Why Do I Need To Warm-Up?
The most common misconception that many people have towards singing is that it relies solely on natural talent. The truth is that singing, like CrossFit or dancing, is a physical activity that needs careful muscle training, control, practice, and proper maintenance.
- Much like any exercise, warm-ups increase blood flow to the muscles that affect your vocal quality.
- By doing warm-ups, you will be clearing out mucus secretions that build up on your vocal folds.
- Voice warm-ups make your mixed voice and transitions smoother.
You are probably wondering; Do I really need this? I mean I do not see my favorite singers doing this on stage. That is it! On stage, you would not see your favorite singers warm-up because they have already been spending, at the very least, 30 minutes of their day to warm up so they can put on a perfect show!
Before Your Voice Exercises
While warm-ups are crucial to maintain, protect, and improve your voice, there are things you must know before you dive right into it.
- Take 30 minutes a day for vocal warm-ups. The best singing warm-ups should take roughly half an hour.
- Not too short to ensure that you are prepared.
- Not too much that you strain your voice.
- Put your focus on doing the exercises correctly. Doing it wrong might lead you to develop some unhealthy singing habits. It is important that you put your mind into it.
- Have water handy. Lukewarm water is a singer’s best friend, refresh and soothe your vocal cords by hydrating every now and then.
- Get a good night’s rest. A singer’s lifestyle must be healthy to avoid getting sick. A good night’s rest is just one of the many things that contribute to your vocal health.
- Ensure that your voice is healthy. DO NOT warm-up an already strained voice. It is better to wait until you are feeling better than to cause further damage to your voice.
- Adopt proper posture. This helps you breathe easier and makes the projection of your voice better.
- Observe proper breathing techniques. Breathing techniques will not only help stimulate your vocal cords but also help you to sustain your notes longer.
- Breathe through your nose and exhale through your nose and mouth.
- Breathe into your lower lungs. You will feel something constricting around your abdomen and that would be your diaphragm. Try to push it out as you breathe in.
- Avoid raising your shoulders when you breathe in. Keep them as level as possible.
- Relax and remove the tension from your body.
Bonus: Try these breathing exercises from this website (1) that will not only help you breathe better as you sing but also improve the way you sustain your notes.
8. Relax your jaw. This will allow you to go through the exercise with ease, and even help improve your diction and tone.
Alright, now that I have given you the benefits you will get when you start warming your voice up daily as well as some useful tips to consider before you start your vocal exercises, let us get to the actual warm-ups.
1. Body Stretches
- Stretch your neck. Tilt your head up as far as it can go, then down, then to the left and then to the right.
- Shoulder Rotation. Rotate your shoulders forward and then backward.
- Yawning. Flex and relax the muscles around your jaw and cheeks.
- Roll your tongue. After placing your tongue between your front teeth and lips and rotate clockwise and then counterclockwise. Try to touch your chin with the tip of your tongue.
- Full-body stretches. Hold each pose for 10 seconds
Here is a fantastic video guide that you can use for this warm-up:
2. Lip Trills
- Breathe in through your nose.
- Press your lips together and make a motorboat sound upon exhalation by pushing air through.
- Raise your pitch as you exhale and then lower your pitch on your next exhale.
- Repeat this 6 times.
Here’s a great video to help you through your lip trills:
3. Tongue Trills
- Breathe in through your nose.
- Roll your Rs as you exhale.
- Raise your pitch and then lower it on the next just like in lip trills.
- Repeat this 6 times.
You can use this video to help guide you through your tongue trills:
- Make an ‘oooo’ sound.
- As you sing, start from your lowest note up to your highest and then back down. (Much like a police siren.)
For vocal sirens, this video is a good accompaniment as you go through this vocal exercise:
- Rest your tongue behind your bottom front teeth.
- Hum from your lowest note and gradually climb up the scale without opening your mouth.
- Make sure to include the ‘H’ before you sustain the ‘mmm’s.
For humming exercises, you can watch this video as a guide:
6. Straw Phonation
- Take a straw and put it between your lips.
- Do the same steps as the humming exercise.
- After going up and down the scale, hum your favorite song through it.
- You can also try blowing bubbles into a glass of water.
This video is a perfect guide for this vocal warm-up:
7. Vocal Slides
- Similar to the way the siren exercise is done, sing a shorter ‘ooo’ sound gradually from your lowest to your highest note.
- This time, do not sing the notes in between.
You can follow this video as a guide for this exercise:
- Get your vowels ready and add Ms to the beginning
- Say “ma-me-mi-mo-mu” in a prolonged, monotonous voice.
- Repeat this 6 times.
If you need a guide for this warm-up exercise, this video is perfect:
- Use the ‘ng’ from the word ‘ring’
- Make this sound from your lowest tone, gradually climbing to your higher.
- Repeat this 6 times.
This video demonstrates the perfect way to do this exercise as well as gives you accompaniment for yours:
- Using the word ‘nay’, make this sound much like a cackling witch.
- Make a gradual climb to your higher registers (mixed to head tone) and then a gradual climb down.
This exercise specifically helps you reach your higher registers while lessening the cracks in your voice.
If you need help with this vocal warm-up, then this video is perfect for you:
For this vocal exercise, we will get a little funny. Go ahead and channel your inner Goofy as you do this next exercise.
Make a gee sound and say it the way Goofy does as you climb up and down the scale and then back up again.
This will help your larynx drop and give you a richer tone.
For more help on this exercise, this video is the perfect example of how to do it:
- Starting from middle C, sing through the whole solfege. (Do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do)
- Focus on the sound and the pitch.
- Do this without piano accompaniment to train your listening skills along with your pitch.
For more solfege exercises, this website (2) has some fun ones that you can add to your routine and this video is perfect as an accompaniment:
- Using a vowel such as ‘ah’ or ‘oh’, sing the arpeggio scale.
- Gradually raise your pitch until you reach the middle note.
- From the middle note, gradually lower your pitch and repeat.
Here is a guide on how to sing the Arpeggio scale:
For anyone who has a hard time reading notes, this video is perfect for you if you want to do this vocal warm-up:
This next vocal warm-up is perfect for anyone looking to strengthen their chest voice. Make a ‘ha’ sound.
Using this sound, sing from the highest note of a pentascale and make your way down gradually by uttering the word ‘ha’ per note.
This exercise will not only strengthen your chest voice but also help improve your chest voice’s range.
Here is a video demonstrating this exercise:
15. Tongue Twisters
Tongue twisters are perfect for anyone who wants to improve their diction and pronunciation. This vocal exercise is not just helpful for singers but also for actors and even speakers.
Tongue twisters are fun ways to loosen the muscles of your tongue and allows you to enunciate your words clearly.
This website (3) has a huge compilation of tongue twisters!
While there are many other warm-ups and variations in this list (honestly, I encourage you to get creative), these ones are the best of the best vocal warm-ups out there. Every single vocal exercise listed here has something to contribute to improving your vocal quality and keeping your voice in top shape.
What else can I do to improve my singing?
Much like exercise cool-downs at the gym, vocal cool-downs also get overlooked most of the time. I mean, when you are drunk with the excitement to perform or to finally perfect a song you have been trying to sing for some time now, it is quite easy to forget something like cooling down.
However, it is important to remember that any muscle used extensively can get strained. Cool-downs are helpful for winding your muscles down to your normal speaking voice. Here is a useful video (4) that helps provide you with quick and easy vocal cool-downs.
This one is pretty obvious but also surprisingly easily overlooked. Your vocal muscles need constant practice in order to maintain their best form. Doing daily warm-ups and cool-downs like the ones I have listed down for you will give you some practice but it is also helpful to sing a song or two every day!
Not only does this lighten your mood, but little practice is better than no practice at all.
YouTube is a free resource for thousands upon thousands of singing tutorials including vocal warm-ups and exercises for beginners to experienced singers. Because of its extensive list of videos from many different content creators, you are sure to find several that can help you with your warm-ups and even give you singing tips.
However, it is important to know that because anyone can upload anything on YouTube, following some of the advice might not be helpful.
Find a Good Vocal Coach
If you plan on taking singing more seriously and wishing to do it on a professional level, then perhaps finding a good vocal coach is your best course of action. Self-studying shows your initiative to learn but vocal coaches are professionally trained individuals that know everything there is to know about singing.
Finding a good vocal coach that fits all your needs is not as easy as everyone thinks so it is crucial to take your time in researching which vocal coaches out there fits the goals you have for your voice.
Consider Taking an Online Singing Course
If you are keen to continue your self-study, then hats-off to you! Not everyone has the discipline and perseverance to keep going forward with their very own training. However, if you truly want to take a step up your usual routines, then it is in your best interest to find a good online singing course to help expand your knowledge.
There are dozens upon dozens of courses out there and choosing one might get overwhelming to some. Worry not, because I also have your back on this one. Check out my article about the 9 Best Online Singing Courses out there. It also includes helpful insights and tips on how you can choose the perfect course for you.
Anything we practice and strive to be greater at is a talent. As long as we continue to strive for it and take care of our gifts, then there is nothing left to do but to succeed. These are simple and easy vocal exercises that even beginners can do. The effects of using these even for only 30 minutes daily will last you a lifetime. Keep practicing and do not forget to cool-down. If you want to learn more, read online singing courses reviews by Sound Fro. Happy singing!
- 1. http://www.bbc.co.uk/sing/learning/breathing.shtml
- 2. https://www.musicnotes.com/now/tips/enhance-your-voice-with-these-vocal-warm-ups-and-breathing-exercises/
- 3. https://www.engvid.com/english-resource/50-tongue-twisters-improve-pronunciation/
- 4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nE1tj2XCzXw
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