When is the time right for a singer to try belting? Top vocal coach John Henny answers three FAQs on belting for beginners.

Most contemporary singers want the ability to bring showstopping, high intensity to a performance through the art of belting. But the vocal technique is not without its risks.

Get it wrong, and a singer can quickly veer into shouty territory. And if things really go pear-shaped, there’s the possibility of sustaining a vocal injury (renowned belter Adele has suffered several vocal haemorrhages).

To get the lowdown on belting and how to help singers learn the skills to belt safely, the Singing Teachers Talk podcast spoke to top voice teacher John Henny.

He answered three frequently asked questions on the subject of belting for beginners.

1 At what age can a singer start belting?

“You can teach singers to belt safely at almost any age,” John says. “Not small children, but as the voice is developing, I think 11 or 12 is okay. And the fact is that if a child starts to feel this in their voice – it’s a thrilling way to sing – and they hear their heroes doing it, they’re going to start doing it.”

2 What qualities does a singer need before they can start to belt?

“Vocal balance,” John says. “You want the singer to be able to access their chest voice (lower register) and their head voice (upper register).

“For the female singer, it’s going to be a slightly different kind of head voice than in classical singing. It’s going to be a little bit closer to how a male tenor would approach that. And then you want to ensure that those transitions are working well so that they’re not trying to pull that lower register up into that bridge area and towards the head voice.

“Once the voice is functioning, and you’re getting that balance, then they can start to just feel about. Can I press into this or get a little more resistance at the vocal folds – that feeling of increasing that that closed phase that ‘mm hmm’ sitting down into it, and then begin to open up that vowel.”

3 When is belt inappropriate?

“I think belt is inappropriate if singers get more into that shout belt or push their voice because it’s the only way the notes come out. Also, if it’s not something that is being specified by the music or the lyrical content.”

Learn more

Listen to the full interview with John – it’s a belter (see what we did there). In the podcast, he also discusses:

  • The different types of belt.
  • The ideal position of the larynx during belting.
  • Vibrato and belt.