When I was auditioning for colleges four years ago, I was lucky enough to have been offered a practice room 15 minutes before my audition at all of the locations. Of course, when auditioning to be a classical voice major at a college, you typically audition in the music building which contains an abundance of sound-dampening practice rooms. Then, when I was auditioning for Avenue Q at Rhino Theatre last December, I stayed in my car and warmed up before I went in. And then, just last month, I went for my first audition in New York City. Being that it was in a studio, I did not have the option of warming up (after the initial morning warm up) in a practice room or my car. I ended up going into the girls' bathroom just to do some sirens in private.
I came home after the audition and went on Facebook. In what was sure to be creepy proof that your phone listens to you and tracks your every move, an advertisement for Beltbox: "a portable voice dampener for performers" popped up. It claimed to let you "take the warm-up room with you" and is great for "warming up in the shower." Okay. I'm intrigued.
Three days and 50 bucks later, the Beltbox showed up at my door in an Amazon box. The back cover claimed to allow the user to:
The box came with the mask as well as a carrying pouch and a hands-free strap (not pictured). Excited, I promptly put it through a rigorous test by singing my whole senior recital program into it (not really, but basically). Here is what I've found:
For Musical Theatre and Contemporary Music:
For Classical Music and Opera:
The Beltbox accomplishes what it sets out to do: dampening your voice. I've used it a couple of times when other people were napping. When they woke up later, they did not report hearing my practice sessions. It has also made it easier for me to practice my belting due to the small pressure build up within the mask.
As to whether it is worth its $49.99 price tag, it depends. I think if you are a musical theatre performer or contemporary singing, this would be great for you. You'd be able to warm-up without disturbing others and hone your belting skills. It would also be great for high school and college students, or anyone living in an apartment. If you're a classical singer, however, I'd pass on this. The sound reduction is minimal and it messes with the breathe. Ultimately, I shouldn't have been surprised that this nifty little mask favors the contemporary singer. It is called BELT-box after all.