Properly preparing your voice is a crucial step to having a successful performance; however, it’s not always about scales and arpeggios! As a singer, your entire body is your instrument – so you’ll want to make sure you’re fully warmed up, from head to toe, as well as mentally. Consider adding these outside-the-box vocal warm-ups to get the full effect:
1. Avoid Certain Foods and Drinks
Try to consume as little caffeine as possible before doing your vocal warm ups, and avoid ice cold drinks, as they are known to irritate the throat. The same goes for sodas and fizzy drinks; replace them with some warm water with honey and lemon or herbal teas, which will soothe your throat. Dairy products with a high fat content can negatively impact your voice, as they add mucous, so stay away from these on your days of singing practice. Finally, try not to eat anything for at least two hours before your warm up to make sure you have digested everything and you can take in deep breaths.
2. Warm Up Your Entire Body
As a vocalist, you always want to warm up your entire body beforehand. This gets the blood flowing and helps release tension. Take a few moments to do jumps and twists, and shake your arms and legs to loosen up. Stand up straight and balance your weight on the front of your feet, rather than the heels. Then, relax your shoulders and pay attention to your posture.
3. Relax Your Face
Stretch your face in order to relax it. Try to yawn as widely and openly as you can, to loosen up your facial muscles. Repeat a few times for your mouth and cheeks to expand, which will then allow your larynx to relax, minimizing possible voice straining. Once your face is loose, your larynx will be ready and available to you. With your facial muscles relaxed, singing automatically becomes a lot easier.
4. Breathe In, Breathe Out
Focus on your breathing. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily. Take your time; try to inhale for 15 seconds and exhale for another 15. Once you’ve mastered it, take it up to 30 seconds. The deeper the breaths are, the greater the flexibility that your lungs and voice will enjoy.
5. Twist Your Tongue
Tongue twisters are one of the most effective vocal warm ups, so it’s important to make them part of your pre-singing routine. Make your tongue pronounce every letter and syllable clearly a few times until you finish all the letters of the alphabet and their combinations. Exaggerate your lips and tongue every time you repeat a syllable – start slowly at first, and try to speed it up as you go. This exercise will instantly free your tongue and help calm your nerves.
6. Relax Your Neck
Make sure you also take care of your neck, which adds strength to your voice. Relax by smoothly rolling your head from left to right and right to left. Do gentle circular head rolls and stretch your neck muscles by letting your head fall as far back, right, front, and left as you can move it.
7. De-stress Your Jaw
Singers often neglect their jaw, but if there is any tension there, it will have a negative effect on your singing. To make sure that your voice displays all its natural color and warmth without getting easily tired, massage both your cheeks with your hands by rotating your palms as they gently push down on your cheeks. Repeat 10 times.
8. Try Humming
Humming is another great way to warm up before singing. Stand completely relaxed, make yourself comfortable and just start humming one of your favorite tunes. Let your entire face vibrate, from your eyes and nose to your mouth and neck, as it will help you control your breathing and build endurance. Keep it going for as long as you can.
9. Relax the Lips
Imagine for a moment that you’re swimming underwater and you’re exhaling through your lips. This produces a “brbrbrbrbr” bubble sound. Try to reproduce that feeling and sound as you let a deep breath out in order to relax your lips. This exercise allows you to produce a rich, effortless sound and it will take strain off your voice by placing some of the air pressure onto your lips.
With all of these vocal warm ups, make sure you put aside enough time to complete them. You will need at least 15 minutes and a quiet, relaxing place with no distractions. Focus on what you’re doing, and get rid of all unnecessary tension.
If you’re finding it difficult to relax and properly prepare for a performance, you may want to practice vocal warm ups with a private voice teacher. A professional’s help can really make a difference in your confidence, build strength and endurance, and help you release tension.
Photo by Ivan Bandura