How Long Will It Take Me to Learn to Belt?
Most of my contemporary students have one main goal - to belt like a pro.
We've all wished that we'd one day wake up with the belting ability of Jennifer Hudson, Freddy Mercury or Idina Menzel, but unfortunately we've gotta work for it!
Belting or reaching any of those high notes in your chest mix takes a lot of time, energy and practise. It's important not to rush into songs that are too advanced for you because you'll end up constricting, straining and losing your voice or getting a sore throat.
If you feel any tension or soreness when practising a song, your technique is not quite up to that song just yet (notice I said YET, we'll get you there).
There are necessary technical aspects you need to be able to control before you can master your belt.
Breath control. If you're letting too much air leak out through your tone, the vocal cords won't stay together as you go higher in your range and you won't get that crystal clear strong tone you're after.
Support. This is where the power of your voice comes from, NOT your throat. If you don't have enough support you will feel as though you're yelling and your voice will become tired and hoarse (something no singer wants).
Placement. If you are singing too far back in your throat or mouth, the sound will become swallowed and it will be a struggle to project as you go up through your chest mix range. You will find that your vocal break becomes more apparent.
Lack of tension. If you're tightening your jaw, shoulder, neck or face you will find that the sound becomes restricted and that your resonance won't be as full.
The ability to blend your chest and head registers. If you pull your chest voice up too high you will feel strain and tension, if your voice flips into a more heady tone it will sound too weak for a typical belt. We need to lighten off on the heaviness of our chest voice and create a strong head voice which will support a healthy mix of the two in that middle section of the voice.
These are the main checkpoints that you'll need to reach before tackling belt and each step may take weeks or months depending on the amount you practise, how focused you are when doing so and how often you consult your teacher for corrections.
Breath control, placement and lack of tension are usually the quickest to grasp but strengthening your support and getting a feel for how to blend the registers will take a few months at least.
Once you have a few notes coming out well in your belt register, you'll want to add to that.
Take it one note at a time. Find songs that are a single note higher in your belt range and approach with caution.
If you're finding that tension or soreness is coming into play in a practise session, stop and analyse what is happening and try again tomorrow.
Don't get discouraged, you can get there! It simply takes time, patience and focus.