Associate Professor of Voice, Shenandoah Conservatory Artistic Director of the CCM Vocal Pedagogy Institute
Waist trimmer belts are sold as a weight loss tool in the fitness section of most big box retailers (order one here). The theory is that when wrapped tightly around the waist, the belt will cause an increase in body temperature beneath the elastic, which causes stomach fat to “melt away.” Although these belts probably do not perform as marketed, they are quite beneficial for respiratory training.
In the past it was not unusual for a teacher to place her hands on the student to help him feel where to expand when breathing. However, today many are hesitant to place their hands on a student at all out of fear that the touch will be misinterpreted. I’ve always thought if you can use a prop instead of your hands, it is better for all involved. That’s why I like the waist trimmer belt.
The belt allows the teacher to instruct without physically touching the student. If you have the student buy her own belt, she will drastically improve her practice of breath management outside of the lesson. There is no “correct” location for the belt; feel free to move it to wherever you want the student to feel expansion. If you want to train him to “resist the collapse” instruct him to keep the belt expanded. The elastic recoil of the belt will help him self-monitor more effectively than using imagery alone.
Do you have other props similar to the waist trimmer belt? If so, leave a comment in the section below. Also be sure to follow the blog (if you are not already) by entering your email address at the bottom right of this page. As always, thanks for reading and have a great week! ~Matt