Belting

 

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“I’ve never been able to belt”…

Belting is the very first sound you create as a human, which we continue to make until socialisation occurs (EVTS, 2005). A lot of people are scared of creating this sound but why? It may be because of the multitude of myths connected to the production of this sound? Here are a few I’ve been told or heard in the past – Pre-Estill training.

  • Belting gives you nodules
  • Belting is dangerous
  • You need to take a big breath
  • Belting needs diaphragmatic support

So we’ve heard what people ‘think’ Belting is but what really is it? and how can we do it…safety? Belting is a very loud sound that is often associated with Musical Theatre, its exciting to hear in the theatre and utterly too loud for small spaces. When produced incorrectly this sound can be extremely dangerous.

So if Belting is unsafe, then how are these three amazing performers still performing? It’s because they are producing the sound safely.

So how can we do it safety?

 

 

As an introductory exercise, shout ‘YAY’. With your hand on your larynx make the shout again and notice the effect on the larynx placement.

Now, think of a very funny joke and hold the position of laughter and repeat the exercise with this same laughing posture.

Notice how your body reacts to support this sound (anchoring).

 

Retract the false vocal folds – Think of a really funny joke and hold the laughter position within the vocal tract.

Don’t tank up – Filling the lungs with air with only cause to much air pressure underneath the folds and resulting in unsustainable sound or the vocal just giving up.

High Velum – Lift the velum to create as much space in the mouth as possible.

High Larynx – The larynx will inevitably be high, the skill is to keep it high.

Engage and Anchor – The muscles around the neck, back and ribs all contribute to stabilising the larynx. Engage these to enable the larynx to remain high.

Relax the abdomen – This learnt behaviour will only cause unwanted air pressure.

Jaw and Lips – Keep in ‘Mid’ position (neutral…to you that is).

Tilt the Thyroid Cartilage – The will make the sound sweeter.

Practice, practice, practice! If you feel in danger at any point STOP and perhaps practice the preparation for the sound in silence.

Please comment with any good examples of Belting that you have come across. Mike.

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Jo Estill and how the Estill Voice Model was created.

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From the very beginning I felt it my mission was to show that everybody has a beautiful voice …all the research since has proved to me that everyone has the same equipment, everyone can use it the same way and yet there are no two voices that are alike..” Jo Estill

Jo was a singer, educator; researcher and scientist with the long-standing, burning desire to answer the question ‘how am I doing this’  (singing that is). I never had the pleasure of meeting Jo before she passed away in California on the 9th December 2010 but many that did comment on what a lovely warming person she was.

With the hunger to understand the voice Jo finished her performing career and went back to school, gaining a Master Degree in Music Education, where she found some of the answers to her question. In the Speech and Hearing Department Jo learnt about the physiology of the head and neck (the larynx, the ear, the vocal tract). This newly found knowledge prompted a career change from performance to voice research and teaching.

Jo’s research and achievements were recognised in 2004 with an Honorary Doctorate from East Anglia University. The Estill Voice Model has been taught around the world. In my opinion there is no other way to teach or understand your voice, the Estill Voice Model I believe erases the previous blurred understanding of the human voice and replaces it with pure facts.

So if you have ever had a singing teacher or vocal coach that asks you to feel your diaphragm or vocal folds than the answer is NO!

These parts of your anatomy have no sensory feeling, the Estill Voice Model will allow you to achieve your vocal potential through clear understanding and experimentation.

 

“ Everybody has a beautiful voice “ Jo Estill

Shorthouse, C. Jo Estill (1921-2010). Available: http://www.charlotteshorthouse.com/index.htm. Last accessed 12th October 2013.

An introduction to how the human voice works.

Michael Jenkins Vocal FoldsHello and welcome to the Voice in Context blog. This blog I hope, will reinforce any information discussed in our Tuesday afternoon sessions. It will provide links to digital resources and the occasional added piece of reading or research.

First of all, well done for todays session, I understand that it may have been a case of ‘too much information’ but DON’T worry as I will continually recap discussed topics as we move forward.

I am sure you’ll all agree that the human voice is a remarkable instrument, which far surpasses any other and that unlike any other instrument we can’t just pop out and buy a new one if ours breaks (well not yet anyway). Therefore, it must be said that vocal care is of paramount importance; here are a few tips to avoid vocal trauma.

  • Keep Hydrated – The European Food Safety Authority recommends that women should drink about 1.6 litres of fluid and men should drink about 2.0 litres of fluid per day. That’s about eight 200ml glasses for a woman and 10 200ml glasses for a man (NHS, 2013). Foods containing large amounts of water are also excellent hydration-conscious snacks, introduce some into your diet. Apples, pears, watermelon, peaches, melons, grapes, plums and bell peppers.
  • Allow yourself ‘vocal rest’ everyday, especially during period of extended use. For instance, whilst rehearsing for a show; instead of spending your lunch hour talking with friends try to use that time to relax both your body and voice.
  • Don’t clear your throat too often, when you clear your throat, you force your vocal folds together aggressively. Doing it too much can injure them and make you hoarse. Try a sip of water or swallow to quench the urge to clear. If you feel like you have to clear your throat a lot, get checked by a doctor for such things as acid reflux disease, vocal nodules and allergies.
  • When you’re sick, spare your voice, don’t talk when you’re hoarse due to a cold or infection. LISTEN TO WHAT YOUR VOICE IS TELLING YOU.
  • Avoid Battling with background noises, for example, speaking over televisions and crowds in night clubs.
  • Sleep.

Now…onto the production of sound and the great example of what the human voice can do.

Wow, isn’t she amazing! I wanted you to see this performance so that you could witness; that with great understanding and commitment, unbelievable things can be done…and not only at the vocal fold level. Rachelle’s initial production of sound is no different to ours…but her filter shape really is (we’ll have a discussion about this).

  1. Her diaphragm drops down, her vocal folds are then opened by her arytenoid cartilages, allowing her lungs to fill with air.
  2. Her diaphragm them relax’s back into its neutral dome like position, pushing the air back up the trachea (wind pipe) and through the closed vocal folds.
  3. The air passing through her closed vocal folds causes them to create a small gap and vibrate together, the rate of vibrations and length of the vocal folds determines what pitch she produces. If she was to sing middle A for example, her vocal folds would vibrate 440 times per second…Very Fast, so fast the human eye cannot see the movement.
  4. The air (or now sound) then travels from vocal fold level up through the laryngopharynx and into either or both the Oropharynx and Nasopharynx (all part of the pharynx hence the name).

Oropharynx-and-Laryngopharynx

When the air reaches the oral cavity (mouth) it is manipulated into different sounds or language, by the use of the tongue, which touches the articulators within the mouth, depending on the desired sound.  The soft palate or velum (GAAA) , hard palate (KA KA KA) , alveolar ridge (TA TA TA), the lips (PA PA PA) and the teeth (TH TH TH). You’ll notice that some sounds do not need any tongue movement for example FF and HAAA.

Articulate

The sound waves produced then escape the mouth and end up as electric signals in someones ears.

In a very small nut shell, that is the basics of how sound is produced, please read the following article before our next session and remember to look over your notes.

Keep checking the blog as I will soon upload the introduction to Jo Estill’s Model.

http://www.personal.rdg.ac.uk/~llsroach/phon2/artic-basics.htm

Good Night.

Mike.