Singers: How to Warm Up Your Vocal Cords

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Ancient civilizations discovered powerful truths about vocalizing and singing that are relevant to modern students of voice and song.

We all go through our daily lives speaking, humming, and singing some of the time without realizing the effects of things we do half-consciously.  Or maybe we just suspect it!  Well here are some facts!!

By focusing on singing, speaking, or chanting the vowels (A,E,I,O,U) we release a myriad of emotions in an uplifting and healing manner.

Chanting or singing mantras are based on vowel-combinations that when chanted in a particular way produce a vibrating effect on our entire system, our nerves, glands, and the brain.  Here are some vowel sounds to use for warmup drills.  Singers, performers of all kinds, and instrumentalists may benefit from using these simple exercises.

A (pronounced “Ah”)  Induces a state of calm, peace, serenity.  Resonates at the toop of the thorax and esophagus (upper chest). The vibrations have a healing effect on the heart.  A(pronounced as in “glass”) resonates in the upper part of the lungs.

E(pronounced “eh”)
  Develops self-confidence. It resonates in the neck, throat, vocal chords, teeth, and thyroid glands.

I (pronounced “ee”) is the vowel of laughter.  It resonates in the bridge of the nose and crown of the head, affecting the brain and organs of the skull.

O (pronounced as in “home”) Turns inward and gives the sensation of seriousness, completion, and perfection.  It vibrates in the lower part of the lung, heart, and stomach.

OU (pronounced “oo”) has a similar sensation to O, but sweeter.
It vibrates in the lower abdomen, affecting the kidneys and stomach.

Simple warmup exercises that help you get emotionally clear and refreshed:

  • Balancing the Whole Body:  A   E  I (pronounced ahh-ee)  O  OU
  • For the ears: ENN
  • For the nose and sinuses:  MA
  • For the head and jaw:  YA  YOU   YAI
  • For the stomach:  HUH  HUH  HUH

Vowels are to be sounded with the full energy of a deep breath.  For example, when using I (pronounced ah-eee), inhale first, and then without exhaling, sound a strong and piercing EEEEE, parting your mouth as in a smile.  Keep at the same pitch. Keep sounding as you exhale but do not use up all your air. Rest and repeat the exercise 3 to 4 times. Soon you will notice a definite vibrating effect in your head which is pleasant.  This activity helps to clear the brain, eyes, nose, and ears.  This is a good morning exercise!!

Richard is a voice, guitar and piano instructor in Berkeley, CA.

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