Singing is an integral part of our lives. We do it to express how we feel, or generally just to have some fun. Others even take it to the next level and become professional singers. Whichever category you belong to, whether you’re a professional singer, an amateur, or you simply love singing, it’s important that you conduct vocal warm up exercises before using your voice.
That being said, we’re here to help you achieve that. We’ve gathered some vocal exercises you can do, and why you should do them. Doing this will help you maximize your voice’s range and use the appropriate techniques in singing.
Importance of Voice Warm-Ups
Believe it or not, there is a right and wrong way to use your voice. Misusing your voice may cause damage to your vocal cords that sometimes results in loss of voice for a few days or weeks.
In fact, there are even cases wherein people caused permanent damage to their voices due to improper use. As a result, they were not able to sing the way they used to. Warming up your voice keeps it healthy. When your voice is healthy, extending your voice’s range would be relatively comfortable, and you’d be able to sing better.
With all that in mind, below are some of the exercises you could do to warm up your voice.
If you tend to suffer from a sore throat every time you sing, there are also a few methods that you can do to address that.
Vocal Warm Up Exercises
There are lots of vocal warm up exercises that you can do on your own, ranging from the most challenging and complicated all the way down to the simplest ones. In reality, there’s not really a single best warm-up exercise for your voice because it often depends on what’s your current expertise, what’s comfortable for you, and what works best. That being said, it is always best to discuss the ones that can be done by everyone.
Here are the easiest vocal warm-up exercises that can help you have better control of your voice.
Lip, Tongue, and Jaw Techniques
Every part of your mouth has its very own function whenever you sing. This is the reason why it is also essential to take note of these parts when singing. By warming them up, you get to maximize the potential of your voice.
1. Yawn-Sigh Technique
The first technique we’re going to discuss is the simplest one and involves inhaling and exhaling. The yawn-sigh technique is precisely what the name says. All you have to do is to inhale while your mouth is closed, and exhale the air through your nose like a sigh.
2. Lip Buzz
Lip buzz, which is often referred to as lip trill, is almost as easy as the yawn-sigh technique. In doing the lip buzz warm-up exercise, you have to take in air from both your mouth and nose. When releasing it, exhale through your mouth and nose, as well, but make a motorboat sound by vibrating your lips as the air goes through them.
This exercise will make your facial muscles looser and warm up your vocal folds.
3. Jaw Loosening
Try talking for a few seconds and pay attention to where your jaw drops. When singing, your jaw should drop at a much lower level than it does when you talk. To determine how far it should drop, close your mouth, and pretend to yawn. The level to which your jaw drops is where it should be when you sing.
4. Tongue Trill
Do you remember the lip buzz exercise, also known as lip trill? Well, that is almost like the tongue trill exercise. The main difference is that instead of vibrating your lips to make a motorboat sound, tongue trill requires you to vibrate your tongue while making “R” sounds. As you do so, go through different tones, ranging from low to high.
Now that we have learned about the different warm-up routines that involve the parts of your mouth, it’s time to proceed to the exercises that are more focused on your voice.
These vocal warm-ups are some of the most recommended exercises from vocal coaches and performed by professional singers.
When you practice your voice through singing, you would often find it challenging to do so because of the amount of strain that’s directed to your voice. This is precisely the part that humming warm-ups avoid.
To do this, simply close your mouth and position your tongue towards the center. The tip of your tongue must be slightly touching your bottom front teeth. Once everything’s in position, hum the major scale by making “hmm” sounds.
By making these sounds you can relax your facial muscles and stretch your vocal folds. You'll also improve your breathing.
2. Vocal Straw
The vocal straw warm-up is one of the few exercises that involve an object. To do this, you will need a straw. Hum through the straw by going through your vocal range from bottom to the top. After doing so, hum any song you’d like through the straw.
3. Pitch Glide
The pitch glide warm-up is done to get your voice used to the transition to a head voice coming from the chest voice. It involves making an “eee” or an “ohh” sound and gliding your pitch through two-octaves using chromatic notes.
4. Vocal Sirens
The vocal sirens warm-up exercises utilize the same principles as the pitch glide warm up. You need to gradually cover your vocal range from the lowest all the way up to the highest note while making an “ooh” sound. This will create a sound that resembles an emergency vehicle; hence the name “vocal sirens warm up.”
5. Vocal Slides
Next are vocal slides. Perhaps you’d be more familiar with this warm-up’s other name, which is portamento. The name portamento is an Italian word with the literal translation of “carrying.” It’s almost the same as the vocal sirens warm-up because you’d have to go from the lowest note to the highest note of your vocal range. The primary difference is that the vocal slides do not involve singing the notes between the ranges.
How to Cool Down Your Voice
One of the most common mistakes that singers, professionals, and amateurs alike, often do is to forget to cool down their voice. As much as you need to warm up your voice before singing, you must also cool it down afterward. That being said, here are some tips we have prepared for you on this matter.
Voice cooldowns are as easy as voice warm-ups. It’s relatively not that difficult to do them, but the important part is remembering to do so. It’s not a habit that’s learned overnight but, rather, a discipline that takes a lot of practice to embed into your routine.
To help you with voice cooldowns, here are some things you need to remember.
1. Think Like an Athlete
Your voice comes from muscles inside your throat. These muscles control the opening and closing of your vocal folds.
If athletes need to warm up and cool down their entire body before and after a training session or a competition, the same should be applied with your voice. This is because muscles when used for extended periods or for demanding tasks, get thick with blood. That being said, this blood must gradually flow away from the used muscle and to the other parts of your body.
Doing this to your vocal muscles will help you return to the normal voice that you use when speaking.
If you want to learn how you can strengthen your vocal cords, here’s a quick guide that may help you.
2. Cool Down Techniques
Luckily for us, cooling down our vocal muscles is not as difficult as it may seem. Actually, every single one of the exercises we’ve mentioned in the vocal warm-up section can be used as a cool-down technique, as well. However, keep in mind that if any of the vocal warm-up exercises have caused quite a strain on your vocal muscle, it’s probably best if you avoid using it to cool your voice down.
The easiest and arguably most common cool-down technique used by professional singers is the lip trill, which we’ve described earlier. The lip trill does not put too much demand on your voice, and you have to admit, it’s quite fun!
Whenever you use your voice for extended periods, it’s important that you take some rest. Usually, a five-minute cooldown will do the trick. However, it’s for good measure if you keep on doing cool-down techniques until you’ve noticed your voice going back to normal. This will prevent your vocal muscles from getting fatigued, making it more comfortable to speak and sing again.
In case you are interested in more vocal warm-up exercises and more exercises for improving your singing in general, you may consider enrolling in the Singorama 2.0 course. This course was developed by a vocal coach and successful singer from Australia, called Melanie Alexander. Through 28 comprehensive lessons, you'll evolve from beginner to pro in no time. Also, if you already have experience with singing, this course will provide you with loads of useful material to improve your voice further. You can also try out their free 5-part course first to see if you like their approach.
Our vocal cords behave in pretty much the same way as our other muscles. It can get strained, fatigued, or even damaged when not used properly or when used abruptly. For that reason, it is always advised that you conduct the necessary warm-up, as well as cool-down, exercises to keep your voice healthy.
Don’t forget that warming up your voice is not just about being able to sing better but also about being able to sing for extended periods without straining your vocal cords. In doing this, you can be sure that you'd be able to use your voice for singing without causing damage to it in the long run.