I hear that more times than not...
"I need to learn to belt, they only want to hear belters!"
First - who is "they" and uhm, no they don't!!!!
Can a singer learn the mechanics of belt? Of course! Does it mean that they will be a "belter" in the type-sense? NO!
WHY? Because NOT ALL THEATRE ROLES ARE FOR BELTERS!!!!!!!!!! And sometimes, directors want to take a role a different direction.
Here's an example: A production of Les Miserables is auditioning. Girl after girl goes in for Fantine - screaming/belting/yelling. hmmm - let's look at the character: a young woman, a prostitute, a woman who has had a child and has given that child away for a better life; she begins to dream and remember and wonder....
And lo and behold, a singer enters the room and sings in a beautifully engaged mix - and finds nuance in her voice and tells the story and creates a character....and the CD and Director look up and sit back and put their pens down and LISTEN because it is TRUE. And when said singer is finished she is thanked for not screaming and for making their day.
Wow. Imagine that.
So casting directors want to hear what YOU do WELL!!! (and CDs correct me if I'm wrong please!!!)
Louder is not better. Belters are a certain voice type to go with a certain character type. Belt is not required for EVERY character in EVERY show for EVERY singer!!!
"They" do NOT only want to hear belters! They want to hear YOU and what you do well and hear you according to your TYPE.
Singers in the music theatre business who are pursuing this career need to DO YOUR RESEARCH. You need to STUDY your voice - learn what it does, learn how it does it, learn what it can do! You need to study TYPE, study STYLE, study theatrical device and what shows require what voices and what types!
You need to know HOW you fit into these things. You need to know how to say NO and save yourself; You need to know how to say YES and jump in!
There are too many people in this "business" wasting people's time. Either you learn HOW and WHY or do something else.
This business of music theatre and the craft of developing as a performer and many as artists is not American Idol. It is not instant, it is not for ratings. It is for REAL. It is not for dabblers or wanting to be a star!
You cannot DO without a foundation of knowledge under you. That foundation grows over TIME and EXPERIENCE. Developing a voice that is uniquely YOURS is critical for your longevity!
Do you know what your voice is capable of doing? Can you DO it? Can you summon it?
Have you claimed YOUR UNIQUENESS? Are you on your way to claiming it?
Or, are you just dabbling and making blanket statements and wasting everybody's time?
"They" - whoever is sitting at the table, doesn't only want to hear belters!!! They would love to hear good singing! PERIOD! They want to hear a singer who knows their voice and can deliver a song that is stylistic and shows a possibility! NOT ALL ROLES ARE FOR BELTERS!!!!!
Those of you who believe this, need to begin to discover what singing IS and how to do it.
Even belters should be able to find a "legit" sound on command. If they can't, their voices are not aligned. Simple.
Louder isn't better. Loud isn't strength. Loud isn't belt. If everybody belts, nobody does.
"They" want to hear what you do well. They want to hear your voice and see your type. They want to see an emerging artist and emerging performer who KNOWS WHAT THEY ARE DOING.
That demands consistency, discipline, devotion, passion and dedication. Pursuing a career in this business is not about dabbling or finger painting. Developing your artist spirit isn't about wishing for it. Building a voice and a reality of knowledge isn't instant.
It is REAL WORK. It is about asking questions. It is about BEING REAL.
"They" want to hear belters when the role demands a belter. "They" want to hear and see that you know what you are doing - otherwise - you will get a vacant smile and a dismissal.
Perhaps it's time to change the statement to "They only want to hear ME" - and if the role isn't a match, it's not because you didn't bring YOURSELF; they just need a different type.
KNOW WHAT YOU DO AND WHY YOU DO IT.
Educate yourself - find the knowledge, gain understanding. IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY if you say you want to be in this business. Find the teachers, the classes, the information and then WORK ON IT DAILY.
Then and only then will you see what you CAN do.
Susan Eichhorn Young
Susan Eichhorn Young covers all things voice—strong and sophisticated singing and speaking.
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