Response to Belt/High Belt Survey

My response to a NATS survey about belt/high belt singing:

My view is that belt/high belt/chest mix/head mix are not fundamentally different, but differ in their ratio of CT to TA and open/closed quotient– there are grey areas where these registers may overlap depending on the aesthetic of the singer and/or listener, which is one reason there is so much disagreement and controversy on the topic of registration. Throw in resonance variables and the confusion is compounded– how can we verifiably separate, in our ears, components of the sound that are truly due to registration– at the level of the vocal folds– and which are resonance– timbre components added after the phonatory event? The answer, of course, is that we can’t, especially in view of recent findings that suggest that vocal tract configuration affects phonation in complex ways. Nevertheless, I continue to teach from a functional standpoint, under the assumption that training the vocal musculature (strength, flexibility, balance, stamina) is more fundamental (and also more tangible) than endless resonance work. I also find that students respond to athletic analogies of practice and training better when we work with the muscles, and too much resonance work encourages many students’ mistaken idea that it’s possible to forgo rigorous practice in favor of a “magic button” vocal tract shape. That’s not to say that resonance doesn’t have an important place in the studio– simply that it should come after the voice is fairly well balanced in terms of registers.

Addendum: I should probably add that breath work is even more fundamental than phonatory function. So, the order of training follows a logical progression: excitor, vibrator, resonator.