Singers are like dancers and athletes – they need to warm up before they perform. You will never see a dancer launch themselves into a routine without properly warming up their bodies beforehand. This is because their muscles are not ready for what is being asked of them, they are not prepared or sufficiently stretched. It leads to serious injuries, which can lead to the dancer being out of action for many week/months.
The same applies to the vocalist. Before we start to sing, we need to prepare our body and our vocal cords in readiness for singing. A regular routine of warm-up exercises will make sure your voice is ready for further practice or prepare you for your performance.
Stand tall, with your shoulders back and let your arms dangle loosely by your side.
Keep your head up so that it opens your airway
Feel yourself being pulled upwards from your navel to the top of your head, so that you create more space for air in your lungs
Try standing with your knees unlocked and with one foot slightly in front of the other, about shoulder width apart
Relax but don’t slouch!
Next start some shoulder rolls. Gently roll your shoulders back in a circular motion, then try rolling them forwards in a circular motion. Release all that tension in your shoulders.
Now try rolling your head around in a circular motion, around the the right, then to the left. Also bring your head down so that your look at the floor, then tilt your head back so that you look upwards.
Take a controlled long and deep breath.Breathe in through your nose. Count to 8 as you continue to breathe in. Feel the air filling every part of your lungs, and remember to keep your shoulders down and relaxed.
Now breathe out through your mouth. Keep that breathe controlled, and again count to 8 as you’re breathing out. and repeat
Next try breathing through your mouth (as if you are sipping in through that big straw) but control it over the counts of four:
Inhale 2 3 4 Hold 2 3 4 Exhale 2 3 4
Inhale 2 3 4 Hold 2 3 4 Exhale 2 3 4
Inhale 2 3 4 Hold 2 3 4 Exhale 2 3 4 and relax.
Take a deep breath in, then exhale gently in a SSSSSS breathe (hissing like a snake). Work on keeping your exhalation a steady and constant stream for as long as you are able.
When you start to get the urge to breathe, try and continue exhaling just a little bit more before you have to breathe in.
Some people can manage just a few seconds, others can manage a minute or more.
Do what is right for you to begin with. Try timing yourself. Eg this week you managed 10 seconds, next week try for 11 seconds etc.
Warning: You will start to feel dizzy and lightheaded if you do too many breathing exercises in straight succession. If this happens to you, please stop the exercises and sit quietly until the feeling passes.
The reason we need to warm up our voice before we start singing, is because our vocal cords are delicate membranes, with muscles attached, which open and close these membranes to give us our voice. Our voice is capable of giving us high notes and low notes, and if we warm-up and stretch these muscles, then they will perform much better, without causing injury to our voice muscles.
A gentle, quiet hum is a great way of warming up your voice. Even if scales are not your thing, humming quietly to one of your slower, more melodic songs can help warm up your vocal cords.
Warm Up Exercises
Here we’ve put together a few exercises to warm up your vocal cords and get you ready for singing.
Humming Scale Gently hum along to the track with each key change The following exercises use vowel sounds. Use one vowel sound for the exercise and then change the vowel on the keychange and begin the exercise again on the new vowel sound. La (as in apple)- (La,la, la,la,la,la,la,la,la) - keychange - now change your vowel sound to Leh (as in elephant) (Leh, leh, leh and so on) keychange - now change your vowel sound to
Law (as in orange) (law, .......) keychange - now change your vowel sound to
Lee (as in cheese) (Lee,........) keychange - now change your vowel sound to
Loo (as in boom) (Loo,.........) keychange - now change your vowel back to La