore. Fine talent, fine potential, nicely packaged vocally and instrumentally.

Laurence Trailer – Take It To The Heart (original)

Lawrence – you have an engaging voice and I liked the idea of using a live backdrop. You mention that you are gearing up for studio work, so here are one or two things that might help. When you are sustaining notes, have a slight change of attitude about every 4 beats or so which will motivate a subtle change in timbre, justifying the reason why you’re holding that note/thought. These subtleties are really audible in the studio. Also, include soft and tender vocals in sections, with subtle changes in timbre that are not afforded you outdoors. One comment on your style – however, I am basing this on hearing only a single tune – if you’re experiencing a consistent rasp in the voice, it might suggest some voice issues. Might want to check it out. Well-done and best wishes for the studio!

-Rachel L. Lebon, Phd

Rachel L. Lebon, Ph.D. has been a professional vocalist and studio singer in Dallas/Ft. Worth, Nashville and Miami. She was on the faculty at Belmont College and is currently at the University of Miami, has toured toured world-wide with “Tops in Blue” and on a State Department tour of the Soviet Union and Portugal. Rachel is the author of two published books and conducts lectures, symposia and adjudication worldwide on vocal pedagogy and voice disorders.