Powerful Vocal Warm Up Exercises for Singers

(Last Updated On: May 18, 2021)
A singer is waking up his singing voice by warming up his vocal.

In performing your vocal warm up exercise as part of your routine singing essentials, you can follow the vocal tips given in this article.  Warm-up exercises provide enormous benefits to beginners that are why music instructors and pro singers vouch for their favorable effect in singing.  They reduce muscle tension and enhance your voice quality and strength.  One session would ideally take at least 20 minutes.

Why Vocal Warm up Before Singing is So Crucial?

Singing demands expending a lot of physical energy and hence a routine singing warm-up exercises are critical for singers when compared to musicians. For a singer, the energy is expended in two ways. The vocal activity takes up energy and stamina while singing and physical activity which uses up energy when a performer goes on stage to stand and sing, let alone the dancing and the interacting part. Just like sportsmen and athletes do a warm-up session before the workout session, singers need to do a warm up singing session before an actual practice/performance. This will help in stretching and flexing the vocal cords and prevents damage and strain while singing beside helping in the overall improvement in singing quality.

A study conducted by Gramming, Elliot, and Sundberg showed that altering the pitch stretches the muscles. Moreover, many singing stars have vouched for the fact that warming up exercises has contributed to better performance. All the muscles in the entire body are used while singing without our knowledge. For the vocal singing alone, the muscles of the diaphragm are the essential ones that contribute strength, power, and stamina for singing. The muscles of the vocal cords or the larynx provide tonal quality, vibrato, and tempo. Muscles in the shoulders, neck, chest, and abdomen are the secondary support to singing, and any stress or strain or tension at these muscles affects the quality of singing. The muscles of the limbs of your body give the physical support for standing or moving around and singing.

Therefore, the deep breathing, yoga, and meditation go a long way in releasing tension and calming you down. “Vocalises” are additional singing warm up exercises that train your voice through breath control, voice modulation, voice blending, voice balance, intonation, and diction.

The Golden Rules Of Vocal Warm-Ups

  • You can start doing this exercise after taking a lot of fluids to help in lubricating and moisturizing your vocal cords.  These warm-up exercises are essential in increasing the flow of blood to your voice-producing muscles.  But before you start, you should perform first some relaxation exercises to condition your physical and mental attributes in doing this exercise.
  • Then, you can follow it up with a form of breathing exercise, pitch exercise, and improvement of vocal strength exercise.  Later, you can set your routine of warming up that fits your requirements.  But in following these vocal warm up tips for beginners, you should discuss first the kind of exercise that you wish to do with your mentor to obtain his advice in charting out a plan for you.
  • You must be aware that there is no standard form of warm-up exercise that is ideal for singers.  Some may work better for others and some may not.  As a general concept, you should progress in a gradual manner with your warm exercise from mid ranges to the level of extremes.  You can refer to several books and singing programs online to get some vocal warm up tips that will provide you with a wide range of info concerning this subject.
  • You can also seek the advice of a vocal coach to set your list of personalized warm-up exercises.  In yawning and sighing exercise, you are required to inhale slowly in a yawning style with your jaw, shoulders, and tongue in a relaxed manner, and then, do your exhaling vocally.  Sing the hmmm sound in a comfortable pitch, changing the sound in the middle with an exhale.
  • If you want to become a professional singer but don’t know how to manage your voice properly, you may end up tiring your vocal cords easily. Thus, you need to learn the different vocal exercises recommended for singers to ensure that you properly manage your voice.

Powerful Vocal Warm-Up Exercises

Beginners in singing who would like to progress in their career should consider performing vocal warm up exercises that are crucial for their daily routine.  These kinds of exercises are also important for people who sing on rare occasions.  However, due to lack of time or for some other reasons, singers neglect to do these exercises that are very essential as the 1st step in singing.  Just like in any form of sports activity, warming up is necessary before you move up to high gear.

In singing, the vocal cords have to be warmed up first before you sing or speak especially on long engagement to prepare them for rigid work that they are about to perform.  If you neglect to warm up your voice, this could lead to a devastating effect on your performance like vocal hoarseness or early vocal fatigue.  So, what should be done to avoid these vocal problems?  Since every person might have a different singing voice, the type of vocal exercise that he should perform depends on his level of voice.

Below is the list of top 6 vocal warm-up exercises I love the most. They are extremely powerful, and applicable to all levels of singers whether you are a beginner or a pro singer.  Choose 2 to 3 exercises below and start waking up your real voice. Please do let me know what you think and found after practicing it.

1) Vocal Fry Exercise

The first exercise is called vocal fry technique that involves allowing the vocal cords to vibrate at the lowest level of frequency.  The groggy sound that you experience when you wake up in the morning can be used to loosen gradually by massaging your vocal cords.  As your 1st exercise, this will work effectively to make your vocal cords intact and protected.

But what is this vocal fry exercise? Well, vocal fry refers to your vocal cords’ initial vibration. However, vocal fry, in the technical sense of the words, refers to your singing range’s lowest part.

You can engage in vocal fry exercise by initially singing in a low note. Afterward, try to lower further the note that you are singing. Soon after, you will reach the lowest point wherein you can no longer sustain or sing a full tone. At this point, your voice will go into what we call a “vocal fry.”

The duration of time that you perform this kind of exercise depends on the kind of voice that you have, but under normal circumstances, you can perform it for a few minutes before you take the next warm up technique.

2) Lip Roll Exercises

The second vocal warm exercise is called the lip roll that is one of the best-recommended vocals warm-up exercises to induce flowing of the blood to the vocal cords.  This technique sets your voice by getting rid of excess tension brought about by night’s sleep while activating the inner larynx muscles.

If you can maintain the dopey sound below the lip rolls in ascending and descending in your vocal range, it can bring a more wonderful result.

If you are going to enroll in an online singing program, you would be taught the lip rolling exercise. This exercise, according to experts, helps you sing high notes, smoothen out tone quality, enable you to move through your vocal registers, and help you avoid vocal strain.

Well, lip roll is surely a vocal tool with many applications and purposes. It can relax your vocal cords. It can also help you build vocal skills and techniques, and it can also warm up your vocal cords. Singers generally use this exercise to warm up before singing and to cool down after singing. Singers also use it to enable them to tackle the challenging and challenging parts of a song.

Now, the question remains as to whether lip rolling is effective. To many, lip roll is simply a child’s play. But for some serious singers, lip roll does play its role in enhancing the singing voice. When you lip roll, you produce semi-occluded vocal sounds that help balance the pressure below and above your vocal cords.

When the pressures below and above, your vocal cords are equalized, your vocal mechanism functions at an optimum level. In other words, this exercise lets you efficiently create sounds by letting the ideal amount of air through your vocal cords. It also helps you attain smooth transitions between different registers. The idea behind this exercise is to let you achieve a relaxed and balanced vocal mechanism.

3) “Mum” Exercises

The third powerful exercise is called mum exercise that involves making the larynx neutral.  This technique keeps the pace of your workout in singing when your larynx is in a neutral position while performing a warm up of your voice.  Concentrate on maintaining your larynx neutral up to your desired music scale such as octave, double octave, arpeggio, etc.

After performing these vocal warm up exercises, it’s up to you now to determine if you need further stretching for your voice.  As mentioned earlier, each person has a different voice in singing, so, you have to undergo experimenting to know what vocal exercise is best for you.  The most important thing is you don’t neglect to do these vocal warm up exercises as your routine before engaging in a hectic singing session.

4) Sharp Exhalation Exercises

Other vocal warm-up tips include the use of a straw in inhaling and exhaling.  In the sharp exhalation process, you have to breathe deeply and gradually, but if you exhale, try contracting your abdominal muscles in a sharp manner to take out the air through sounding the word huh.  You can also make use of vowel sounds or combine them with consonant sounds in singing on the scale beginning from a low pitch and finishing at a high pitch.

5) Tongue Twister Exercise

Another means is by practicing some usual tongue twisters such as “she likes shells that sellers sell on the seashore.”  As a recap, the advantages that you get from doing these exercises include increasing your stamina, enhancing your vocal strength, better voice control, extending your vocal range, etc.

Tongue twister exercise allows you to exercise your tongue and vocal cords. This exercise will enable you to warm up your vocal cords and tongue. Thus, it will enhance your ability to enunciate the lyrics of the song properly. It also helps your jaw, lips, and throat to keep them in proper condition for singing. Plus, it improves your breathing for singing.

When you engage in tongue-twisting exercise, you should not work primarily on controlling your pitch. You should not also let yourself get locked into a very narrow pitch range. The correct way to do this exercise is to vary your pitch while warming up your voice. Then, you should focus on your tongue, jaw, or lips while you do the tongue-twisting exercise.

Once you follow these vocal warm-up tips, there is no reason your singing career would remain stagnant; it should blow up to a great extent. These vocal warm-up exercises may help you to get into a fully-prepared state for any upcoming singing performance. Please do remember to refer to these vocal practices before every singing performance.

6) Practice Deep Breathing

You can engage in a deep breathing exercise to warm up your vocal cords. This is done by standing up with straight back and relaxed shoulders. Then, put your hands on your belly or stomach. Through your nose, begin to breathe. Hold your breath as you count up to ten. Then, expand your lungs and abdomen as you inhale. Afterward, slowly exhale. 

When you exhale, you should let your abdomen contract as if you are forcing the air out of your abdomen. Make sure that you maintain your shoulder in a relaxed position and your back straight up. Then, repeat this exercise up to three times.

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