What is Belting and How to Belt Your Singing Voice

What is Belting and How to Belt Your Singing Voice

Let’s face it:

Is there anything cooler than a singer belting an amazing high note?

And today with amazing singers like Bruno Mars, Sam Smith, Adele and Lady Gaga, it’s hard to find a great singer who can’t belt those high notes.

So there’s no getting around it:

If you’re learning how to sing, you need to learn how to belt.

But what is belting and how do you get it in your voice?

Today, let’s take a moment to define what belting means and what causes that amazing vocal sound.

Then I’ll give you 5 vocal techniques to belt your singing voice today.

And I promise if you follow these belting techniques, you’ll be amazed at how much power you can get on those high notes.

Ready to get started?

Let’s jump right in…

What is Belting Singing?

A man singing and playing guitar on stage with his mouth wide open

Before you start belting your face off, it’s good to know what belting is.

Here’s what it means:

Belting is a singing term that refers to singing notes in your head voice range with the power of your chest voice.

So what are chest voice and head voice?

Chest voice is an old term created by Italian singing teachers to refer to the range of notes at the bottom of your voice.

Teachers found that when you placed your hand on your chest and sang low notes, you would feel a vibration.

Try this right now:

Place your hand on your chest and say your name out loud at a strong volume.

Feel that vibration?

That’s chest voice.

Usually when you start singing higher in your voice, you will feel that vibration start to move.

As you sing higher, the vibration moves up to your neck and the back of your head.

So the old Italian teachers called the notes at the top of your range head voice.

Head voice is an old term created by Italian singing teachers to refer to the range of notes at the top of your voice.

Try this:

Place your hand on the back of your neck and sing an “ooh” vowel on a really high note.

Feel that vibration?

That’s head voice.

So now that you understand chest voice and head voice, let’s go back to the definition of belting:

Belting in singing means singing notes in your head voice with the power of your chest voice.

So how can you do that?

First, let me tell you the truth:

There’s a right way and a wrong way to belt.

So before we go through the exercises, let me show you what most singers get wrong when they belt.

The Right and Wrong Way to Belt

Man with his mouth open wide shouting

Want to hear something crazy?

Belting has probably been around as long as there has been singing.

That’s because belting basically means yelling.

And yelling is a very primal instinct. We yell when we’re mad, excited, and afraid.

So when people started singing, they would yell or belt notes in their voice to show emotion.

But here’s the catch:

If you belt incorrectly, it’s very easy to damage your voice.

If you’ve ever yelled too much in a short period, you know exactly what I mean. Your voice gets hoarse when you yell.

And belting in the wrong way can lead to hoarseness, nodules or even a vocal hemorrhage.

So let’s talk about what most people get wrong with belting.

What is Bad Belting?

Man on stage singing into a mike with red lights in background

In order to understand “bad” belting, you need a little background on the way the voice works.

Here’s what you need to know:

All singing comes from the vocal cords.

The vocal cords come together to resist the air from your lungs.

And when they resist the air through breath support, they create vibrations.

In order to sing low notes, your vocal cords have to be very thick.

Thick vocal cords will vibrate slowly and that’s how you sing a low note.

These thick vocal cords are also what created the chest voice when you felt the vibration with your hand.

In order to sing high notes, your vocal cords have to be thin.

Thin vocal cords vibrate faster and that’s how you sing a high note.

These thin vocal cords are what created the head voice you felt with your hand on the back of your neck.

Now that you understand how the chest voice and head voice are created by the vocal cords, let’s look at the definition of belting again:

Belting means singing notes in your head voice range with the power and strength of your chest voice.

So what do most singers do wrong when they’re belting?

Well, most of the time a vocalist will sing with too much chest voice on the high notes in their range.

And since the vocal cords are too thick for the note they’re singing, the extra pressure and tension can really hurt their voice.

So “bad” belting means basically “yelling” your chest voice into the head voice register.

And 99% of the time, if you belt incorrectly, the notes will be strained because the vocal cords are too tense for the note you’re singing.

So now that you understand “bad” belting, let’s talk about the right way to belt.

How to Belt (Without Losing Your Voice)

A young man in green light singing into a microphone at an angle

Here’s the good news:

Anyone can learn to belt correctly!

It just takes some practice and the right singing techniques.

So now that you know what “bad” belting is, let’s talk about “good” belting.

To understand how to belt correctly, remember the definition of bad belting:

Bad belting happens when you use too much chest voice on your head voice notes (i.e. yelling your chest voice into your head voice range).

But since the vocal cords are too thick for the note you’re singing, you’ll probably strain and sing off pitch.

In good belting, you’re singing high notes with the right balance of chest voice and head voice.

And if all the high notes have a good balance of chest voice and head voice, they’ll be incredibly powerful and clear.

That’s because if your vocal cords are the right thickness, you won’t strain or be flat!

Cool, huh?

How to Sing With a Mix of Chest Voice and Head Voice

A young blonde woman playing an acoustic guitar sitting on wooden steps

Here’s the bottom line:

Vocal exercises are the best way of finding the correct mix of chest and head voice on all the notes in your range.

And while we all want to sing songs better, singing warm ups are the best way of learning to belt.

So before you jump right into singing Adele or John Legend, try these exercises first.

Then, once you can hit those crazy high notes, it will be much easier to do it in the songs you love.

Here are the exercises:

Belting Exercise #1: The Bratty “Nay”

A young man with long hair playing guitar on stage

Can I tell you something crazy?

If you only do one exercise to help you belt, do the bratty “Nay”.

That’s because the bratty “Nay” has almost everything you need to learn to belt.

In this case, the bratty sound will help you hit higher notes.

And the “ay” vowel allows you to find your head voice more easily.

So if you want to learn to belt, start with the “Nay”.

How to Belt with the “Nay” Exercise

Here’s how you do it:

1. Say the word “Nay” (as in “Neighbor”) in a bratty way. The tone should be very buzzy and nasal-sounding.

To get the bratty sound right, try to sound like the wicked witch of the west.

2. Next, sing a comfortable note at the bottom your voice (try E3 for guys and C#4 for girls).

3. Finally, sing the bratty “Nay” on an octave repeat scale where you replace each note of the scale with the word “Nay”.

Here’s a cool video where I walk you through it:

How to Sing High Notes without Falsetto–Works for Guys and Girls!

You should feel that the high notes in your voice are already much stronger!

Belting Exercise #2: The Bratty “Nae”

A young black woman singing into a microphone under purple lights on stage

Now that you’re starting to sing those higher notes in your voice more strongly, let’s add even more power to your voice.

In the last exercise, we used the bratty “Nay” to help you hit higher notes.

That bratty sound will definitely help you hit those high notes with more power.

But now, we’ll change the exercise to sing with the more open vowel “Ae” (as in “Apple”).

That’s because open vowels like “Ah” and “Ae” will help you to find more chest voice.

And remember, belting means singing high notes with the power of your chest voice.

By the way, I’ve written an article on how vowels affect your singing voice. Make sure to check it out to see why these singing exercises work.

But for now, we’ll just change the vowel from “Ay” to “Ae” (as in “Apple”) to help you sing even stronger.

How to Belt with the “Nae” Exercise

Here’s how you do it:

1. Say the word “Nae” (as in “Nasty”) out loud with the bratty sound.

If you need help finding the right sound, pretend that you’re a little kid on the playground teasing with a “Nae Nae Nae” sound.

2. Next, sing the bratty “Nae” on a comfortable starting pitch (try F#3 for guys and C#4 for girls).

3. Finally, the bratty “Nae” on an octave repeat scale where you replace each note of the scale with a bratty “Nae” sound.

Here’s a video where I walk you through it:

How to Hit High Notes: 15 Exercises You Can't Live Without

It can be very easy to belt incorrectly on this exercise unless you’re keeping the bratty sound.

So as you’re singing through this exercise, try to keep the bratty sound on the high notes.

You won’t believe how much power you can add to your voice with this simple exercise!

Belting Exercise #3: The Bratty “Bae”

Young woman with her head tilted back singing into a microphone with purple lighting

Here’s the truth:

The bratty “Nae” won’t work for everyone.

That’s because in order to sing the “Nae” you’re adding a small amount of tension to your voice to get more power.

But for singers who are already a bit tense, the “Nae” will just make your vocal break worse.

So in the next exercise, we’ll simply switch the “N” consonant for a “B” consonant.

The “B” consonant adds more back pressure which helps the vocal cords stay relaxed.

And most of the time, just this little switch allows the voice to relax enough to hit those high notes better.

How to Belt with the “Bae” Exercise

Here’s how you do it:

1. Say the word “Bae” (like “Bat”) out loud in a bratty way. This time, enunciate the “B” consonant each time you say the word.

2. Next, find a comfortable note at the bottom of your voice (try F#3 for guys and C#4 for girls), and sing the bratty “Bae” on that note.

3. Finally, sing the bratty “Bae” on an octave repeat scale where you replace each note of the scale with the “Bae” sound.

Here’s a video where I walk you through it:

How to Hit High Notes: 15 Exercises You Can't Live Without

As you’re learning how to hit high notes, keep your focus on the bratty sound and the “B” consonant.

You’ll be amazed that even if you were flipping on the “Nae” exercise, the “Bae” keeps everything strong at the top of your voice.

Belting Exercise #4: The “Gug”

Woman in blue light performing on stage in front of a microphone

There’s no getting around it:

The “bratty” sound is pretty ugly.

That’s okay for now because we’re doing exercises, not singing on stage.

But as you continue learning to belt correctly, it’s important to work on exercises that are a bit closer to real singing.

In the last vocal techniques, we’ve used the bratty sound to help you get more power on your high notes.

We’ve also used vowels that already have some bratty sound built into them like “Ay” and “Ae”.

So now that you’re singing those notes better, here’s an exercise that uses a more normal singing vowel.

In the next exercise, we’ll singing the word “Gug” which has the power you need for belting with a more normal vowel.

How to Belt with the “Gug” Exercise

Here’s how you do it:

1. Say the word “Gug” (like “Gut” but with a “g” at the end) out loud at a strong volume. Enunciate the “G” consonant strongly.

2. Next, find a comfortable note (try E3 for guys and C#4 for girls) and sing the word “Gug” out loud on that note.

3. Finally, sing the “Gug” on an octave repeat scale where you replace each note of the scale with the “Gug” sound.

Here’s a video where I walk you through it:

How to Hit High Notes: 15 Exercises You Can't Live Without

As you’re singing through this exercise, make sure you focus on making the “G” sound each time.

You’ll be amazed at how much stronger those high notes become!

Belting Exercise #5: The “Mum”

A man with dark sunglasses singing into a microphone on a dark lit stage

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:

There’s a difference between exercise sounds and actual singing.

So now that you’ve learned to belt correctly with the “Nay” and “Nae” let’s do an exercise that’s even closer to real singing.

In this exercise, we’ll simply switch out the “G” sound for an “M” consonant.

And while that doesn’t sound like a big deal, it is.

That’s because in the last exercise the “G” sound gave your voice a lot to hold on to even on the high notes.

But with only an “M” sound for support, the “Mum” exercise is a bit harder.

And that’s a lot closer to real singing.

How to Belt with the “Mum” Exercise

Here’s how you do it:

1. Say the word “Mum” (as in “Mummy”) out loud at a comfortable volume.

2. Next, find a comfortable note at the bottom of your voice (try C3 for guys and G3 for girls).

3. Finally, sing an octave and a half scale where you replace each note of the scale with the “Mum” sound.

Here’s a video where I walk you through it:

10 Singing Techniques to Improve Your Voice

In this vocal warm up, the “M” is all that you really have to hold on to those top notes.

So as you’re singing through the exercise, try to keep an emphasis on the “M” consonant.

You’ll be amazed at how those high notes sound like your real singing voice and are super strong!

Congratulations

By now, you’ve learned what it means to belt.

You also understand the differences between good and bad belting.

And while sometimes good and bad belting can sound pretty similar, you’ve learned some tricks to make sure that you’re singing correctly.

That means you can keep building power in those high notes without straining.

But if you’re having a hard time with the exercises, don’t worry.

Singing with power takes time and practice.

So find an exercise that’s working for you and practice it daily.

If you’re looking for more online singing lessons to help you belt, check out my complete singing course Master Your Voice.

2 Comments

  • by Joe Vivion Posted June 12, 2019 10:05 am

    matt is so bad ass. these articles are gold. I dig the mum exercise bc its challenging and as it says, closest to real singing

    • by Matt Ramsey Posted June 12, 2019 10:36 am

      Thanks Joe! Yes, the “Mum” works so well for you because it reduces some of the strain.
      Keep up the great work!

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