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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Female musical theater belting in the 21st century: A study of the pedagogy of the vocal practice and performance
by Roll, Christianne Knauer, Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University, 2014, 277; 3621794
Abstract (Summary)

The female musical theater belt voice has been heard onstage for almost one hundred years, yet the demands for this type of singing continue to evolve. While the style dominates Broadway, an understanding of successful teaching of the female belt voice seems to be lacking. Therefore, this study was undertaken to appropriately address the needs of female musical theater singers, and to establish effective strategies for teaching the female belt voice.

Individual case studies of four nationally recognized master teachers of female belting were created from observations in the studio, interviews with the teachers, and interviews with their students. Thirty-two hours of private voice lessons were observed with 18 female belt students in the studios of these master teachers in an effort to determine the extent to which they employed common techniques in the pedagogy and agreed on the characteristics of the female belt voice. Interview responses and field notes from the teachers and singers were analyzed individually and a cross-comparison of the data was analyzed for consensus or conflicting information on female musical theater belt pedagogy.

Interestingly, there was much consensus among the teachers on the physicality, sound, and strategies for female belting. Included in the findings were that the female belt voice is not a pure chest voice production, and development of the entire voice is key since working in head voice allows a female to create a lighter belt sound and to make the transition into the higher belt range. Distinct techniques for the traditional and contemporary belt voices emerged. The traditional belt, up to D5, uses more chest voice and full, open vowels. The contemporary belt, higher than D5, is produced with more head voice and closed, narrow vowels. Belting is considered speech-like and exciting, and is a joint process between teachers and students.

Based on this research, voice teachers working with musical theater students must be educated and proficient on the specific strategies and techniques of the evolving female belt voice. The female belt voice, though different from classical singing, does have its own set of techniques.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Goffi-Fynn, Jeanne
Commitee: Burton, Judith, Custodero, Lori, McCann, Lori
School: Teachers College, Columbia University
Department: Arts and Humanities
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 75/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Womens studies, Theater, Music education, Performing Arts
Keywords: Belt voice, Female musical theater, Female voice, Musical theater, Voice teaching
Publication Number: 3621794
ISBN: 978-1-303-93184-0
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