7 Vocal Warm Up Exercises
Vocal warm up exercises are essential to loosen up the vocal cords and to prevent injury to the larynx. What follows are seven exercises that are tried and true and have been successfully used by many different singers over the years.
- The Siren
The Sirenis the first warm up exercise, and is an essential that should be performed several times before every practice session. This practice warm up also helps the singer to learn how to use the mix voice. The Siren is considered a very low strain (impact) warm up for the voice. This warm up focuses upon the sound “ung”, sung without an “s”. All the sound should travel from the nose and not the mouth. If you have trouble with this pinch your noise shut during the exercise. Start low and sing up from 3 to 5 sweeps using the “ung” sound.
- The Lip Bray or Lip Trill
The Lip Bray or Lip Trill is another very low force and strain warm up exercise. Using this particular warm up at the very beginning along with the Siren can help loosen vocal cords without straining.
- Tone Singing
Open your mouth wide and purse your lips then produce a bubbling sound while singing a vocal tone. This may take some practice as you must have the right balance between sound and air in this exercise. It can be fatiguing at first so increase the duration only after you build up stamina. If find this exercise difficult to execute try pinching both sides of the mouth at first to produce the sound. While warming up with the lip trill you are practicing control of your exhale and developing your vocal tone. Singing the lip trill or bray over a descending and ascending major arpeggio is an excellent warm up.
Humming is another tried and true warm up exercise. Your cheeks and lips should be relaxed as you hum and the air flowing out of your nose. The vibrations from the humming can be felt all through the front of the face and even fill up the sinus to produce a richer and more interesting tone. Avoid using an “H” at the beginning of the notes and produce an even unbroken tone the “H” can cause voice fatigue if used in this exercise. Hum a Solfege, such as Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do for this warm up.
- The Ma
The word is “Ma” for this warm up and it a low strain exercise but more intense than the ones before. Sing “ma” repeatedly over the first 5 steps of an octave. This is not a starting exercise but should be done after the voice has been warmed up more.
- The Bumbleebee
The next warm up is still more intense and is called the Bumblebee. Again this should only be done after the voice has been warmed up with the steps preceding it. Sing the following Solfege in a major scale:
Do Mi Re Fa Mi So Fa La So Ti La Do Ti Re Do Mi Do Re Ti Do La Ti So La Fa So Mi Fa Re Do Warm ups serve two purposes, one is to stretch the vocal cords prior to the real exercise and the second purpose is to train the voice in some techniques which help produce a richer set of tones. There are many types of warm-ups available this is just a small sampling of them.
Don’t start at the top or the bottom of your range instead start warming up at a comfortable middle range then move up a single semi-tone for the next. A semi-tone is a key on the piano or move up a fret on the guitar. Exercises and warm ups should be helping you build stamina but not exhausting your voice. Go up to the top of your range in a warm then go back down to the point you began or below. Don’t push your voice if it hurts, it is wrong. That is a simple rule but difficult to remember, singing should not hurt ever. During the warm up segment you can also improve your tone as well as your breathing. Here are some simple exercises which help provide warm up and can help in breath control.
- Strength Control
Strength and control is the key to proper diaphragm movement and efficient breathing. The SSSS exercise can help strengthen and improve control. Put your hands on your waist and then vocalize SSS SSS SSS SSSSSSS. The muscles in your waist should be pushing against your hands on your waist. When breathing correctly you will feel your solar plexus and your ribcage as well as your back.
This is strengthening muscles you need for singing though it may take a while to actually see the results. Practice this until you can easily feel the tightening and then try the exercise without using the SSS sounds. You should feel the tightening and loosening of the muscles during this phase. This is not an exercise that should strain the voice and all the effort is focused towards tightening and relaxing the diaphragm muscles.
- Breathing Control
Breath control is another exercise that should be done daily with warm ups. This can strengthen the diaphragm as well as develop tones and breathing habits for singing. The note you choose for this exercise should be in your middle range and neither too high nor too low. Sing out the sound Eeee. You start softly holding the note and building in sound until you reach the top of your power. Don’t vary your pitch during this exercise but instead maintain a constant note.
Once you reach your full vocal power gradually decrease the intensity of the sound until your voice fades to nothing. The challenge to this exercise lies in the fact you do it all in one breath. This exercise focuses upon strengthening your diaphragm and also enabling you to control your breathing and even hold more air. This has been proven to be very effective if practiced regularly.