A vocal warm-up is an essential foundation of singing. It prepares an artist’s vocal cords before a singing performance, similar to how warming up prepares athletes for working out to avoid straining their muscles. Though a performer might be confident enough to sing in an instant without any warm-up, it may cause tension in the vocal cords
A vocal warm-up before singing could vary depending on the components of the piece about to be performed. For more complicated pieces, the vocal warm-up must prepare the voice with the applicable arrangement for breathing, range, clarity, and articulation. Keep in mind that practicing allows you to unlock and grow your skill, and it is essential to do it regularly. Here are some vocal warm-up steps for beginners:
Vocal warm-up steps for beginners:
Breath control is the most basic and an essential voice exercise for singers. Breathing from the chest is commonly done while speaking or performing any activity, but when it comes to singing, learning to breathe from the diaphragm is a must, as it gives your voice more power, voice control, and an expressive tone. Breathing from the diaphragm also helps avoid straining your voice and releases tension that could affect your performance.
To effectively breathe from the diaphragm, you must relax your shoulders and chest while observing proper posture. The belly should expand outwards while you inhale and bring air deep into your diaphragm. A controlled breath should not make your shoulders or chest rise. You can start inhaling and exhaling for five seconds, then try doing it for longer durations to build more lung capacity and control.
Another simple yet greatly beneficial way of warming up your voice is with a hum. Humming helps stretch the vocal cords, improves breathing, relaxes your facial muscles as well as develops vocal resonance and tone quality. The proper way to hum is by placing the tip of your tongue behind your bottom front teeth and then producing a “hmmm” sound with your jaw open and lips closed.
It is important to keep your face and body relaxed while humming notes up and down your range while keeping your mouth closed. This technique must be repeated several times while increasing the intensity of the humming vibration each time. The hum generates vibration that relieves tension and relaxes your facial muscles, which may affect your voice.
Also known as lip buzz or lip bubble exercise, lip trills are done to warm up the diaphragm and the vocal cords. It helps in building up your stamina and breath support while singing. Lip trills are done by simply creating a motorboat sound with your lips as it vibrates and blows air through your mouth and nose.
You can start doing basic lip trills and then eventually add in higher and lower pitches which can go up and down or stay on one note for a longer duration. A funny tickling sensation could be felt in your lips, nose, cheeks, and other resonators. If you’re having trouble making a buzzing sound, you can place your index fingers on the center of your cheeks to pucker your lips better and produce that buzzing sound. If it still doesn’t work, you can try rolling your tongue and doing tongue trills instead.
Vocal sirens, also known as octave slides, stretch the vocal cords and warm up the voice range. It sounds exactly as the name suggests, a siren. You should start imitating a siren sound using the lowest note in your range as you slide through every note to the top of your range and then go back down. This technique helps you transition through the notes smoothly without cracking.
Sirens may appear as an indicator of vocal fatigue. Being unable to hit higher and lower notes without cracking must be done with little effort and without pushing yourself too hard. Your body must stay relaxed while continuously creating the “oooh” sound in covering tones between notes while controlling your breath. If you’re having difficulty shifting from your chest voice to your head voice, this is a good exercise to do regularly.
Tongue twister exercises improve pronunciation and vocal articulation. It is essential to pronounce words clearly during a singing performance as it trains your brain and mouth to enable smooth transitions between complicated syllables. You can practice repeating these short phrases, which you may initially find familiar and difficult to say quickly:
Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers
She sells seashells by the seashore
Really leery, rarely Larry
I saw a kitten eating chicken in the kitchen
Billy Bob blabbered boldly
These are just a few examples of tongue twisters you can try and there are numerous others you could try as well. You can start by saying the phrase without a tune, then eventually incorporate various pitches while practicing them. Sounds are articulated with your lips, tongue, teeth, jaw, and palate. Tongue twisters will reduce tension on these muscles while stretching them to improve the quality of your voice.
Another excellent warm-up exercise is humming a tune or exhaling through a straw. When your breath is concentrated on exhaling through a straw, you will be focusing on breath support while your face and body remain still and relaxed.
In performing this exercise, you must place a straw between your lips and try to exhale through it. Hum through the straw starting from the bottom of your range, then slide to your highest register smoothly and evenly. You can also hum your favorite tune into the straw. Inhale through the straw or outside of the straw if you feel lightheaded doing the exercise. Also, try placing the straw in a glass of water as you make bubbles in the glass. This exercise will help you improve your breath control.
The term solfege might sound complex, but it is basically a music system that assigns a unique syllable to every note of the musical scale. The seven major and minor notes are something you are quite familiar with, which are: Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti. It is easier to remember and sing solfege syllables rather than the traditional numbers or letters of each musical scale.
The solfege warm-up exercise helps you recognize the various notes and pitches by ear to stay in tune. It also helps in learning pitch, harmony, and straight-reading musical scores. In doing the solfege exercise, you must start with the middle C or Do and sing through the solfege up and down the scale. You will be familiarizing yourself with the changing pitch to keep yourself in tune while singing.
These are just some basic vocal warm-up steps to make you sing better and learn to control your voice. Each exercise can take as little as 10 minutes which you can try on your own. Once you get into the habit of practicing these exercises, you will discover the freedom and flexibility of a warmed-up voice.
Suppose you’re finding it difficult to practice these exercises independently, and you are up for the challenge of becoming a better singer. In that case, there is no better way to do that than getting private singing lessons from professionals like Live Music Community. Your vocal coach would be able to equip you with the proper techniques and guide you in developing your voice to unlock your full singing potential.