Structuring your vocal warm-ups and practice between lessons can make a huge impact on your success. Here, Bloomfield, NJ teacher Zachary B. shares some helpful tips…
In my experience, many students make progress during a lesson and often return to the next lesson with the new skills forgotten. Merely practicing songs, without specific structure usually leads to singing the song repeatedly. While this does familiarize you with the song, it does not help you improve from a technical standpoint, as it excludes warm-ups and technical work. So what’s the solution? I structure the practice routine for each of my students, so they know what do.
Effective practice consists of:
2. Vocal Technique
3. Song study
A breakdown of the first two elements are elements are the point of focus in this blog, as they are usually neglected.
The purpose of a warm-up is to prepare to the body and voice for the activity of singing. This is done through the release of unnecessary physical tension and awareness of healthy voice production. The warm up can be broken into two areas:
II. Vocal warm-ups
Physical warm-ups should consist of stretches, such as shoulder, neck and full body rolls and self massage of neck and facial muscles in particular. These are used to reduce unnecessary physical tension and produce a healthy body alignment for singing.
Vocal warm-ups should consist of lip trills, humming, and sighs. The purpose of vocal warm-ups is to get the voice ready for more dynamic activity and to reduce unnecessary laryngeal/pharyngeal tension. Lips trills focus on initiating tone and steady airflow. Humming also focuses on initiating tone with a focus on forward resonance, which is highly valued in contemporary singing. Sighing is a great way to elevate unwanted vocal tension.
Tips for More Efficient Vocal Warm-Ups
- Warm up in descending patterns using the 5th interval from the top of the tessitura (comfort range) to the bottom. (e.g. C to F, B – E etc.)
- Extremes in range should be avoided in the warm-up stage.
- Slide from the first note down to the fifth note to induce laryngeal relaxation. Do not target each note.
This part of practice consists of exercises aimed at voice building and correcting vocal faults. Exercises should reflect the needs of the students and be integrated with the repertoire being worked on in the lesson.
Although these areas of practice (vocal technique & song practice) are clearly defined, integration of exercises and repertoire is of great importance, and is more effective than working on each area individually.
Therefore exercises should be integrated with the repertoire, by being in similar ranges, keys and working on similar vowel shapes.
If you have 30 minutes each day to practice, aim to spend 10 to 15 minutes (or 25 minutes in an hour practice session) of that time on vocal warm-ups & exercises. Happy Practicing!
Zachary B. teaches bass guitar, guitar, piano, music performance, music theory, songwriting, speaking voice, and singing lessons in Bloomfield, NJ, with specialties including contemporary music , rock, jazz, and country. He joined the TakeLessons team in September 2013. Learn more about Zachary here!
Photo by Bengt Nyman