Whether you are a beginner or a professional, vocal exercises for singers is an absolute must. This becomes especially important for those who are learning to sing.
You may be wondering why you need to do vocal exercises, so let us give you an interesting example. Athletes need to stretch out their bodies and muscles before they head for their game to increase their body temperature, loosen joints, and increase blood flow. Similarly, singing is a physical process that needs precision movements from your whole body, so it is an absolute must for a vocalist to warm up their singing voice before they start to sing or practice for a performance.
Vocal exercises for singers are not difficult at all. All you need is to set aside a little amount of time during your day to maintain that healthy voice. Let's learn some vocal exercises that aspiring singers and singers can do.
Vocal Exercises for Singers
Vocal warm-up exercises are basically simple exercises that will help you with relaxing and warming up the muscles that control your vocal cords. Singing is a physical process which is an amalgamation of all the body parts. For this to occur effectively, your body must be in good shape so that it can also cooperate with your mind.
Any unnecessary strain to the vocal folds by singing incorrectly or just pushing it way above your vocal range will hamper the tonal quality, and this will ultimately lead to voice quality getting deteriorated.
Here are some easy and effective vocal exercises to help you in maintaining your beautiful voice and reaching the high and low notes effectively:
1. Breath Control
Breath control is considered to be the basic and important voice exercise for any singer. While you cannot hear your breath, it’s still the bedrock of the sound that you’re making. Breath control is essential since that is the difference between screeching or hitting that high note fabulously. This also helps you in holding onto a note for a longer time.
To do this exercise, follow these tips:
- Ensure that your shoulders do not rise as you are breathing because if it does, it indicates shallow breathing. This will result in an initial blast of volume, which is then followed with a little of everything else since you’re running out of breath quickly.
- Always breathe through the nose and out through the mouth. It should start much lower with the diaphragm muscles with the stomach constantly expanding. If you notice your stomach going in when you breathe, then you are doing this exercise wrong.
- Lie down on a flat surface, like the floor, relax, and just breathe regularly. You will notice that as you’re breathing, the rib cage and stomach will inflate, and as you exhale, they become small again.
- It also helps to visualize that these areas are being filled just like a balloon. Notice how much oxygen you’re capable of squeezing in, and believe us, it is much more than you think.
- Make sure that you’re starting very slow, but remember to inflate all the way into the ribs, then to the armpits, and then down to the belly at the very bottom.
Doing this breathing exercise is not just good for your voice but also helpful for your overall health and well-being. This, in turn, means that your voice will be more resilient and stronger.
While doing this exercise, you can also practice doing short laughs between each breath. For example, “Ha!” followed by breathing, and then repeat. This helps to ensure that the stomach is going in. You can also try practicing this in slow motion as it helps develop better control over your breathing. You can think of yourself squeezing your toothpaste right from the end and upwards for that steady flow as an example.
If you are interested in more exercises specific about breathing, then you might want to check out this article.
2. Lip Bubble
Yes, we know how funny this sounds, and you may even feel silly doing it, but trust us when we say that this does work. It is an excellent exercise for your voice that you can do at home.
To do this, you should sound as if you are mimicking a car engine sound. With your finger, you can support your face around the jawline, then squish your lips together into a very loose pucker and blow a “buh” type sound gently into the lips so that they vibrate.
After you have mastered this, make use of scales, slide up and down, and even as high and low, you can possibly go. You can also make use of this trick on a melody of a song when you are learning it. You know that this exercise is working well for you after you feel a tingling sensation in your lips.
We all know how to hum, just make an “mmm” type of sound when you speak as if you agree with someone or as if you just had a great meal. When you do this, there should be a gentle vibration on your lips and in your throat.
After mastering this, you should do this very comfortably and even hum through the different scales. Make sure that you are breaking up the notes, and by that we mean, do one short “mm mm mm” and another long “mmmmmmmm” smoothly as possible across all the notes.
It is also important to avoid starting this hum with an “h” because doing so means that you are overusing your breath. Also, ensure your tongue stays down and does not start to pull to the back of the throat.
This is a great exercise to do all day long when you’re out too. Simply practice humming when you are driving, walking, or on the train. Humming will not just warm up your voice, but it also gives off a jolly vibe of you to others.
After doing this exercise your vocal folds will be warmed up nicely and your facial muscles will have loosened up.
“ing” is another great sound you can make for exercising your voice. For instance, when you say the word “sing”, sustain the –ing part of it. Doing this would feel a bit nasal at the start, but that is okay. This exercise helps work your hard palate, which is the upper part of the interior of your mouth.
Make sure that you are sliding through scales. Go from low to high and high to low and around the song’s melody that you are working on. Just like with the previous exercise, you must also not overuse your breath and keep the tongue as flat and relaxed as you can.
This is a great exercise for when you are in the shower or when you are getting ready for work. Like many of our vocal exercises, you can incorporate this into your daily routine when you do not have the time for dedicated singing practice.
5. Perfecting the Vowels
Vowels can have a huge impact on anything. When you sing, you sustain these sounds and help showcase the uniqueness of the tone of your voice. Hence, you must control them effectively so that they sound great, and you can sing to your fullest ability.
You will notice that several singers modify the shape and sound of a vowel quite dramatically so that they can make it easier for themselves to reach particular notes. In some cases, they do such to replicate another singer’s singing style.
EE is considered to be a notoriously difficult vowel to sing in the high range, which is why you’ll find many singers converting this to sound more like AH.
Ensure that you practice most of the common vowels that you find the words when you sing. Also, always work to maintain a consistent shape of your mouth so that you can produce them naturally instead of manipulating your tongue, jaw, and mouth to create them.
We believe that an ideal starting point is a nice and narrow "O" shape and after that, you can work individually across the following: EE from See, EH from Stare, OO from Soon, I from Sky, OH from Snow, and AH from Star.
Try using one sustained note and four- or five-note scales up and down. Make sure you are not adding any "Hss" to level the sound out and keep the jaw and tongue relaxed.
6. Working on Your Diction
Your audience must understand every word you sing, which is why you need to make sure that you’re not getting lazy with the pronunciation of the words. Adding consonants, along with your vowel exercises, will crisp up your diction and will also help with your breath control. Additionally, it helps in creating stops in your airflow at different points in your throat and mouth.
You can choose from a variety of different variations, but we found that B, C, D, F, G, M, and N are some of the most effective. Furthermore, we found that the simplest trick is to do the vocal exercises but also add one of the consonants at the start.
Ensure that you are working through them only one at a time and pay close attention to the ones you find difficult. We recommend working on the one that you find the most difficult to work with instead of shying away from it. That will make the rest easier.
7. “Speak” Singing
Voices are always at their most relaxed state when we speak in our natural voice. Thus, it is ideal for bringing this together with our singing voice. Start working on the trickier parts of a song in a short and more spoken manner while you maintain its melody. It will indeed feel and sound without any soul, but eventually, you will start to sustain the notes and be able to add more of your style of singing back into it.
We can assure you that you will be pleasantly surprised at how easier this feels.
Speak-singing can also be a useful technique that you can choose to incorporate into your performance. This can be your artistic choice and may make it more than just a vocal exercise.
How Much Time in a Day Should You Allocate for Vocal Exercises?
If you are new to learning how to sing, then be careful with these vocal exercises and take it very slowly. Going all out with these exercises by spending hours every day suddenly may result in you damaging your vocal cords. This is because your muscles are not yet robust to handle all those vocal exercises.
We recommend doing some or all of these vocal exercises about 15 to 20 minutes every day for a couple of months till you feel your voice getting stronger. If you are a singer with years of singing experience, then this does not apply to you.
An experienced singer is capable of exercising their voice for 40 to 45 minutes every day, and after that, move into singing the songs they wish to, for you to check how all that vocal exercises have impacted their sound quality.
Should You Cool Down Your Voice After You Sing?
After you do your vocal exercises and singing, you should cool down your voice, as well. You can make use of these same vocal exercises to do so. This is essential because it will help in keeping your voice strong and will also allow you to perform at your best every time.
Where to go from here?
Apart from studying the other articles on this website, we recommend that you follow a course like Singorama 2.0. This course consists of 28-lessons made by a successful singer and vocal coach. If you are a beginning singer, this course will help you get started using safe and correct techniques. In case you are a more experienced singer, the course will help you take your singing to the next level. You can try out their free 5-part course first if you are not yet sure whether this course is for you.
By making use of these vocal exercises for singers, any vocalist, whether a beginner or professional, will be able to build a well-balanced practice routine. If you are a beginner, make sure you take the time to ingrain all these exercises into your voice.
You can do so by extending lower and higher into the vocal range. Practice every exercise for a couple of minutes every day and monitor how they are benefitting your voice. We recommend recording yourself daily to see how much your voice has improved with these exercises.
Keep in mind that vocal exercises for singers are a crucial part of your practice and performance routine. These easy ones we mentioned will help you in refining your technique, building your vocal power and controlling it, and also help in expanding your overall vocal range.