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Classical Singing To Musical Theatre


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#1 keeponsinging

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Posted 07 March 2008 - 21:19

Hi,
I am having problems with singing musical theatre!! I have has singing lessons since yr 7 and am now in sixth form. I used to do a lot of musical theatre in the earlier grades but now i am doing grade 8 and for a long time now have been doing a lot of classical and opera stuff. I am singing a musical theatre piece in my AS drama performance and am finding it really hard to sing even though the level is very low! What techniques can i use to sing it? its really frustrating because i sound really bad!!! Please help. Thanks in advance
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#2 Dugazon

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Posted 07 March 2008 - 23:44

From a singing teacher's and a personal point of view (since I have had exactly the same problem many years ago wink.gif ) :

1. There a voices who are naturally better equipped for one or the other, but you still can learn both to a certain extent.
2. If you sing mainly classical, your vocal placement will be a different one from Musical Theatre, the resonances are different ones. You also sing in a usually higher tessitura when you do classical (soprano tessitura in Musical Theatre is usually mezzo tessitura in classical, real Belter repertoire would be like alto repertoire in classical or even lower), which means that your vocal folds respond in a different way, because you sing with more weight.
3. If you constantly change between Musical Theatre and classical, you will usually feel confused, and it takes years of training to do both sort of (!) equally well, although I personally don't know anyone who does both equally convincing. This is why I put my main focus on Musical Theatre at some point - you simply have to make a decision. And I have a naturally very classical voice, so Belt an Mixbelt were (for me) lots harder to learn than classical placement. Still I enjoyed it more, because I love Musical Theatre, dancing and acting, and this was what I wanted to do.
4. Making a decision doesn't mean you cannot sing the other, but you will have to sacrifice a bit of authenticity.
5. If you want to prepare a Belt- or Mixbeltsong, you should do this under supervison of your singing teacher. If you don't do it properly, you might even cause harm. There is only one advice I would be willing to give over the Internet: Think more of speaking than of singing, and take your speaking voice as the base of your singing (this has neither to do with speech level singing btw., nor with pushing your chestvoice up).

The rest should be done with your singing teacher. And another thing: If you really want to belt or mixbelt, find a teacher who KNOWS something about it. There are singing teachers out there who'll either tell you that belting causes damage (which is rubbish, it only causes harm if not done properly with no support) or don't have a clue how to teach it because they only sing classical themselves and have a completely strange and wrong idea about Belt and Mixbelt in general ...
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#3 jod

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Posted 10 March 2008 - 11:11

As a teacher, I have to swap between the two to demonstrate.

Classically I'm Lyric-Coloratura Soprano.

Thank goodness I've got some low notes.

All the Passagi are in the same place that is because they are individual to each persons voice, however where you place your voice is completely different.


For a classical singer everything is about getting that BEL-CANTO sound, that ring from aa high soft palette and a feeling of the whole head ringing and everything hinging from there and blending through each passagio and opening and broadinig no lower than the neck, even in "chest register" which is hardly touched.

From the intitial "float" sound the aim is to "ring"

Musical theatre is different. The initial float sound should still be your aim, but placing ins much further forward. Your head voice is "in the mask" a placing that feels amost two inches further forward than your face. IF AT ANY POINT YOU CAN'T RETURN TO FLOAT THEN YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG.

You mix down into chest voice which you really feel in the chest. You never bring chest up. Every note is always places as per where your voice holds that note and you find that note on your mask.

If I look through my diary and know I'm singing Belt and Mix, I have to ease off the Classical practice a little that day and do a belt and mix warm up.

The object is to take care. At 16 you are unlikely to have working ranges of 3 octaves as your voice is not going to be that well developed. If you are naturally a Mezzo, having a go under supervision at a belt and mix style is unlikely to "ruin your Classical technique". However I waited until I was 25 before establishing both so that I wasn't likely to ruin either.

The rules Kids: Natural Voice
Teenagers Natural Voice and a bit ot either classical or Musical theatre depending what they want.
Adults: what they nee.

Oh Its so nice to look at my diary and think, great I'm teaching Panis Angelicus this evening this lies nicely on my voice. However as a teacher you do find you are practising away at the Rachmaninov Vocalise, and the next thing you do is teach "Luck be a Lady" - and I want the right style, Like Brando not Sinatra.
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#4 Dugazon

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Posted 10 March 2008 - 13:21

QUOTE(jod @ Mar 10 2008, 11:11 AM) View Post

The object is to take care. At 16 you are unlikely to have working ranges of 3 octaves as your voice is not going to be that well developed. If you are naturally a Mezzo, having a go under supervision at a belt and mix style is unlikely to "ruin your Classical technique". However I waited until I was 25 before establishing both so that I wasn't likely to ruin either.


Whether you can or should belt or mixbelt has really nothing to do with your voicetype. It is not a higher or lower risk for a soprano than it is for a mezzo. There are high voices which are very good, almost natural, belters, and lower voices who will always struggle.

The ability to belt or not to belt has very often (apart from a natural ability which some people have and others don't have) to do with psychology. Using a belt-sound is sometimes still deemed "vulgar", and in some cases, it is hard work to show people who always want to sound nice and polite how to do it right. How will you teach someone to access their speech level if they are even too scared to raise their voice?

What jod descibes as Belt is really Mixbelt (or even Twang), which I would think to be the better option if you would like to do both classical and Musical Theatre.
Strong or heavy Belt is something completely different ...
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#5 Guest: lucky045_*

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Posted 10 March 2008 - 17:25

I'm sorry to hijack a thread slightly, but I've become slightly alarmed reading this... My voice, the way it sounds etc, changes when I sing musical theatre, pop music, classical... to sound the way I want it to so it fits with the genre... So I don't sing musical theatre in a classical voice etc... I belt - I don't know what mix belting is, but I do belt, and I support it in the same way I'd support my normal voice (which I'm probably not articulate enough to explain etc).

Thing is I mostly sing classical music with my teacher - I'm not sure she's heard me singing anything else, and having read this thread I've become worried that by switching like this I might have done my voice some damage... I've never been trained to switch, or to belt it's just something I do... how can I make sure I'm not hurting myself?

Also, what is mix-belting, out of interest?
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