Audition season has arrived and so has the belting! So, we thought it would be good to revisit some helpful hints for making that belt stronger and easier.
Remember that belting is much different from singing legit musical theater or opera. You can hurt yourself if you breathe the same way. Where the more legit stuff requires full contraction of the diaphragm and high lung volume, the beltier stuff needs more frequent breaths and less lung volume.
#1. Backwards "K" Breath
Say the word "cat" and find the hard "K" as you make that sound. Now do the reverse where you are intentionally inhaling on a hard "K" - you may feel some cool air on the back of your throat and a little opening in back. Allow your ribs to open as you take another breath on the backwards "K". Try a phrase of your song with this inverted "K" breath and see how it feels!
Another key component of belting is finding a high tongue position. The space in your mouth will therefore feel a lot smaller compared to the feeling of you singing "If I Loved You". There are a lot of good exercises for getting your tongue to release and stay high, but one of our favorites is using a tongue depressor.
#2. Tongue Push-Ups
Take a tongue depressor (or if you don't have one, the under side of a spoon works well) and place it flat on the middle-back part of your tongue. Push down with the depressor and then elevate your tongue against the resistance. Your tongue should move up and down a bit as if doing a mini push up. Think of it as weight training for your tongue - you are trying to strengthen the muscles that keep the tongue high (as it's often the case that the muscles that pull it down are stronger). Complete 10 reps and then try a line of your song. Make sure your tongue stays high and glued to your molars! If you're having trouble finding that high position of your tongue, say the word "hey".
When using our belt for any style of singing, we can use certain consonants to our advantage to create powerful bursts of sound. Diction is key in belting!
#3 Plosives and Nasals
Simply put, popping your plosives and elongating nasals will make your belt better. Use the /P/'s and /B/'s in your song to create a build up of pressure in your mouth and subsequently an explosive burst of sound. Watch Jessie J do this in her singing - her diction is top notch and she finds a great deal of vocal power just by using consonants. Ruthie Henshall is good example of someone who does this in musical theater.
Nasal consonants like /N/ and /M/ can be tricky to project so it's important to stretch them out. They can be using in finding a bright frontal focus of sound, just make sure there isn't too much space in your mouth and that your lips aren't too spread. If anything, imagine you just ate a sour lemon and place your nasals into that space.
This is the tip of the iceberg - there's so much to unpack and practice with regards to belting, so drop by the studio anytime to get your sing on!
And please...never push when doing these exercises. If you ever feel any pain when belting, you should stop immediately and consult your voice teacher.